New report card for Sydney Catholic schools

Sydney's 148 Catholic schools will be rated on their performance in all areas of education - from student achievement to how well they display religious symbols - in a new system of review for parents.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the marking system, to be announced today, will be carried out by principals and then independently reviewed by education authorities.

The marks will show the parents of 63,000 students how well their child's school performed on a scale of one to seven in 30 "components" seen as critical to raising standards.

They include "Catholic life and culture", financial management, selection and retention of staff, teaching practices and student achievement, maintenance of facilities, school culture, commitment to pastoral care, greenery in the playground and even water conservation.

The scores will be published in end-of-year reports that the NSW Board of Studies requires all schools to make public.

The Sydney Catholic Education Office's executive director of schools, Br Kelvin Canavan, said the new system would enable schools to measure the value added to students' learning.

"We wanted to take the hit and miss out of school evaluation," he said. "Traditionally schools review themselves and someone strolls in and says, 'This is satisfactory, that is satisfactory' but there were no firm benchmarks. These criteria will remove ambiguity."

Other NSW Catholic dioceses had expressed an intention to introduce the same or similar standards, Br Canavan said.

Sydney Catholic authorities set a statewide precedent last October when they set five-year targets to lift academic achievement across the whole sector. The State Government followed when it announced that all 2300 public schools would be required to set three-year performance goals in literacy, numeracy and attendance.

Catholic school targets aim, for example, to get 28% of year three students in the top numeracy band for the Basic Skills Test by next year, up from 23% in 2004. In HSC advanced English, the target is for 7% of students to gain band six, the highest band, by 2007, up from 5% in 2004. The state average that year was 8%.

New report card for Catholic schools (Sydney Morning Herald 17/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office, Sydney | Review Framework
Catholic Education Commission, NSW

17 Jan 2006