Under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the government has been embarking on a project making more government-held data available in a format that can be usable in apps and for other purposes — but there are clearly limits.

A freedom of information request this week on the website Right to Know revealed that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, the government agency that keeps all NAPLAN results and other school data, had asked for data from the MySchool database, including NAPLAN results, and school demographic information be removed from Figshare, a London-based data sharing website. It was published on the site under the creative commons open licence.

According to the emails, ACARA was concerned that allowing the data to be hosted in that form online could lead to the creation of league tables comparing schools.

The person who filed the FOI said he had been shown an app that would have functioned like the MySchool website.

The government has been at a pains to prevent league tables being made from MySchool data because it would allow comparisons between schools in low-socio economic areas and those in more well-off areas or private schools, where the results will differ wildly, without offering context as to why students in one area perform better than students in another area.

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Peter Fray

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