School League Tables Focus on Elite – New School Achievement Gauge Needed

February 9, 2015

School League Tables Focus on ElitePopular "league tables" of WA school performance focused far too heavily on elite schools catering for a largely privileged student body while totally ignoring the achievements of other schools whose growing educational attainments were much more impressive, according to Murdoch University.

A new "Murdoch league" table to measure WA school performance and achievement would overcome such wrong messaging and erroneous inferences commonly drawn from top listings, the University's Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Taggart said today.

Professor Taggart said that an alternative and better informed assessment of school achievement was overdue to capture results which demonstrated significant school improvement.

"Unfortunately, the composition of current tables is highly predictable and relatively unchanging as almost all such ‘academic’ schools cater to select, privileged groups based on middle/upper middle class families where parents are university graduates," Professor Taggart said.

"Additionally, these tables potentially ‘punish’ schools which are challenging past performance and trying to increase the number of ATAR students which are the very institutions which the new Murdoch League table seeks to identify. WA needs many more students gaining an ATAR in the emerging knowledge economy.

"Such a league table offers a valuable, alternative and better informed view of school achievement in recognising and rewarding schools, principals and teachers who nurture students to achieve results which exceed those previously gained, defy community expectations, demonstrate attainment above like schools and significantly improve student access to an ATAR pathway or university entry.

"The current unhealthy focus with top league tables on the median ATAR and number of stage three courses with students achieving scores above 75, is an artificial gauge of a school's 'real' attainment in which more important success data is lost.

“Murdoch congratulates all high achieving WACE and ATAR schools and their students, however, we also want other schools and students recognised for doing well.

"We believe that it is time for another view of school and ATAR achievement as is presented in Murdoch's League Table which offers a new view of school success. There are standout schools like Belmont City College, Ballajura Community College and Safety Bay Senior High School, who are building student aspirations."

Professor Taggart said that the new Murdoch University League Table listed the Top 10 schools on the basis of their attainment over the past three years through increasing the number of their students who gained an ATAR.

The Murdoch table relied on very simple data:

  • Per cent of students achieving an ATAR;
  • Growth of percentage of ATAR students over the past 3-years; and
  • The ICSEA – a measure of a school’s educational disadvantage.

Unlike other league tables, Murdoch did not want schools to remain in its League Table but encouraged them to move out through the continued improvement of their graduating students' academic attainment.

% ATAR Students 3-Year Trend Median ATAR ICSEA
Schools 2012 2013 2014 2012-14 2014 2013
Margaret River Senior High School 40.6 47.1 58.5 17.9 81.65 1035
Prendiville Catholic College 68.8 78.0 84.1 15.2 70.40 1070
Safety Bay Senior High School 15.1 22.1 29.5 14.4 66.55 986
Emmanuel Catholic College 40.4 35.0 53.6 13.3 75.05 1024
Carey Baptist College 61.6 62.9 74.0 12.4 81.75 1082
Ballajura Community College 32.5 41.7 43.9 11.4 70.15 973
Nagle Catholic College 59.6 64.1 69.7 10.1 76.45 1016
Eastern Hills Senior High School 44.1 50.8 53.2 9.1 61.05 995
Cape Naturaliste College 33.0 32.9 40.9 7.9 77.9 995
Belmont City College 24.0 20.0 31.3 7.3 76.3 920


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