Saturday, August 08, 2009

Private schools top the class as results compared

Surprise! Note that these results are for Queensland only. NSW has made it illegal to release such information about their schools

STATE high schools were trounced by their private counterparts in last year's national numeracy and literacy tests, with only one in the 40 highest-scoring schools. The revelation is just one contained in today's inaugural release of NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) data by the Queensland Government, with students' results from years 3, 5, 7 and 9 chronicled "in a single statewide compilation". Analysis of the list reveals:

• State schools, particularly high schools and those in lower socio-economic areas, were outperformed by their private school counterparts.

• Only five state high schools appeared in the top 100 list for average school results.

• Brisbane State High School [a selective school] performed particularly well in academic scores – ranking fifth statewide – while Kenmore, Indooroopilly, Mansfield and The Gap state high schools also made the top 100.

• State primary schools did much better than their senior counterparts, with Indooroopilly, Ironside and Norman Park in the top 10.

• Of the schools which had all their results published, only six had 100 per cent of students above the National Minimum Standard in every year and every category. Four were too small to include in the top 10 – the Agnew schools at Wakerley and Nambour, the Samford Valley Steiner School and the School of Total Distance Education at Warwick.

• Schools with large numbers of indigenous students continued to perform poorly.

Controversy continues to surround the release of NAPLAN data, with NSW banning the publication of any list that ranks schools by results. Meanwhile, education stakeholders yesterday urged parents not to judge schools by the latest list alone.

Author of the NSW amendment which banned league tables, Greens MP John Kaye, said although the Queensland list would not be outlawed in his state, it was misleading. "Reducing the complexities of schools down to a single number or even a set of numbers is not only misleading, it will undermine educational outcomes as teachers are forced to teach to the tests at the expense of the remainder of the curriculum," Dr Kaye said.

Queensland Association of State School Principals president Norm Hart said making comparisons with the list could malign some excellent schools that were doing extremely well given their resources.

State Education Minister Geoff Wilson said the information alone was not enough to judge a school. "It is a snapshot and a snapshot only. It is one part of the total picture of information that parents should take into account," he said. [Any suggestion about what else parents should take into account?]


Leftist politician links immigration to terrorism

At last somebody mentions the obvious. The Muslim hostility often seen and heard in Australia (See e.g. here) mostly comes from people not born in Australia.

A FEDERAL Labor MP wants Australia's migration intake to be slashed so authorities can conduct more rigorous security checks. Kelvin Thomson said a smaller migration program would make it easier to assess whether applicants posed a terrorism threat. His comments come just days after police arrested several men in Victoria for alleged links to a Somali-based terrorist group.

"Given time, it would be possible to get to the bottom of the background of applicants from Somalia; and elsewhere work out whether they have any association with fundamentalist groups and make a rational assessment of whether they pose a risk," he told year 12 students at a foreign affairs forum in Melbourne.

Mr Thomson, a government backbencher, said Australia's immigration intake should be cut back to where it was during the Keating years. "Reducing our rates of immigration intake to the rates prevailing back in the 1990s would provide authorities with much more time in which to assess applications, and thereby improve Australia's security," he said. "My own view about this is that there needs to be more vetting of both prospective migrants and temporary residents, including students, to minimise the risk that people who do not respect Australia's laws and legal system will enter this country."

Police arrested four men of Somali and Lebanese descent in Victoria on Tuesday, on suspicion of being linked to Somali-based radical group al-Shabaab. It is alleged the men had planned a suicide shoot-out at Sydney's Holsworthy military base.

Without referring to them by name, Mr Thomson said these suspects were examples of people who did not respect Australia. "Someone who refuses to stand up when asked by a judge, and says 'I stand only before God', does not respect Australia's laws or legal system," he said.

Migration rates had skyrocketed from 82,000 a year in the mid-1990s to 148,000 in 2006 and 2007. The number of temporary entry visas, including students, also skyrocketed from 265,000 in 1995-96 to over 4 million in 2006-07. "This volume is putting our immigration authorities under a lot of pressure, and making it difficult for them to do their job," Mr Thomson said.

The Government's parliamentary secretary for multicultural affairs, Laurie Ferguson, disagreed with Mr Thomson's call to cut back migration, telling ABC radio there needed to be more resources to conduct speedier background checks. Mr Thomson, the MP for the ethnically diverse inner-Melbourne electorate of Wills, stressed the "overwhelming majority" of migrants were not criminals.


Keen law-enforcement in Queensland again: 10 years to match fingerprints

JUSTICE can be slow but even two of the legal world's veterans were today stunned when it was revealed police took 10 years to match fingerprints at a crime scene with those of the culprit. In the District Court in Brisbane, Richard Allan Crookall , 29, pleaded guilty to the burglary of a house on September 30, 1998.

Crookall broke into the house at Wavell Heights, in Brisbane's north, and stole jewellery, money, CDs and sunglasses. Forensics police found a fingerprint at the scene on October 1, 1998. However, the fingerprint was finally matched to Crookall on December 12, 2008.

His fingerprints had been in the"system" since 1997 when he appeared on drugs charges and Crookall was a regular visitor to the courts in the past decade . He was sentenced to 30 months jail in 2007 for burglary offences.

When told there had been a delay in processing the fingerprint, long serving Judge Keith Dodds replied: "That is an understatement. These charges should have been before the sentencing judge at least in 2007. What do you want me to do set him back to jail?" The court heard, however, Crookall had breached his parole and was now due for release on September 7.

Barrister Peter Nolan, for Crookall, said the delay was "inexcusable". "If ever there was a case of no further punishment this is it. This offence should ahve been dealt with years ago," Mr Nolan said.

Judge Dodds sentenced Crookall to a further 10 months jail term with parole on September 7.


Right to refuse medical treatment upheld

A court has granted a dying man the right to refuse medical treatment due to his religious beliefs. The man, who is aged in his 70s but cannot be named for legal reasons, did not wish to undergo dialysis treatment after he was admitted on July 1 to a hospital run by the Hunter New England Area Health Service. He was suffering from septic shock and respiratory failure.

Known as "Mr A", the man later suffered from renal failure and was kept alive by mechanical ventilation and kidney dialysis until the hospital discovered a document indicating he would refuse dialysis due to his beliefs as a member of the Jehovah's Witness religion. The area health service took the case to the Supreme Court to ensure the man's refusal of medical treatment was legal.

In the Supreme Court today, Justice Robert McDougall said it was unclear whether the refusal of dialysis was part of the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witness faith but a "capable adult" was entitled to refuse medical treatment on religious, social or moral grounds "or indeed upon no apparent rational grounds ... and is entitled to respect ... regardless". "That is so, even if, as it appears in the case, the likely consequence of giving effect to Mr A's wishes ... is that he will die," the judge said.

The document Mr A signed also stated he would refuse any blood transfusions or storage of his own blood for a later transfusion.


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