Crunch time for teachers' test ban
- From: The Australian
- April 12, 2010
THE Australian Education Union is today expected to formally ban teachers from conducting tests that will be used for the My School website, buoyed by an opinion poll showing a small majority of parents believe the action would be justified.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, claiming the support of "mums and dads" for the tests, called on the union to drop its plans and reiterated her threat to use parents to usurp the ban and act as supervisors for next month's National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy tests.
"Banning the tests would be bad for students, bad for the kids, bad for parents and bad for transparency," Ms Gillard said.
"The nation should know what is happening in our schools."
Tony Abbott seized on the deepening dispute, saying the Education Minister had "completely lost control of her portfolio if she's talking about tests not be administered by professional people".
The AEU yesterday released the results of a national poll that found 54 per cent of public school parents believed the ban would be justified, with 46 per cent opposed.
But the general public was evenly split.
The online poll of 1000 people nationwide, by research company Interconsult, found 51 per cent of all people believed the ban would be justified, compared with 49 per cent against.
The AEU's federal executive will today vote on whether to implement a professional ban on the national NAPLAN tests, which provide crucial data for the My School website.
AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos attacked Ms Gillard for failing to meet the union on the issue, saying the poll found 85 per cent of people believed she should meet the union.
The union has demanded changes to the website, arguing it allows the compilation of league tables ranking schools.
But Ms Gillard told the ABC's Insiders program the union was asking her to "gut My School and I just won't do it".
"My School is all about putting more power into the hands of parents than they've ever had before by giving them more information about their child's school than they ever had before," she said.
Ms Gillard said the option of asking parents to assist with supervising the tests, under instruction from qualified supervisors, remained on the table. She said she knew parents wanted the My School site, which had received about 2.7 million visits.
"Parents have literally voted with their fingertips in extraordinary numbers because they want this information," she said.
Mr Gavrielatos described Ms Gillard's threat to use parents as test supervisors as "regrettable".
He said Ms Gillard had refused to meet the union to discuss its proposal to "improve" the My School website and "protect students and schools from the damage of league tables and improper ranking of schools".
The Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of NSW yesterday expressed outrage at Ms Gillard's suggestion to use parents as supervisors in the tests scheduled from May 11-13 and called on her to meet the union.
You mean it is possible to have a union that is willing to fight against the misuse of student data.....