Reporting proposals a cause for concern

Teachers are expressing grave misgivings over the possible compulsory introduction of comparative data in the report cards of every student, which could potentially open the door to the creation of more league tables.

The Department of Education and Training (DET) is currently considering three “hot” student reporting issues: written reports in prep, A-E ratings in year three and the inclusion of graphs showing children’s achievement in comparison to other students.

The working party on OneSchool reporting, on which the QTU is represented, is looking into DET’s implementation of the national curriculum and other legislative requirements.  At its first meeting, the working party was presented with a number of proposed changes. Some of them were minor, however some have significant implications for reporting on student achievement in Queensland state schools.

In summary, the major changes being proposed are:

  • to discontinue the early learning record from the beginning of semester 2 and replace it in prep with a written report, using a five-point scale
  • the introduction of an A-E rating in year three, rather than the use of the current prose descriptors
  • the inclusion in all student reports of comparative reporting, using graphs to show achievement relative to that of other students in the peer group at the school – this was previously only provided upon parental request.

There have been no changes proposed to the nomenclature used in years one and two and minor changes to the nomenclature used in years four to ten.

Early years teacher members have expressed their disappointment at the prospect of an A-E nomenclature in year three, as it is their professional view that year three children in Queensland are best served by a P-3 reporting framework. They also have reservations as to the wisdom of introducing written reports with associated “ratings” in prep, particularly as they feel that there has not yet been widespread consultation on the matter.

The QTU has grave concerns that the providing of comparative data on every report card will not only threaten student privacy, but may result in the creation of league tables that unfairly and unhelpfully compare schools against each other.

The QTU’s Professional Issues Committee, Early Childhood Sub-committee, Education Leaders’ Committee, Executive and the March meeting of State Council have all expressed their concern. The QTU’s position is that DET should increase its consultation on these matters and include widespread and authentic communication with people in schools as an important part of its processes.

As a result of QTU input to the working party, at the time of writing no decisions had been made as to these three controversial changes. As a result, DET have informed schools that there would no major change to reporting requirements for semester one 2012.

The QTU will continue to represent members through advocacy and active involvement in all negotiations about student reporting.

Catherine Day
Research Officer

Paige Bousen
Assistant Secretary - Education Leaders

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 3, 20 April 2012, p14