Tudge Fudges School Results and Funding

The Minister for Education, Alan Tudge, resorted to fudging figures to denigrate Australia’s school performance at the The Age education summit last week. He claimed the UK as the new benchmark for education performance but he misrepresented its results by ignoring serious flaws in them and other evidence showing no improvement. He also fudged data on school funding and student results in Australia.

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Does Education Technology Improve Learning?

In recent years, use of information and communications technology in classroom learning has increased massively. A new paper published in the Journal of Economic Literature provides a comprehensive review of studies of the impact of new technology on learning. It finds that some education technologies contribute to the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills in some circumstances and some are not as successful. It recommends more detailed research on the mechanisms by which these technologies can improve learning and in what education situations.

The overall results of the review suggest that educators and policy makers should exercise considerable caution in selecting education technology products and not be seduced by the marketing campaigns of education technology companies. Relatively few education technology products have been thoroughly evaluated for learning and cost effectiveness. Educators need support in deciding which products offer the most potential for meeting for the learning needs of their school and classroom. Inadequate discrimination in the adoption of products can be highly wasteful financially and fail to improve learning.

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Statement on the “Science of Reading” from US Think Tank

The US National Education Policy Center and the Education Deans for Justice and Equity have jointly released a Policy Statement on the “Science of Reading”. It is reprinted here in the interests of promoting rational debate.

For the past few years, a wave of media has reignited the unproductive Reading Wars, which frame early-literacy teaching as a battle between opposing camps. This coverage speaks of an established “science of reading” as the appropriate focus of teacher education programs and as the necessary approach for early-reading instruction. Unfortunately, this media coverage has distorted the research evidence on the teaching of reading, with the result that policymakers are now promoting and implementing policy based on misinformation.

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Lessons Learned From Technology in the Classroom

Larry Cuban, Emeritus Professor of Education at Stanford University, recently drew on his extensive study of technology in education over many years to draw some key lessons about the use of technology in the classroom. The following are extracts from his article which is available on his blog.

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What is really going on in Finland’s school reform?

Finland has been in the spotlight of the education world since it appeared, against all odds, on the top of the rankings of an international test known as PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment, in the early 2000s. Tens of thousands visitors have traveled to the country to see how to improve their own schools. Hundreds of articles have been written to explain why Finnish education is so marvelous — or sometimes that it isn’t. Millions of tweets have been shared and read, often leading to debates about the real nature of Finland’s schools and about teaching and learning there.

We have learned a lot about why some education systems — such as Alberta, Ontario, Japan and Finland — perform better year after year than others in terms of quality and equity of student outcomes. We also understand now better why some other education systems — for example, England, Australia, the United States and Sweden — have not been able to improve their school systems regardless of politicians’ promises, large-scale reforms and truckloads of money spent on haphazard efforts to change schools during the past two decades.

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Class Sizes will be “The Biggest Ever” Boasts President Trump

Doubling down on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent claim that students “can learn better with larger classes, with more students to collaborate with, to learn with,” President Trump this morning bragged that the U.S. will lead the world in class size. “Under President Trump, our classes will be huge. They’ll be the biggest, most beautiful class sizes you’ve ever seen, believe me!”

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US Senate Bill Proposes Smaller Class Sizes for High-Poverty School Districts

Following a year of teacher strikes where educators in West Virginia, Los Angeles, Denver and beyond called for wage increases and reduced class sizes, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced a new bill to incentivize smaller class sizes in kindergarten and first, second and third grades. The legislation, which would allocate $2 billion for competitive grant funding, primarily to high-poverty school districts in the United States, is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Michael Bennet (CO). The bill is also endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, and First Focus Campaign for Children.

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New Study Undermines Case for a Year 1 Phonics Test

A new study comprehensively refutes the claim that phonetics is little used in teaching reading in Australian schools. It shows that the large majority of teachers in Australian primary schools use a combination of methods in teaching reading, including phonetics.

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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”

The Hidden Cost of East Asian Test Results

East Asian countries dominate the education arms race. Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan regularly get the highest scores on international tests such as the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Other countries, including Australia, seek to emulate their test results.

However, a key factor behind the success of these countries is the cultural emphasis on studying at the expense of other activities outside school. This brings costs in terms of student well-being and health which are frequently ignored.

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