The Federal Government’s controversial My School website, which allows visitors to digg up data on and compare schools, attracted approximately 9 million page impressions on its first day yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced today.
A statement issued by Gillard’s office said the demand — which caused the site to crash yesterday — showed how hungry parents were for information about their childrens’ schools.
“This is the first time we have ever had a robust measurement of educational advantage of the children attending each school around the nation,” the statement said.
“In many cases, this comprehensive information will challenge long-held assumptions about our schools and the students which attend those schools. That does not mean it is inaccurate.”
The website has over the past week been at the centre of a storm of controversy, with the Google News aggregator site showing more than 600 articles on the subject.
For example, the Australian newspaper has reported that although Dargo Primary School has no students this year, My School displays it as statistically similar to Melbourne private school.
Think tank the Grattan Institute has published a report calling for a stronger focus on individual student progress in literacy and numeracy within schools instead of “measuring in a way that encourages unfair comparison between schools” on the My School site.
The institute’s program direct of school education, Dr Ben Jensen, said in a statement that the My School site was “a step in the right direction” but fell short in “providing targeted practical guidance to teachers to improve student performance”.
And the Australian Education Union has threatened to boycott the next round of national student tests unless there is a mechanism to prevent schools being ‘named and shamed’.
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