SAM Bloomer, of Year 4 at St Mary’s, leaves school after his first day back.
SAM Bloomer, of Year 4 at St Mary’s, leaves school after his first day back.

How Valley's schools rate

SOME Clarence Valley school principals feared a ‘narrowing’ of schools’ curriculums as educators were pressured into achieving higher NAPLAN results and increase their rankings on the controversial My School website, which was launched yesterday.

The site, which went live at 1am, received 290,000 hits in its first hour of operation, and a total of 4.5 million hits by 2pm. It experienced several crashes due to volume and administrators increased its capacity throughout the day.

Several school principals contacted by The Daily Examiner refused to put their names to their comments yesterday but some expressed concern the figures could be misconstrued and misused by the public.

McAuley Catholic College principal Leon Walsh said there was a real danger that subjects not tested by NAPLAN, such as art, history and music, would suffer while schools put potentially unbalanced focus on numeracy and literacy to satisfy the testing process.

Mr Walsh, whose school achieved near to or above average results in almost all tested areas of numeracy and literacy, said he was generally pleased with McAuley’s outcome.

“We’ve already used these figures to inform the emphasis of our year ahead,” Mr Walsh said.

“We will continue to strive for broad educational principles.”

Mr Walsh said he was looking forward to seeing the Year 9 results of the 2010 NAPLAN results which, for the first time in this form, would show the progress of the same batch of ‘cohorts’ first tested in Year 7 in 2008.

“The critical thing will be their growth in that time,” he said.

One primary school principal, who asked not to be named, said the figures were based on one test on one day in the life of each student and did not reflect the whole picture.

Another principal said the NAPLAN tests were open to manipulation by unscrupulous teachers who may ‘give’ the answers to students to prop up the school’s results or offer poorer performing students the day off on test day.

Liza Bloomer, of Grafton, whose nine-year-old son Sam attends St Mary’s Primary School, Grafton, supported the MySchool website, saying it may help government and the community identify areas where resources needed to be improved.

Asked whether poorer performing schools would be stigmatised by the publication of their results, Ms Bloomer said most people had a feel about how various schools were performing.

“These figures might bring it to the attention of those other than locals so something can be done about it,” Ms Bloomer.

She welcomed any ‘move back’ to numeracy and literacy, saying these basic skills had been lost in recent years.

Principal of Gulmarrad Public School Gary Faulks said parents needed to use more than the My School site to decide which school to send their children.

“It’s just one piece of information ... things such as annual reports, student’s reports, websites and parent teacher meetings need to be used when assessing a school,” said Mr Faulks, whose school’s NAPLAN results were generally above average.

NAPLAN results from almost all of the Clarence Valley’s 34 schools have been compiled in a graph (opposite) in today’s Daily Examiner.

Staff at St Joseph’s Primary School, South Grafton were investigating why figures from that school were not available on the My School website.

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