Cleveland Street Intensive English High School – misleading information on My School?

This is the clearest example I have found so far of one of the weaknesses of the My School site. According to the information on that link, a naive reader would conclude it must be one of the worst schools in Australia. It has 0% Indigenous students and only 301 enrolled, but can only scrape up “Selected school’s average is substantially below  [statistically similar]  schools’ average” in ALL areas of literacy, though substantially above the average of all Australian schools in Mathematics. On the other hand the opening description of the school does attend to its special nature.

Listed as “statistically similar” are a whole host of schools**. Now whatever “statistically similar” might mean, there is no way any of the listed schools is “similar” to Cleveland Street.

welcome2 c5

This is a very special school here in Surry Hills and it is excellent in what it does.

Cleveland Street Intensive English High School’s mandate is to:

  • provide intensive English language tuition to secondary-aged, newly arrived permanent, refugee, long-term temporary resident and international students;
  • develop innovative new arrival English language, orientation, settlement, welfare and transition programs;
  • provide English as a second language (ESL), key learning areas (KLA), outcomes-based, transition to high school programs. ESL is taught through the content areas of the English, Mathematics, Science, Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE), Creative Arts (including Visual Arts, Music), Technology and Applied Studies (TAS) (including Information Communications Technology, Food Technology) and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) KLAs;
  • develop and deliver online program support to new arrival ESL secondary students and teachers in rural and isolated schools;
  • create and implement community programs for parents;
  • develop program links with tertiary educational providers;
  • develop program links with the Sydney Secondary College.

Cleveland Street Intensive English High School (CSIEHS) is a new type of school within the NSW Department of Education and Training’s system of secondary schools and was created within the revitalization of inner city schools strategy, June 2001.

Our students

Students attending the school can come from as many as 100 different countries, bringing with them a great diversity of languages, customs and beliefs. Our students are all newly-arrived, non-English speaking background students of high school age. They spend approximately three to twelve months at the school. When they are ready to leave our school most students transfer to other government high schools in order to complete their studies in the school certificate or higher school certificate. Some students will choose to begin other courses of study at other institutions, such as Technical and Further Education (TAFE), and some may go directly to work.

The My School stats read badly until you recall that some of these students don’t speak English at all when they arrive in Year 7. The wonder in fact is that the NAPLAN results are so good!

Newspaper league tables ignore the special nature of this school – and no doubt of many others.

Taking them as a guide to Cleveland Street would be very silly indeed. My advice to parents trying to derive useful information from My School, or far worse from the context-free newspaper lists, is to dig deeper, and go to the school. 

That all the schools below score better than Cleveland Street means absolutely nothing, given the facts of Cleveland Street’s clientele and mission.

** Statistically similar schools
(listed alphabetically)

Year 3 Year 5 Year 7 Year 9
Cleveland Street Intensive English High School, Surry Hills NSW 2010     477 479
Alphington Grammar School, Alphington VIC 3078 562 599
Amaroo School, Amaroo ACT 2914 549 581
Ballarat & Clarendon College, Ballarat VIC 3350 600 636
Beacon Primary School, Beacon WA 6472 499
Beaumaris Primary School, Ocean Reef WA 6027 548
Bowenville State School, Bowenville QLD 4404 555
Box Hill High School, Box Hill VIC 3128 594 628

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Post 100: Data Privacy Day is January 28, 2010!

Typically. I saw this noted on Twitter the next day — but that’s what comes of being on the “correct” side of the International Date Line here in Australia. I rather enjoy the irony in the light of the ongoing subject here.

Actually this is a further post about My School. Jim Belshaw has been up early and beaten me to it with an excellent post on Media reactions to the My School web site.

I also did ask Mr R what he thought. Since he is an ex-blogger who now inhabits Facebook that’s where I had to go. The exchange went like this:

Neil James Whitfield Have you explored My School site yet? Just blogged on it. Where you are and where you were make for interesting comparison. What do you think of NAPLAN and all that?
Today at 7:09pm · Comment · Like · See Wall-to-Wall

Mr R It’s a curious thing. SHHS is not compared to other selective schools, but schools with similar student demographics. So we come out looking pretty good, as we should. I think the whole thing’s been beat up; I can’t accept that this is a big deal. The info was available already, albeit scattered. NAPLAN is an imperfect tool, but they all are. It sucks the fun out of English, though, I will say.
10 hours ago

Neil James Whitfield My thoughts pretty much. Did you look at The Gong Perf Arts HS? (Where in fact I was but then it was the SHHS of course. If you know what I mean.)
10 hours ago ·

The Sydney Morning Herald has published various ranked lists. The trouble with these, even granting what Jim Belshaw says about their uses, is that they can’t include the comparisons with statistically similar schools. Such rankings are a very rough guide to educational quality of achievement. The possibility of people reading far too much into such information and making choices based on that is unfortunately very strong, in my opinion, so whether the Herald has been as noble as it presents itself in publishing such somewhat bastardised versions of the NAPLAN lists really should be questioned.

I am grateful to Jim for drawing attention to Stubborn Mule, a blog I hadn’t noted before. I am now going to update my recent climate change post as a result.

  • Note: The Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony has posted a strong critique.

    “OK, now my heart is thoroughly broken and trampled on. I’ve become the voter who cannot love. The infamous My School database/website has been released today (and very buggy it is, too), and what do we see as the very first headline on the dead-tree Herald Sun? OUR SCHOOLS SHAME. The banner on the online version? HOW DID YOUR SCHOOL RATE? So predictable. Don’t ask me how the Boy’s school rates (The Girl has just left the public system with an excellent VCE score and as yet no crack habit – the Boy starts year 7 on Monday. Serial only children, I haz them.) The website hasn’t worked successfully for me yet. And yes, I am aware of most internet traditions and able to work most simple interfaces, so I don’t think it’s me.”

  • I have uploaded the Cobbold article BOTCIB refers to as her link did not deliver a readable copy for me.