The Release of More Cane Toads

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Cane beetles were a nuisance in our sugar fields and the USA offered help. In Hawaii there were some toads that liked eating beetles. If something comes from the U.S.A, dutiful Australia is obliged to copy, so 102 USA-bred cane toads were turned loose at Gordonvale way up north.

Since no one had thought any further than the beetle-eating stage, things didn’t turn out so well. No one had measured how high the little darlings could jump…not high…and the beetles survived.

Continue reading “The Release of More Cane Toads”

Seven Principles of Education Change

The Obama administration is hell-bent on extending market incentives to improve the state of US schools. More high-stakes testing, more charter schools, more performance pay, more sanctions to punish teachers and schools.

A group of teachers called Teachers Letters to Obama has presented the President with an alternative vision based on seven principles of education change. It would be a good place to start for the Gillard Government as well. Continue reading “Seven Principles of Education Change”

Gillard Concedes Under the Collective Pressure of Teachers

The agreement of Minister Gillard to set up a working party to oversee the My School website has been the consequence of many teachers across the country making it clear that we are unhappy with the government’s intolerable treatment; silencing us, and leaving us without any say in our professional conduct whatsoever. Continue reading “Gillard Concedes Under the Collective Pressure of Teachers”

My School: The Sum of All Fears

The imminent teacher boycott of national literacy and numeracy tests gives cause to assess how well the My School website informs comparisons of school quality. Apart from creating incentives to narrow school curriculum and manipulate school test results, a major flaw is that its so-called “like school” comparisons are systematically biased in favour of private schools. Continue reading “My School: The Sum of All Fears”

Why Testing Fails: How Numbers Deceive Us All

There is broad agreement, that improving education requires assessing student outcomes, and holding those responsible accountable for the results. But, the use of standardized tests, as a tool for assessment and accountability, has resulted in more disillusionment than improvement. The heavy emphasis on testing mandated by the No Child Left Behind Law, has not lead to the sought after gains in educational outcomes. Continue reading “Why Testing Fails: How Numbers Deceive Us All”

Uniquely Australian Mimicry

Tuesday February 2, 2010

Julia Gillard: The model that we have developed here is uniquely Australian. Yes, we’ve looked at the world experience but we haven’t mimicked any other model.

Just days after the launch of the My School website and the construction of league tables in various newspapers from the data on the website, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard issued a joint statement (January 31, 2010) outlining plans to expand the information it contains. Continue reading “Uniquely Australian Mimicry”

Overtested, Overrated and Over Here

The 28th of January this year will mark a very dark day for our education system in Australia. For the first time in our history, school data will be published nationally and available online. Julia Gillard has decided to do this based on similar systems in the U.K. and United States. The minister has ignored the plethora of research condemning the approaches advocated by these countries. Continue reading “Overtested, Overrated and Over Here”