A comparison of schools – enabled by MySchools v2.0

The Australian government has launched version 2 of its MySchool website. The sites is meant to hold a profile of all Australian schools and enable people to perform comparisons. There has been some significant criticism of the data included in the profiles and find the site to be technically quite flawed (e.g. its been down and when you do get access the method you use to examine and compare data is poor). There has also been the first round of media stories using the availability of the data to draw conclusions (e.g. Elite schools don’t excel).

In about 6 weeks or so I’m going to be entering one of the local high schools as part of my studies to become a teacher. The following is a quick comparison of the three schools I included on my preference list. The aim is to see what data is on the MySchools site, but also to be better informed (which may not be the case depending on your view of the data on the site) about the schools.

I’ve selected a subset of the information for the purposes of this comparison. The ICSEA characteristic in the table stands for the “Index of Community and Socio-Educational Advantage” figure formulated specifically for MySchools. The average ICSEA value is meant to 1000. The “distribution of students” uses the same data to divide the school population into quarters (bottom, two middle and a top quarter).

Characteristic School #1 School #2 School #3
ICESA 881 1003 1037
Distribution of students (top down to bottom)
  • 1%
  • 4%
  • 7%
  • 88%
  • 17%
  • 28%
  • 24%
  • 31%
  • 49%
  • 28%
  • 9%
  • 14%
Enrolments 180 (8-12) 1146 (8-12) 1269 (k-12)
Indigenous students 21% 4% 1%
LOTE 3% 1% 4%
Attendance rate 87% 92% 96%
Post school destinations

  • University
  • Vocational study
  • Employment
  • Not specified

  • 8%
  • 38%
  • 31%
  • 33%

  • 27%
  • 33%
  • 37%
  • 3%

  • 38%
  • 28%
  • 26%
  • 8%

There are some significant differences in the schools. Perhaps the difference that is most telling is the “not specified” in post-school destinations. My School doesn’t include a category called “not specified”. They just provide the other 3 figures.

But 33% of the students at School #1 are, on completion of school, neither “learning nor earning”!

And that’s without asking questions about whether this is all students, just grade 12 etc.

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