"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Difference in School Test Scores Based on Social Background, Duh

Dr. Barry McGraw is formerly Deputy Director of Education for OECD. From The Australian:
NATIONAL Curriculum Board head Barry McGaw yesterday called on Canberra to release suppressed international test data comparing the performance of Australian public and private schools.

Australia is one of only three countries that suppress the results of OECD tests believed to show that a student's social background rather than their school is a better indicator of academic performance.

Professor McGaw believes the results are likely to bear out the crucial role of social background, such as parental education and occupation.

Of the 30 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, Australia, Belgium and France are the only members that don't reveal the breakdown of public and private school results in the OECD's regular testing of 15-year-olds.

"Australia shouldn't be suppressing that piece of information," Professor McGaw, a former head of education at the Paris-based OECD, told The Australian.

"The Government obviously know which are the government schools and which are the private schools in the data set, but that information is removed from the file sent to Paris."

He said analysis of OECD test results internationally showed private schools tended to outperform state schools. However, he said that in all countries that outperformance directly reflected social background.

"How much of the difference between the schools is due to that and not due to what the school does but just due to whom they enrol? The answer is, in all countries, all of it," Professor McGaw said.

The ban on the release of the information has been in place since the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment test started in 2000. The PISA test compares achievement in reading, mathematics and science across 57 countries.

About 14,000 Australian students from randomly selected schools are set to take this year's test between July and September.

Based on the raw PISA data from Australian schools, Professor McGaw said it was already clear that 70 per cent of school performance is dependent on the background of the students. . . .

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