A Tale of ACARA and the See-no-evil Monkeys: There is No Excuse for Willful Ignorance

The Australian Senate’s Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee is currently holding an Inquiry into the effectiveness of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).

Over 70 submissions have been received of varying quality. In this article, I focus on the submission from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). ACARA is the custodian of NAPLAN and how it is used for school transparency and accountability purposes on the MySchool website. Continue reading “A Tale of ACARA and the See-no-evil Monkeys: There is No Excuse for Willful Ignorance”

Hyperbole about Online Learning is Not Supported by Research

Renowned education scholar and recently retired Stanford University School of Education emeritus professor, Larry Cuban, says that false expectations have been created about the potential of the internet to transform education. He says that there is little sound research to support the hyperbole around online learning. Instead, its evangelists have gathered “a grab bag of defect-filled studies claiming student achievement gains”. Continue reading “Hyperbole about Online Learning is Not Supported by Research”

Report Reveals that School Autonomy is not Working in WA

School principals in Western Australia are overloaded, under-resourced and lacking in support systems under the new regime of increased autonomy in decision-making according to an independent report. The findings suggest that school autonomy is more about cutting costs than supporting principals and improving education outcomes.

The report shows that principals have not been given the resources to match their increased responsibilities while central and district office support services have been withdrawn. It concluded that the administrative burden on principals is excessive. It says the lack of support systems threatens the achievement of desired education outcomes. Continue reading “Report Reveals that School Autonomy is not Working in WA”

Principals Say NAPLAN Has a Negative Impact on Schooling

A majority of primary school principals believe that the NAPLAN tests are having a negative impact on schooling. They say it has a negative impact on student well-being, curriculum and teaching practices and that considerable time is spent on preparing for the tests.

Two-thirds of principals say the tests impact negatively on student well-being, just over half say they have a negative impact on curriculum and 45 per cent say it has a negative impact on teaching practice in the classroom. Two-thirds of principals reported that time is spent on preparing for NAPLAN in their schools. Continue reading “Principals Say NAPLAN Has a Negative Impact on Schooling”

Gonski is on the Right Track – Money Does Matter for Disadvantaged Students

The Gonski funding model is on the right track in boosting funding for under-resourced schools and disadvantaged students. Recent academic research shows a positive relationship between school outcomes and funding, especially for the disadvantaged. It suggests that the refusal of the Victorian, Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory governments to sign on to Gonski will deprive low income, Indigenous and remote area students of the chance to improve their results.

The new study finds firm evidence that increasing school resources in England has improved student results and that more targeted spending has benefitted disadvantaged students. It adds to the weight of existing research evidence that targeting resources on disadvantaged groups is beneficial in raising their results and reducing inequality in educational outcomes. Continue reading “Gonski is on the Right Track – Money Does Matter for Disadvantaged Students”

Studies Show that Money Does Matter

A recent review of research studies in the UK on the relationship between school funding and student achievement adds to the weight of evidence that the Gonski school funding model is on the right track. The review found evidence that increasing school resources in England improves results and that more targeted spending benefits students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Continue reading “Studies Show that Money Does Matter”

Explaining the Socio-Economic Gap in School Completion Rates

A study just published by academics from the University of Melbourne has found that student and parent aspirations are key factors contributing to the large gap in school completion rates in Australia between low and high socio-economic status (SES) students. Another key factor is lower achievement by low SES students at age 15.

Dropping out of school has deleterious effects on the careers and life prospects of young adults. A large body of literature demonstrates that early school leavers have difficulty finding and retaining employment and are more likely to be in low-paid jobs compared to those who complete school. Closing gaps in completion by SES will help address the imbalance in student opportunity by family background and reduce intergenerational inequity. Continue reading “Explaining the Socio-Economic Gap in School Completion Rates”

The Gillard School Funding Plan is a Watershed But is Not the Full Gonski

This is a speech to a Gonski Information Forum in Perth by Trevor Cobbold on 6 June.

The new school funding plan passed by the House of Representatives last week is a potential watershed for school funding in Australia. It breaks new ground in the history of school funding with its focus on increasing equity in education. Its adoption of Gonski’s equity goals and principles sets the foundation for the future.

Continue reading “The Gillard School Funding Plan is a Watershed But is Not the Full Gonski”

Queensland Premier Criticises NAPLAN as Misleading and Narrowing the Curriculum

The Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, has broken the bi-partisanship on national testing. He has criticised NAPLAN as a high stakes test that is misleading and narrowing the curriculum. Continue reading “Queensland Premier Criticises NAPLAN as Misleading and Narrowing the Curriculum”

High Myopia Prevalence in East Asia Linked to After-School Tutoring

A new academic study has linked the high prevalence of myopia in East Asian countries with extensive use of after-school tutoring. It found that countries with high prevalence of myopia combined high educational performance with high engagement in after-school tutoring. Other countries such as Australia with low levels of myopia achieve high education outcomes with little after-school tutoring. Continue reading “High Myopia Prevalence in East Asia Linked to After-School Tutoring”