HOW YOUR SCHOOL RANKS
1250 schools’ NAPLAN performance ratings Revealed: The schools that really improve your kids
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