Sydney CEO raises performance targets
Sydney's Catholic Education Office will set performance targets for 63,000 students in a move to raise academic standards across their school network.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the CEO targets will be launched tonight at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, with endorsements by the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Premier, Morris Iemma.
The 148 parish schools will aim from next year for a system-wide lift in results in the Basic Skills Test, School Certificate and Higher School Certificate.
The executive director of the schools, Br Kelvin Canavan, said: "Target-setting of itself will not raise student achievement levels but targets help focus what happens in classrooms."
The move comes during an unprecedented national debate on the value of the HSC and year 12 certificates in other states.
Mr Howard showed scepticism yesterday at replacing state exams with a nationwide assessment, as advocated by his Education Minister, Brendan Nelson.
The Catholic school policy sets a precedent in NSW. Many schools have student performance targets but no school sector - including the 2200 public schools - has targets to lift its overall performance.
Br Kelvin said literacy and numeracy results had improved during trials of the target system in recent years. The targets were recently endorsed by principals and will be mandatory for the next five years.
They aim, for example, to get 28% of year 3 students in the top numeracy band for the Basic Skills Test by 2007, up from 23% last year.
In HSC advanced English, the target is for 7% of students to gain band six, the highest band, by 2007. Last year 5% of Sydney's Catholic students hit that target, compared with the state average of 8%.
Benchmarks will also be set for students' knowledge of religion in years 6 and 12.
Parents will be informed of their school's targets and Brother Kelvin said "targeted intervention", such as extra teachers, would take place in under-achieving schools.
Cardinal Pell said the "unapologetically Catholic" schools were "clearly focused on student achievement".
Lift your game: students' new goal (Sydney Morning Herald 18/10/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office (Archdicoese of Sydney)
Catholic Education Commission, NSW
Mixed response to technical college plan (ABC North & West SA 17/10/05)
18 Oct 2005