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Academics weigh in on improving education

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The Educator | 13 Apr 2017, 09:50 AM Agree 0
A new report highlights the issues with the status quo in Australia's schools and suggests a fix
  • Mel | 13 Apr 2017, 01:37 PM Agree 0
    In my 19 years of teaching, money is poured into the bottom 25 percent of the student population. Those students, after receiving 7 years of individualised support in the primary school setting through programs like reading recovery, minilit and mulitilit, plus support from Learning Support Teachers, still remain in the bottom 25 percent of students. If we are to remain competitive in our global community, money should also be spent building the capacity of the middle 50 percent. Often these students have a greater ability to achieve a higher standard but require extra attention through varied teacher instruction, repeated instruction and small group learning which is not offered to this cohort. The top 25 percent will always perform provided they maintain motivation, perhaps through GATS style classes, STEM and higher order thinking projects. I have to say that parenting plays as big a part too. Parents need to support learning, support teaching and education and stop making excuses for their children. By undermining the value of education, teachers and the system, they are setting their children and our society up for failure. I know this is very generalised but imagine if we spent some money on the more capable kids? What harm could it do? That's harm just competitiveness, higher achievement, personal success, Australian advancement in our global economy and a much happier society.
  • numbadda | 19 Apr 2017, 04:18 PM Agree 0
    Part of the problem is the bell curve. With the measurement being the top 25%, the middle 50% and then the failing bottom 25% there are always going to be 25% 'failing' no matter how well they do. With the goal post constantly shifting through tests designed to catch kids out and sort the wheat from the chaff (and let's call that 'Problem Solving' to give it legitimacy) or unfair as schools who feel under pressure preparing for tests years in advance.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't we start sensibly with a BST (Basic Skills Test). We set a benchmark of educational entitlement for all kids. The benchmark didn't move as (some) kids got better at the tests. We then threw resources at the kids below it. Schools could then design learning that ensured deep learning with high intellectual quality and a focus on developing important social capital for all kids. Better still, why not return to the highly efficient and effective system developed in South Aust where quantitative data sets of teacher judgement data (A-E) were peer reviewed by the system, quality assured and worked like a self-cleaning oven - the process improved teachers accountability and the quality of assessment and learning design. Or, the NZ system where children's progress is tracked in real time (as they learn things) and responded to (assessment FOR learning) - identifies coasters along with strugglers. Basically, depoliticise our work and use educators knowledge and skill to improve outcomes. Dare I say ... like Finland and other high performing systems.
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