League tables return

So, what’s wrong with league tables, except that Essendon has flattened out to 12th with two games to go? Nothing, if you want a simple and clear list from top to bottom with a whole lot of data attached.  Plenty, if the idea is to simplify and simply rank what is much more complex than any simple list can provide.

Which is what the Federal Minister was proposing this week, arguing that we were ‘kidding ourselves’ if we thought we lived in a world without league tables. We’re not kidding ourselves. We know that we live in that kind of world, who wants that kind of simplicity, even that kind of competitiveness, winner takes all.

But there’s no reason why we should replicate that kind of world in our classrooms, or in the way we describe learning in schools.  We ought to get leadership, not slogans, and politicians who are into education for the couple of years they’re in power, ought to make an attempt to understand a little of the complexities they’re dealing with.  The AGE reports:

FEDERAL Education Minister Julia Gillard has defended her plan to publish detailed information on the performance of individual schools, claiming “we are kidding ourselves if we say we are living in a world without league tables”.

In an interview with The Sunday Age, Ms Gillard dismissed warnings that her plan to make public statistics on the academic and socio-economic profile of individual schools would create “ghetto” schools with entrenched disadvantage.

She has weathered a week of flak since detailing her proposal at last Monday’s Australian Council for Educational Research conference in Brisbane, where she explained the aim of gathering and publishing such data was to help governments better allocate resources and to give parents more information about schooling options for their children.

“It’s naive to think that people don’t compare schools,” Ms Gillard said. “Most parents would be able to survey across their suburb and put a view in about whether the school is a good school or a bad school. Often they are doing that off incomplete information because it is not available.”

There are two other AGE pieces on the same topic today, Fears rankings will lead to name and shame game and Putting schools to the test

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