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What do I look for?


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#1 greenthumbs

Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:05 PM

We are about to buy our first home (there'll be many questions for advice soon in the home section happy.gif ). But one thing so many are suggesting is when looking at location, look at the local schools.

DS and any future siblings will be going to local gov schools - eventually - he's only 17mths.

I've been looking at the my school website, but what am I looking at? What does it all mean?

Can anyone advise where to go specifically to find out about your local schools, especially when you don't know anyone in the area with kids that go to the schools.

Thanks for any advice!

#2 Dionysus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:16 PM

When you do trawl through the myschool site, I think one of the most important things to try and figure out is the progress of the cohort.

So, the school you are looking at will have some charts/graphs/data about how each year level (3, 5, 7, 9) went in their NAPLAN.

Every school analyses this data to then implement specific programs.  The school I work at has some literacy issues in the younger years which have been addressed last year. We are eagerly looking forward to this year's NAPLAN (plus PATR and other indicators) to see how well we have done.

It is important to compare the Yr 3 data from 2 years ago with the Yr 5 data from this year, if you can.

If there has been a backslide, you must then question what is going on.

If there is little change, then you must question whether their programs are working well

If there is an increase, then the school is doing something right.



#3 Lyn29

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:09 PM

.

Edited by bye, 29 March 2013 - 02:40 PM.


#4 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:21 PM

MySchool is good for nothing.

Go do a school tour.

#5 Dionysus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:25 PM

Yep, fair enough, I agree with both of you

But, parents are using it.  So, I think it is important they interrogate the data for more than just face value.

#6 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:29 PM

I tried interpreting it.

It was too hard. If a teacher with extra studies in research adn statistics struggles, then what hope do parents have?

Seriously it takes week of PD sessions at school to understand what my own school's data tells me. I wouldn't even try to interpret multiple school sets on MySchool.

#7 tibs

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:37 PM

QUOTE (howdo @ 02/02/2013, 11:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I tried interpreting it.

It was too hard. If a teacher with extra studies in research adn statistics struggles, then what hope do parents have?

Seriously it takes week of PD sessions at school to understand what my own school's data tells me. I wouldn't even try to interpret multiple school sets on MySchool.


I use an excel spreadsheet to compare local schools  cool.gif

#8 Dionysus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:39 PM

QUOTE (tibs @ 02/02/2013, 11:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I use an excel spreadsheet to compare local schools  cool.gif



Sure, but what are you actually interpreting?  What I am saying is that families need to look at more than the raw score.  What Howdo is saying is that that is damned difficult!

#9 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:46 PM

What are you comparing?

Are you comparing cohorts or are you comparing year levels?

Are you factoring in SES percentages?

Are you accounting for student learning disabilities?

Can you account for learning difficulties - such as dyslexia which are not verifiable under the SN categories?

Are you factoring in the ESL population of the school?

Are you triangulating multiple sets of data or just looking at the NAPLAN?

#10 tibs

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:54 PM

QUOTE (**Mel** @ 02/02/2013, 11:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sure, but what are you actually interpreting?  What I am saying is that families need to look at more than the raw score.  What Howdo is saying is that that is damned difficult!


I don't think it is difficult for someone with tertiary qualifications and I think it is a little worrying that a teacher would find it difficult? I take the raw scores and do my own analysis of them.  Although I think the raw scores can tell you something for example the raw scores across all categories for year 5 students at our zoned school are LOWER than the raw scores for year 3 students at the schools in the next suburb.

#11 treetree

Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:01 PM

Personally, I look at the percentage of children that go on to University (or at least gain places). I do this because I believe that it shows that not only can the schools achieve good grades for their students, but that they also have an emphasis on encouraging further study.

Doing this recently led me to the best public schools in our area. ALL of which have a zoning rule. So you cannot attend these schools unless you live in the area (there are a few exceptions, so I'm working on it starting now!) and we do not live int he area! We live in an area where anyone can get in to our local schools, they don't care if you fly in from Mars!

#12 girltribe4

Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:01 PM

Those results are so skewed , my daughter with Dyslexia gets sent home with a ''opt out'' form each year she has been in a year to do it.

#13 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:06 PM

QUOTE (tibs @ 02/02/2013, 11:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't think it is difficult for someone with tertiary qualifications and I think it is a little worrying that a teacher would find it difficult? I take the raw scores and do my own analysis of them.  Although I think the raw scores can tell you something for example the raw scores across all categories for year 5 students at our zoned school are LOWER than the raw scores for year 3 students at the schools in the next suburb.

All it tells you is that the scores for two different cohorts of children are lower.

You are comparing two different cohorts.

It tells you only that the cohorts are different.

It doesn't tell you the school response to the data collection. It doesn't tell you anything about the cohorts. None of the data has a control group.

The most basic comparison isn't difficult, no. But the most basic comparison is pretty pointless because you're not looking at a random sample, you're comparing specific cohorts of students which may not have any similar factors.

#14 tibs

Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:07 PM

QUOTE (howdo @ 02/02/2013, 11:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What are you comparing?

Are you comparing cohorts or are you comparing year levels?

Are you factoring in SES percentages?

Are you accounting for student learning disabilities?
I'm
Can you account for learning difficulties - such as dyslexia which are not verifiable under the SN categories?

Are you factoring in the ESL population of the school?

Are you triangulating multiple sets of data or just looking at the NAPLAN?


I compare each subject data set, measuring the gain for each cohort over the 2 years as well as comparing the year levels longitudinally.  The ESL population is bimodal so can't be factored in with myschool data alone.



#15 tibs

Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:11 PM

QUOTE (howdo @ 03/02/2013, 12:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
All it tells you is that the scores for two different cohorts of children are lower.

You are comparing two different cohorts.

It tells you only that the cohorts are different.

It doesn't tell you the school response to the data collection. It doesn't tell you anything about the cohorts. None of the data has a control group.

The most basic comparison isn't difficult, no. But the most basic comparison is pretty pointless because you're not looking at a random sample, you're comparing specific cohorts of students which may not have any similar factors.


No I am referring to year 3 2009 compared to year 5 2011 data.  The same pettern was evident when comparing 2008/2010.  What it shows is the students at my local school have not reached by year 5 the level which their peers at the neighbouring school started at in year 3.


Edited by tibs, 02 February 2013 - 11:17 PM.


#16 libbylu

Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:24 PM

QUOTE (howdo @ 02/02/2013, 11:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What are you comparing?

Are you comparing cohorts or are you comparing year levels?

Are you factoring in SES percentages?

Are you accounting for student learning disabilities?

Can you account for learning difficulties - such as dyslexia which are not verifiable under the SN categories?

Are you factoring in the ESL population of the school?

Are you triangulating multiple sets of data or just looking at the NAPLAN?


I have thought about this too - but I think there is still some value in looking at raw scores because it tells you something about the cohort - each cohort will be different and so difficult to compare, but which would you rather your child be part of? A high performing or low performing cohort?  I suppose it depends a bit on your child.  Mine is bright and well ahead in literacy so I think he'd be better off somewhere with lots of other high performing kids to spur him on and complete agaisnt, where as if he were low performing I guess I would prefer a school that helped their struggling kids up to an average level.

And I agree about high school - I have just looked at the percentage of kids going to uni if you are looking for an academically oriented high school for your child.

#17 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:44 PM

I don't care how the cohort performs. I want to know if their school has an active parent body. I want to know if they have a music program and a sport program. I want to know what leadership opportunities they offer the children. I want to know if they have dedicated upper and junior school play equipment, if there is an oval or playing field. I want to know if their teachers are dedicated, experienced and enthusiastic. I want to know if they value the Arts, have Future Direction planning and support initiatives such as the Premiers Reading Challenge, a school kitchen garden and cooking program and the Music Festival.

I'd rather my child be part of a thriving, dynamic community with dedicated and active participants. I actually don't care what their cohort is achieving because I can't measure my child against their cohort. They are their own, unique person with their own strengths, talents and abilities and whether or not their cohort is high performing is largely irrelevant to their individual achievement.

#18 tibs

Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:57 PM

I'm not going to the myschool website for all those things you listed howdo that can largely be gleaned from their websites, newsletters, P&C minutes etc.  I am using myschool as another part of the puzzle.

QUOTE (howdo @ 03/02/2013, 12:44 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
They are their own, unique person with their own strengths, talents and abilities and whether or not their cohort is high performing is largely irrelevant to their individual achievement.


I disagree with this.  

I'm with libbylu

QUOTE
Mine is bright and well ahead in literacy so I think he'd be better off somewhere with lots of other high performing kids to spur him on and complete agaisnt,


#19 Expelliarmus

Posted 03 February 2013 - 12:01 AM

Mine have never competed against anyone but themselves.

shrug.gif

#20 tibs

Posted 03 February 2013 - 12:06 AM

QUOTE (howdo @ 03/02/2013, 01:01 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Mine have never competed against anyone but themselves.

shrug.gif


My son excels with external motivation.  At our local school he would be a chronic underachiever.

#21 SylviaPlath

Posted 03 February 2013 - 12:39 AM

QUOTE (tibs @ 02/02/2013, 11:37 PM)
I use an excel spreadsheet to compare local schools  cool.gif


DH (software engineer) has written a program (cos nerds get bored) that links into google maps and colours the map based on the scoring of similar cohorts so you can see where the top scores based on similar cohort are. Makes it simple for dumb people like me to understand. As such, we are now on the waiting list (had an interview and all) when DS turned 1 at the top ranking primary school in our state. Lol



#22 cantstayaway

Posted 03 February 2013 - 12:39 AM

QUOTE (howdo @ 02/02/2013, 11:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't care how the cohort performs. I want to know if their school has an active parent body. I want to know if they have a music program and a sport program. I want to know what leadership opportunities they offer the children. I want to know if they have dedicated upper and junior school play equipment, if there is an oval or playing field. I want to know if their teachers are dedicated, experienced and enthusiastic. I want to know if they value the Arts, have Future Direction planning and support initiatives such as the Premiers Reading Challenge, a school kitchen garden and cooking program and the Music Festival.

I'd rather my child be part of a thriving, dynamic community with dedicated and active participants. I actually don't care what their cohort is achieving because I can't measure my child against their cohort. They are their own, unique person with their own strengths, talents and abilities and whether or not their cohort is high performing is largely irrelevant to their individual achievement.



I agree with this.  Personally I think you can get a better idea of what a primary school is like by going to the school fete, reading a few school newsletters, taking a look at their website, phoning them and asking questions.  You can pretty quickly ascertain how enthusiastic the parents and staff are and how willing they are to get involved and the general vibe of the school.   I wouldn't rely on NAPLAN results to pick a good primary school - there is no allowance for the kids who have had a bad day and it doesn't really give a reliable snapshot of their ability.

High schools are a different kettle fish though.  MySchool can be useful for looking at things like the % of kids who got into uni, but again I wouldn't place too much emphasis on NAPLAN results.  It is also important to know things like, subjects offered, extracurricular programs, number of OP1s per year (Qld) and behaviour of students at local shops and on public transport.  My DS's highschool is one of the best performing in Qld (by number of OP1s) and I based my decision on behaviour of kids while in uniform.

#23 greenthumbs

Posted 03 February 2013 - 05:17 AM

QUOTE (howdo @ 03/02/2013, 12:44 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't care how the cohort performs. I want to know if their school has an active parent body. I want to know if they have a music program and a sport program. I want to know what leadership opportunities they offer the children. I want to know if they have dedicated upper and junior school play equipment, if there is an oval or playing field. I want to know if their teachers are dedicated, experienced and enthusiastic. I want to know if they value the Arts, have Future Direction planning and support initiatives such as the Premiers Reading Challenge, a school kitchen garden and cooking program and the Music Festival.

I'd rather my child be part of a thriving, dynamic community with dedicated and active participants. I actually don't care what their cohort is achieving because I can't measure my child against their cohort. They are their own, unique person with their own strengths, talents and abilities and whether or not their cohort is high performing is largely irrelevant to their individual achievement.


Yes, this what I want! Seriously, the other information is a different language to me. I would just like him to have a nice school experience, to have the opportunity to learn things that interest him and to be happy.

#24 lynneyours

Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:48 AM

QUOTE (SylviaPlath @ 03/02/2013, 01:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
DH (software engineer) has written a program (cos nerds get bored) that links into google maps and colours the map based on the scoring of similar cohorts so you can see where the top scores based on similar cohort are. Makes it simple for dumb people like me to understand. As such, we are now on the waiting list (had an interview and all) when DS turned 1 at the top ranking primary school in our state. Lol

Is he sharing?  Or if I pm my postcode and email, can I see my local results, for Melbourne, please?  So far, I've looked at the school website, been to the fete's and chatted to parents there, seen what other stuff they offer, such as those listed by howdo.

#25 winterlove

Posted 03 February 2013 - 07:01 AM

I appreciate that there are a lot of factors to take into account when looking at a school and a school can fudge the results by excluding certain student on the day but I would have thought that you could get a good appreciation of how a school performs by looking at the "results in numbers" page and if they perform significantly above the state average (or have a large amount of green and no red) they are a good school and this usually correlates with the socio economic factors of the area. I am using this graph to guide my home purchase.




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