Rosary Primary School is the fifth least funded school in the ACT, yet the year three students of the Catholic school in Watson were among the top performers in last year's NAPLAN tests.
The league tables compiled by The Canberra Times from data on the MySchool website show Rosary was in the top four schools across all literacy tests - reading, writing, spelling and grammar - for year three students, showing marked improvement from the 2012 results.
The same group's numeracy score ranked it 11th, where it was in 2012, although Moira Najdecki, director of the Catholic Education Office, baulked at the use of rankings.
"I think comparisons are odious. I think schools are all at different stages in their lives and development," she said.
"I think what we really want to see is that a school value-adds, that a child is actually gaining between year 3 and 5, between year 5 and 7, and 7 and 9, so the actual comparison between schools is almost meaningless, because everyone's coming from a different baseline."
Rosary Primary's principal Maureen Doszpot said the school does not teach to the NAPLAN test, but the data was a useful tool for teachers in gauging where the students stood in comparison to the national average. "We looked at the data when it was released last year and saw our year threes had done well. Our year fives have done well but not as well as our year threes," she said.
Nevertheless, she said there was no pressure to carry those results through in the coming years.
"Every cohort is slightly different - that group of children did well on that test on that day, but we can't say that the next group of children are going to do well on that test on that day," she said.
"That's why I look holistically … what trends can we see, have we suddenly dropped down across the board in any area? Or have we improved in the areas we've been targeting? The school targets certain identified aspects of literacy and numeracy each year, and has an early intervention program which aims to bring children in kindergarten, and years one and two who are having difficulty with literacy and numeracy up to speed.
"What we see is the cumulative result of lots of years of teaching, not just year three or not just year five, it's a cumulative effect."
Mrs Doszpot said the fact the school received a relatively small amount of funding showed they did the best they could with limited resources. "When you've got good teachers, a cohesive staff, a cohesive vision and really supportive parents who are there working with us, that to me is what makes a school," she said.