New research shows what makes a difference in teaching literacy and why ‘evidence-based’ is not enough

Public discourse about schooling generally assumes that it’s in crisis. The script goes something like this: There’s a problem and it’s big – really big! Test results show us Australia is going downhill and teachers need to be accountable. There are ‘evidence-based’ solutions but teachers are not using them. If they did, literacy standards would improve, test results would improve, and Australia would be among the best in the world again.

Well we have some good news and bad news for you. Continue reading “New research shows what makes a difference in teaching literacy and why ‘evidence-based’ is not enough”

Who is for teaching?

What conclusion can be drawn from the Turnbull government’s announcement that a national review of teacher registration, will examine ways in which the process for becoming a teacher around Australia will be streamlined in order to make it easier for people in the trades and other professions to switch careers? It begs the question of why aren’t teachers being encouraged to rapidly retrain as tradies, nurses or for other professions, to fill skill shortages in rural Australia? Continue reading “Who is for teaching?”

Doubt About Reliability of Figures on Teacher Attrition in Australia

Commonly cited figures on teacher attrition in Australia are not reliable according to a new research paper. It found there is no robust evidence to support claims that 30–50% of Australian teachers leave teaching within their first five years. In fact, it says, the teacher attrition rate in Australia is unknown. Continue reading “Doubt About Reliability of Figures on Teacher Attrition in Australia”

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.

Continue reading “Teach for Australia Fails in its Mission”

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”

Australia Has High Quality Teaching but Too Much Out-of-Field Teaching

There was much wringing of hands at the continuing decline in Australia’s reading, mathematics and science results revealed by the results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) published last December. Unfortunately, there was little in the way of constructive analysis of the factors behind the declines.

Continue reading “Australia Has High Quality Teaching but Too Much Out-of-Field Teaching”

The De-Professionalization of Teaching

Competition and choice policies in education are leading to the de-professionalization of teaching. A policy brief published by the US National Education Policy Centre titled Reversing the Deprofessionalization of Teaching says that it is being driven by fast-track teacher preparation, teacher evaluation based on student test scores and the use of scripted, narrow curricula.

Continue reading “The De-Professionalization of Teaching”

Reflections on Teaching: The Craft of Teaching

School teaching is a craft. A school teacher is an adult in a room full of children and the task is to look after the children, supervise their social behaviour, and give them skills and knowledge.

When I use the word ‘craft’, I don’t mean making things out of seashells. I mean an activity that involves using skill to achieve a practical end. You learn how to teach by doing it. Parenting skills are probably the most valuable skills to have. There are many teaching methods and every teaching situation is different, so a teacher needs to have many techniques and must constantly be thinking about which ones to use.

Continue reading “Reflections on Teaching: The Craft of Teaching”

Principal Leadership Makes Teacher Training Effective

Surveys of beginning teachers by the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association in the middle years of the last decade provided conclusive data that teacher trainees valued very highly their experiences in schools prior to graduation, in many cases finding this more useful than some of the experiences in their tertiary institutions. So, principals have a significant responsibility in making this experience as valuable as possible, especially as we want high quality teachers in every classroom in every school. Continue reading “Principal Leadership Makes Teacher Training Effective”