Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"Indigenous children start as equals"

Insofar as there is any truth in this, I am afraid that it is likely to be just another example of the Chimpanzee effect. I doubt however that the sampling of black kids was in any way representative. What percentage of black 5 year olds are in school anyway? About half of blacks live in remote settlements and their schooling is very nominal

Indigenous [black] children start school with a similar level of developmental skills as non-indigenous children, with gaps in achievement appearing to widen as they progress through school. In tests measuring readiness for school and language comprehension, indigenous students aged five have the skills of non-indigenous students aged four. [So that's equal?? That's a large gap at that age. Five year olds are a heap more capable than four year olds]

The analysis by Australian National University researchers Andrew Leigh and Xiaodong Gong estimates that between one-third and two-thirds of the gap in test scores is related to socio-economic differences. But Dr Leigh, from the Research School of Social Sciences, said the study showed that the big gaps in educational achievement occurred during the school years, not that indigenous students started school far behind the rest of the community. "Paradoxically, it's really quite an optimistic finding," he said. "It would be deeply depressing if we discovered that four and five-year-olds were as far behind as 14 and 15-year-olds, which would basically tell us that the problem was in families," he said. "Governments are bad at fixing families but these results suggest we need to focus on schools, and that's something policymakers have been thinking for years now."

The study looks at the performance of about 5000 children aged four and five and their results in two cognitive tests measured in the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Children. One test asked students to pick one of four pictures that best suited the word said by the examiner. The other asked students to perform 10 writing exercises, from copying shapes to completing a sentence to drawing a picture of themselves. Indigenous students at the age of five were about one year behind their non-indigenous peers. Dr Leigh said other studies, and the national literacy and numeracy tests, have shown this gap widens substantially by late primary and early high school.


Small schools outshine bigger rivals in final-year examinations

But the government is still being secretive about detailed results. The taxpayers must be kept in the dark. They only pay for it all! But the politicians are so much wiser than us, of course

STUDENTS at schools in smaller regional centres around Queensland and those at private schools in the southeast's outer suburbs have outshone their colleagues across the state in academic achievement. The list of achievements by senior students at Queensland schools last year, to be released by the Queensland Studies Authority today, shows that the big city is not necessarily better when it comes to academia. It also shows that despite the hefty tuition fees demanded by some of the established inner-city private schools, some of the better state high schools are outperforming them academically. [i.e. The State schools in upmarket suburbs do well -- where the results reflect pupil quality rather than teaching quality]

Topping the state is All Saints Anglican School at Merrimac [South of Brisbane], where 94 per cent of eligible students gained an Overall Position (OP) score of 15 or better. The school eased Brisbane Grammar out of the top spot it occupied the previous year. OPs give a statewide rank order to students of between 1 and 25, with 1 the highest. Universities use OP scores to select applicants to degree courses. Brisbane Grammar scored 93 per cent, while another Gold Coast school, Emmanuel College at Carrara, came next with 91 per cent.

All Saints principal Patrick Wallas said the students' achievements were "wonderful news". He said the school also had a strong vocational education and training record, but students understood and encouraged academic excellence. "It's cool to do well at All Saints," Mr Wallas said. "You don't get humiliated or teased, and you can do it in a fun and liberating way."

Students at Christian and independent schools in outer metropolitan areas performed particularly well in 2007, confirming a trend from the previous year. Year 12 students at The Gap High School [An upmarket suburb] scored 84 per cent, the highest for a metropolitan high school and much better than some of the pricier private schools in Brisbane.

Elsewhere in Queensland, students at schools in smaller regional centres such as Atherton (81 per cent), Ayr (84 per cent) and Home Hill (88 per cent) did well. Seven schools had 90 per cent or more of their eligible Year 12 students gaining an OP15 or better. Only three were in Brisbane - Brisbane Grammar, Mt St Michael's at Ashgrove and St Margaret's Anglican at Ascot.

Education Minister Rod Welford said parents should use the information, published in The Courier-Mail today, as a guide. "There are many factors that make a school suitable for a student,' he said. However, despite insisting the Government was serious about school accountability, Mr Welford again refused to release more detailed information on the academic record of individual schools. The Government keeps information such as how many OP1s a school achieved secret, arguing that OPs are only one measure of a school's suitability. Mr Welford said he chose to release the proportion of students achieving OP15 or better because such a score would usually get them into university.


This is a government that wants to get people out of their cars

Commuters have voiced frustration over the new Queensland Rail timetable with some passengers being left behind by overflowing trains. One of QRs busiest services the Ferny Grove line to the city was packed to capacity by the Enoggera station yesterday morning, leaving an estimated 60 people behind on the platform. Those commuters faced a further 22min wait for the next train; the former schedule had a nine minute gap between trains.

City worker Stephen Knight, 31, said the revamped schedule had created scores of disgruntled passengers. "There were definitely a lot of unhappy people, pretty much everyone on the train was talking about it. They were not happy, he said. "At Enoggera maybe a quarter of the people on the platform managed to get on to the train and after that pretty much no-one got on after that. Maybe one or two at each stop managed to squeeze themselves on. "There were a lot of unhappy people and a lot of people said they were going to take the bus or the car the next day.

The complaints represent a nightmare start for QR, which called the timetable overhaul the most significant for more than a decade. The general manager of passenger services, Andy Taylor, said the performance of the first week would be reviewed but pointed out the number of peak morning trains on that line had increased to 14 and in the afternoon to 16. He said he was confident the services would work more smoothly once commuters worked out the new times. And he said while there was a 22min lag between trains, the services had been upgraded from three car sets to six.


Andrew Bolt set to join the compromisers

Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt looks like he may have had enough of attacking politicians and could be joining them. Mr Bolt is set to make an announcement this afternoon about the seat of Higgins, currently held by Liberal MP and former Treasurer Peter Costello. "I am about to make an announcement given Peter Costello is out of politics soon," Mr Bolt said this morning.

Late this morning, Mr Bolt said Mr Costello had contacted him to congratulate him. "He's rather surprised, however, and has advised me to "learn to take more definite positions" and to "stop sitting on the fence". [LOL!]

Asked whether he would be running for the Liberal or Labor parties, Bolt said, "I think the Bolt Party actually". He is expected to address the speculation today on his blog. The statement by the right wing commentator follows speculation by Crikey commentator Stephen Mayne that "maybe Bolt's main chance will be in Higgins if Costello ultimately decided to spit the dummy and walk".

And he said he would be canceling his blog because of the political announcement. Bolt said today: "This is it for the blog, at least for now. I can't pre-empt the announcement that my local member and friend, Peter Costello, is about to make, but it would clearly be a conflict of interest for me to continue to write about politics here if I've privately agreed to become a player."


April fool! It was just Bolty's little joke

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