05 September 2009

Federal News: Governments agree to collaborative reform of Australian schools

Australian, State and Territory Education Ministers have made further progress in working together to deliver collaborative national reform of schooling in Australia.

Recently, they confirmed the successful development of the Building the Education Revolution program and arrangements for its timely delivery. They also agreed on the further development of important reforms in Teacher Quality, Literacy and Numeracy and Disadvantaged Schools, based on initial implementation plans for COAG National Partnerships in these areas.
In a major step forward for the shared national transparency agenda, Ministers also agreed on a framework for publication of comparable information about school performance and context: a vital collaborative reform.

For the first time parents, teachers and communities will have access to nationally consistent information that details a school's results, its workforce, its financial resources and the student population it serves.

From 2009 the new Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) will be responsible for publishing relevant, nationally comparable information on all schools. This will include publication of the 2008 NAPLAN data and associated contextual information.
The information available will enable comparison of each school with other schools serving similar student populations around the nation and with the best-performing school in each cohort of 'like schools'.

It will also support accountability, school evaluation, collaborative policy development and resource allocation.

Through better monitoring of performance at the student, school and system level, educational outcomes can be lifted across all schools.

All governments will continue to work together to develop a set of meaningful measures to guide school evaluation, accountability and resource allocation.

Improvements in the quality and quantity of information available on school education will allow governments, through the National Partnerships, to target resources to schools.

Ministers agreed to release the 'Reporting and Comparing School Performances' report prepared by the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), on which the Ministers drew in developing the school transparency agenda.

Ministers believed, however, that these reforms were not about simplistic league tables which rank schools according to raw test scores.

In other developments, Ministers agreed to include arts in the second phase of the development of the National Curriculum.

In the first phase, the interim National Curriculum Board was asked to develop curriculum for the core subjects of English, mathematics, science and history. Geography and languages have already been confirmed as forming part of the second phase of curriculum development.

(Originally published April 2009)

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