The answer is pretty much everything. And the debate continues again. The Australian government wants to put all manner of information regarding schools and their performance online. The idea is to highlight to parents and to others differences and so hopefully to put pressure into the system to do something about it. Somewhat predictably, the International Confederation of School Principals has objected. They argue that the information on disadvantage has not helped performance of those schools in England and elsewhere (although it appeared to help their funding). Also, the test scores are supposedly not a good indicator of current performance (being 8 months old). 8 months old! Exactly, what would change about a school in 8 months? They also regard the NAPLAN tests as inadequate. From what I have seen from those tests (and we had two rounds last year), they are at least as informative as any other information I, as a parent, are getting from the school. Indeed, in many respects they are more so precisely because you can see information on the distribution of results as well as your child’s place in it.
The main worry about the MySchool website is that it will be crippled somehow into some aggregate league tables while keeping the underlying data as well as historical information obscure. That is what will be of most use in generating complete information to assist in parent choice and political pressure. Otherwise, it may end up the way of GroceryChoice that never stood a chance precisely because the information was kept hidden.
Hopefully, the Gov2.0 people will get on to this and MySchool will have an open standard and available data as appears to be the case in the US. This will allow others to set up websites to build on the comparative information and provide more subjective comments. Just take a look at GreatSchools. All of the standardised tests are there as well as historical information and comments — not just from parents but (egad!) from students. It was invaluable for us in choosing a school and also working out that thinking about private schools here is just not worth it relative to public options. In other words, high performance can be informative too.