1250 schools’ NAPLAN per­for­mance rat­ings Re­vealed: The schools that re­ally im­prove your kids

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - FRONT PAGE - LAU­REN MARTYN-JONES

PUB­LIC schools and low-fee re­li­gious schools in “bat­tler belts” and the re­gions are up­stag­ing well-heeled Bris­bane schools by driv­ing some of the big­gest ed­u­ca­tion trans­for­ma­tions in Queens­land.

An anal­y­sis of Queens­land Cur­ricu­lum and As­sess­ment Au­thor­ity data by The Sun­day Mail has pro­duced the state’s most com­pre­hen­sive guide to the 2018 NAPLAN re­sults.

It re­veals how well more than 1250 Queens­land schools have per­formed on their NAPLAN test scores and ex­am­ines the ex­tent to which schools have been able to demon­strate an im­prove­ment in the lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy skills of their stu­dents be­tween the 2016 and 2018 test­ing pe­ri­ods.

Few of the schools that made the most sig­nif­i­cant gains in lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy lev­els over the past two years are wealthy Bris­bane pri­vate schools.

In­stead, the state’s big­gest im­provers are state schools in lower so­cio-eco­nomic pock­ets, re­gional low-fee re­li­gious schools and schools that are throw­ing out “old school” teach­ing prac­tices in favour of cre­at­ing in­no­va­tive 21st cen­tury learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments.

The re­sults are set to rein­vig­o­rate the de­bate around the Gon­ski 2.0 ed­u­ca­tion re­port, which calls for ev­ery school to en­sure ev­ery child achieves a year’s worth of growth in a year’s school­ing. Among schools mak­ing ex­cep­tional gains is Doomadgee State School, a largely in­dige­nous school on the Gulf of Car­pen­taria, where most stu­dents are from homes in the low­est so­cio-eco­nomic quar­tile. It has man­aged to im­prove the lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy test re­sults of its Year 5 stu­dents by an av­er­age of 61 NAPLAN points per sub­ject against the state mean, com­pared to how they per­formed as Year 3 stu­dents in 2016. Prin­ci­pal Paula McGuire puts this trans­for­ma­tion down to an em­pha­sis on cul­ture, at­ten­dance and ex­plicit in­struc­tion teach­ing strate­gies.

“In our ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing in 2016 we started an at­ten­dance board where we put up the pho­tos week by week of kids who had an at­ten­dance rate of 100 per cent,” she said. “The first week we started that board, we cel­e­brated hav­ing 16 chil­dren – now there are times where we have 140 pho­to­graphs on the board.”

Among high schools demon­strat­ing the great­est gains is Gold Coast Chris­tian Col­lege, which uses the Cana­dian de­vel­op­men­tal read­ing as­sess­ment pro­gram and con­tin­ues spell­ing les­sons into high school years.

Coor­pa­roo Sec­ondary Col­lege has boosted lan­guage skills by in­tro­duc­ing a whole school read­ing pro­gram, in­di­vid­u­alised learn­ing plans and de­ploy­ing ex­plicit in­struc­tion.

One of the few wealthy Bris­bane in­de­pen­dent schools buck­ing the trend is St Mar­garet’s Angli­can Girls School, which is among the top 20 Queens­land schools for both per­for­mance and im­prove­ment.

Prin­ci­pal Ros Cur­tis said the school de­cided a few years ago to in­crease les­son time ded­i­cated to English and Maths in Years 7-9 and roll out a “lit­er­acy boost” pro­gram.

The Sun­day Mail’s guide to schools fol­lows the re­lease of a re­port by busi­ness­man and ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tant David Gon­ski in April, which warned too many Aus­tralian schools were “cruis­ing, not im­prov­ing” and rec­om­mended an over­haul of teach­ing prac­tices to lift stan­dards across the board.

Fed­eral Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Dan Te­han told The Sun­day Mail that the Mor­ri­son Gov­ern­ment re­mained com­mit­ted to work­ing with the states to im­ple­ment the 23 rec­om­men­da­tions of the Gon­ski re­port.

“I want ev­ery Aus­tralian child to re­alise their po­ten­tial and get the best ed­u­ca­tion pos­si­ble,” he said.

THUMBS UP: Year 5s at Good Shep­herd Catholic Pri­mary School in Spring­field Lakes, which is a top im­prover. Pic­ture: Jamie Han­son

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