Does Australia need an assessment tool to measure literacy and numeracy achievement in Year 1 classrooms?

The introduction of a National Year 1 Literacy and Numeracy Check has been heavily criticised by the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) in a position statement. It says that there is an unreasonable over-emphasis on phonics in the new assessment tool. Continue reading “Does Australia need an assessment tool to measure literacy and numeracy achievement in Year 1 classrooms?”

OECD Report Shows that the Allocation of Resources in Australian Schools is Highly Inequitable

A new report by the OECD shows that about one-third of the variation in science performance across OECD countries is explained by the degree of equity in the allocation of educational resources across advantaged and disadvantaged schools. Countries with more equitable systems performed better on average. The report shows that the allocation of resources in Australian schools is highly inequitable.

The report shows that students in socio-economically disadvantaged schools in Australia are less exposed than students in advantaged schools to the learning environments and educational resources that matter the most for science performance. Effective teaching practices, a favourable school climate, exposure to science and access to educational resources are all better in advantaged schools than in disadvantaged schools in Australia. Continue reading “OECD Report Shows that the Allocation of Resources in Australian Schools is Highly Inequitable”

Pathetic Response by Teach for Australia to Criticisms

Teach for Australia (TFA) has abjectly failed to answer criticisms of the program. Save Our Schools has criticised TFA on several grounds:
• The large majority of its teachers are in marginally disadvantaged schools instead of highly disadvantaged schools;
• Its attrition rate is very much higher than for traditionally-trained early career teachers;
• The high turnover of TFA teachers imposes additional financial and human resource costs on schools and negatively impacts on disadvantaged students;
• It is a very high cost program in comparison with traditional teacher training; and
• There is no substantive evidence that TFA teachers improve student results more than traditionally trained teachers. Continue reading “Pathetic Response by Teach for Australia to Criticisms”

Teach for Australia Fails in its Mission

An evaluation report on the fast-track teacher training program, Teach for Australia (TFA), raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the program. It shows that TFA teachers are not being placed in genuinely disadvantaged schools and a high proportion leave teaching within three years of completing the program. It calls for changes to increase retention such as longer placement lengths, or incentives for TFA teachers to stay in disadvantaged classrooms. There are also serious questions about the cost effectiveness of TFA and its impact on student outcomes.

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Scotch College Property Buying Spree Supported by the Taxpayer

It was reported in The Age this week that the elite Melbourne private school, Scotch College, has been on a $25 million spending spree over the past 20 years buying up surrounding properties to expand the school. It is part of the facilities arms race between wealthy private schools to market the school and lure students.

What The Age report did not mention is that this spending spree was directly and indirectly supported by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments. Continue reading “Scotch College Property Buying Spree Supported by the Taxpayer”

PISA Rankings Are Misleading Because of Differences in Student Coverage

One of the standout performers in the results from PISA 2015 was Vietnam. It achieved a ranking of 8th in science with a score of 525, which was significantly above Australia’s score of 510. More remarkably, only 6% of its students were below the minimum PISA standard compared to 18% of students in Australia. Vietnam had the smallest proportion of students below the science standard of the 72 countries and economies participating in PISA 2015.

However, there seems to be more than meets the eye in these results because over half of Vietnam’s 15-year-old population was not covered by the PISA sample because they were not in school. Continue reading “PISA Rankings Are Misleading Because of Differences in Student Coverage”

Guiding Principles for School Reform and Classroom Practice

Emeritus Professor of Education at Stanford University, Larry Cuban, offers the principles that have guided his thinking and actions as a practitioner, scholar, and blogger about teaching, learning, and school reform. Professor Cuban has published extensively on the history of curriculum and teaching, educational leadership, school reform and the uses of technology in classrooms. This article was originally published on the 8th anniversary of his blog School Reform and Classroom Practice and is reprinted with permission. Continue reading “Guiding Principles for School Reform and Classroom Practice”

Community Schools Are a Successful Strategy for School Improvement

Community schools can be a successful strategy for improving schools according to a new review of research studies and program evaluations. It found strong evidence that well-implemented community schools contribute to school improvement, particularly in the case of high-poverty schools. It is a strategy that should be considered by the Gonski review on how funding should be used to improve school performance and student achievement.

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Factors Contributing to School Success by Disadvantaged Students

A key issue to be addressed by the new Gonski review is how to improve school outcomes for disadvantaged students. A new US study contributes to this by examining disadvantaged students’ own perceptions of what it takes to succeed at school. It found that strong peer relationships, caring supportive teachers, family and community support, and strong motivations all contribute significantly to school success by disadvantaged students.

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Inclusion Rules the Day

Couple insensitivity with ignorance and very little good will follow. With a little luck, we will avoid the worst of the damage that could come from Senator Pauline Hanson’s public outburst, in which she argued for the removal of children with autism from mainstream schools. The public outrage her remarks evoked has been encouraging.

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