Albietz attacks educators

by Chris Griffith
Published 19 November 1995 in The Sunday Mail


my face


Information Commissioner Fred Albietz has attacked a state government decision to stop media organisations ranking schools using Overall Position (OP) data.

Over the past two years, The Courier-Mail has published OP data which ranked several private schools ahead of government schools.

In response to these reports, the State Government this year amended a Freedom of Information regulation to suppress access to "individual and aggregate student data about core skills tests, junior and senior certificates and tertiary entrance statements".

But in his annual report tabled in State Parliament, Mr Albietz said it was "quite disturbing" the government and leading educators had opted to suppress the data rather than argue in public how it should be interpreted.

"One wonders what other areas of government might be subjected to an information embargo because government officials do not like the way in which media organisations interpret the available information," Mr Albietz said.

"It is particularly disturbing that the proponents of this amendment, which apparently include some of our leading educators and education administrators, should fail to acknowledge the deeper issues raised by the stance they have adopted."

At the time Education Minister David Hamill said assessment data should be available only to students, parents, and teachers, and that some media outlets had wrongly used it to assess schools, rather than students.

The suppression was supported by the Queensland Council of Parents' and Citizens' Association and the Queensland Teachers' Union.

It embargoes student data held by schools, the Education Department, the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies, and the Tertiary Entrance Procedures Authority.

Mr Albietz said he accepted parents' concerns that individual student results should be confidential -- but not "anonymous" collective data.

"The proponents of this amendment are no longer prepared to engage in public debate about the appropriate interpretation of information which media organisations have perceived to be of interest to the public, but have decided instead to block access to information of that kind," he said.

"The apparent philosophy behind the exclusion of aggregate, or school-based, student data is quite disturbing."