NSW Comes into the Twenty-First Century

NSW is finally joining the rest of the developed world (apart from a few other Australian states!) in publishing school test scores, valuable information for any parent choosing a school. Those on the left who are resisting this move should remember that poor families benefit most from releasing this kind of information, since affluent families tend to have better social networks, and can afford to buy glossy books that compare schools.

Of course, while parents may want to know about the level of test scores (to the extent that choosing a school is really an exercise in choosing your child’s peers), what parents probably most to know is how much a school will teach their child – the value-added, if you like. One way of getting to this is to adjust the scores for socio-economic status, which it sounds like the NSW government is planning to do, and is what the Victorian government did under Kennett. But a better way would be to report the test score gain – ie. for a primary school, report the difference between the year 3 and 5 test scores for kids who stayed in that school. That would really tell you something useful.

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