NAPLAN

Cultivating global competencies

Cultivating Global Competencies

Dr Yong Zhao

University of Oregon

CEE-Melbourne Girls Grammar, 1/6/2016

Yong Zhao is an engaging presenter and began by talking about some of the problems facing young people, particularly youth unemployment. In the USA 30% of graduates live at home with their parents,the highest percentage ever. ‘We mis-educated our kids, we educated them for a society that no longer exists’.

Zhao emphasised the differences between learners, in their intelligence/s and their human motivations (Dr Steven Reiss lists 16 basic human motivations and their objects of desire) Not everyone has the same motivations, not everyone is equally driven. However, schools ‘shoot for the average, students have to fit into existing positions’ (aka standardised testing)

Zhao described the fourth industrial revolution (steam engine, electricity, computers, AI) and the loss of jobs in what were high skill human jobs (passports, banking, assembly lines …)

So, what can we do to ‘counter the machines’? We need to re-think education (Problem for me here: I don’t agree that education has been preparing students for low-skill jobs)

‘Evidence only works within a certain paradigm’ – be careful of over-reliance on evidence (eg NAPLAN) Norm referenced assessment leads to deficit driven actions.

How can we make children thrive? Celebrate the human-ness of us, our diversity. Diversity has not been valuable in the past; in the future it will be. Artists in the work force have tripled, there are things that machines can’t do. We have a huge appetite for psychological, aesthetic and spiritual products, products that create choice for the new middle class. Computers aren’t good at that. The useless has become useful! Run away from what you’re not good at.

So, what for schools? Embrace the ‘deficits’. Start with the students. Became places of opportunity. School readiness should be about the school being ready for the child. I liked: “PISA is a homogenisation measurement”. Foster social and emotional learning, entrepreneurial mindset: accept the fact that there is no job and create value and your own job. Don’t teach problem-solving, teach them to choose what problems are worth solving. Find the opportunity in crisis. He argued for student autonomy: voice, choice, support (social intelligence, not collaboration), working towards authentic products. (World Class Learners) Teachers become ‘curators of learning opportunities’, mentors. Don’t try to teach. Move away from ‘just in case’ teaching, to product-orientated learning.(meaningful products, sustained process, from isolated classroom to global perspectives) (see http://www.edcorps.org) We worry too much about teaching, and not enough about learning.

On a chilly Melbourne evening, it was stimulating stuff.

Books he talked about:

  • ‘World Class Learners’
  • ‘The Second Machine Age’
  • ‘The End of Average’
  • ‘Counting what Counts’

He did this whole presentation using just the camera roll of his Ipad.

Images from The Illustrated London News for April, 1853. 

 

 

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Collaborative curriculum development 

Collaborative curriculum innovation: balancing rigour and engagement.
Mathilda Joubert and Cheryllynne Gostelow

This session, from two Western Australian presenters, began with the need for change, but began with a NAPLAN reference as the need for that change, a marked difference from the emphasis of the presentation this morning.

Their challenge was to develop a personalised curriculum that covers AC, enables progression … but also leads to engagement in rich learning experiences that result in deep learning (21c skills)

What they did was adopt a creative curriculum development process. This begins with student voice, learning from students and use these as ‘hooks’ to develop rigorous curriculum that taps into their interests and passions, balancing rigour and enjoyment. (eg Teaching ratios using Minecraft)

The process was ten steps: (see pic)

Maybe I’m a bit weary, but I had some reservations. I liked the idea of responding to students, but how meaningful? Don’t students have a lot of different interests? I wouldn’t want to have to do a unit on The Bachelorette! And, how does AC match? Wouldn’t there be vast gaps and overlaps? They did address this later.

I liked that they emphasised the ‘soft skills’ of the AC, ‘the hard currency of their future’, showing an approach that is term by term, with students being explicitly taught these skills, which they apply later.

They argued that the themes had to be context free, history is often contextual, and these outcomes are separated out.

Living and teaching in an era of big data

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If there was one recurring thread (I typed ‘threat’ subliminally just then and it didn’t auto-correct!) at the first day of the K-12 National Curriculum Conference today, it might have been the idea of data, analytics and ‘using evidence’ to inform teaching and learning.

‘There are two things we all agree with’, said Professor Brian Caldwell, it’s the idea of an Australian curriculum, and the idea of national testing, of some kind.

Systems: universal, national, local, like the idea of data. ‘We’re not just wasting our money here. Look. You’re not doing it right…’ Data to drive improvement, data to drive reform, data to drive teachers out of the profession. ‘PISA has become an article of faith for policy makers …’ someone said. There was lots of talk of data analysis, of acronyms like PISA, NAPLAN, ACER, VCAA, ISQ, GKR, PAT, EBO, PATT … and on it went.

Everyone wants a dashboard, and they want it now. Not as much talk about how we might deal with all that data once we have it, or how that might drive … well, even more data.

There were some refreshing asides, talk about creativity, problem-solving, the value of learning for its own sake and not as an atom in a productivity machine, but data. Everywhere data.

Most of the presentations are on Slideshare HERE

[Vette Dashboard by Wayne Silver, on Flickr – https://flic.kr/p/8rhcNg ]

Talking about persuasive writing

 

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And, to give perfectly equal limelight, I should mention too that I’m also presenting on persuasive writing techniques for English teachers at a couple of Nelson Secondary sessions. Persuasive writing is pretty important in the Victorian Certificate of Education English course and, of course, is now included in NAPLAN (national testing). So that’s been keeping me busy too.

If you’re in Melbourne and you want to come along, details are here.

NAPLAN knows…

I started off all indignant when I ripped Miranda Devine’s latest piece of folksy wisdom out of the Herald-Sun on Thursday but in the end you just have to laugh at the dross that comes out of the conservative media’s best and brightest day after day as if someone is paying them to do it!

Devine’s latest take on the NAPLAN tests is as fine a piece of persuasive writing as you’ll find, resonating with power. Here’s a bit from the opening:

It is accountability time.

After failing the 20 per cent of children who leave school functionally illiterate, we finally see the truth.

Which students have sat through two years of boring lessons without learning to read and write? NAPLAN knows.

Which teachers are adding little value year on year to the students in their classroom? NAPLAN knows.

Which schools are failing to improve their students’ test results? NAPLAN knows.

NAPLAN knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Just like the shadow did! How do they think of this stuff. Has Devine been channeling 1930s pulp fiction? You be the judge!

 

NAPLAN’d Out

It’s been a big week, chock-full of NAPLAN testing, among other things. Three mornings of more paper-shuffling than you can poke a 2B pencil at.

And is it worth the effort? Mine, my team or the students? I doubt it. I’ve blogged about NAPLAN before: about teaching to the test, the new lows of league tables, and the fact that other places like England  have begun to reject the national testing agendas we’ve turned into an industry.

And, there’s plenty of arguments against going down the NY schools pathway that Julia Guillard has latched on to with such enthusiasm.  This SMH article described how testing has actually failed NY schools, or this City Journal article, Can NY clean up the testing mess? that describes Campbell’s law:

“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

Or, as this National Times article put it:

The big question is why Australia would want to emulate a country like the US where academic performance standards are, on average, much lower and where educational opportunity for many children depends on the luck of a lottery draw.

Even Kevin Donnelly has changed his mind about this stuff, as he writes here in The Drum: and says, among other things:

• Testing has failed to raise standards in England or New York and is now seen as counter-productive. Diane Ravitch’s most recent book, The death and life of the great American school system, details the flaws with NY’s model of standardised testing and high-risk accountability.

According to the US national test (NAEP), NY’s results have flatlined. In the UK, notwithstanding national tests and league tables, standards have also failed to improve and the Rose Report, evaluating primary school curriculum in the UK, argues against an over-emphasis on one-off basic skills tests.

• The curriculum has been narrowed and the focus is on basic skills instead of higher order thinking. Subjects like music, art, physical education and history fall by the wayside as teachers and schools focus on drilling for literacy and numeracy tests.

• Schools and teachers are adopting suspicious ways to get better results – poor students are excluded from tests, weak students are told to stay at home, teachers cheat by helping students in the classroom.

• US and Australian test experts agree that standardised tests like NAPLAN are unreliable, invalid and cannot be trusted (it’s lies, damn lies and statistics).

I’ll leave the last word to some of the kids who sat the test this week. Yes, I know that re-tweeting is easy, but so is pretending you’re actually doing something about learning by giving every student who happens to be the same age in Australia exactly the same test.

Meanwhile, on another island…

Not sure what it is with my latest habit of titling my posts with old references to film and TV (the title here is from my old fave ‘Gilligan’s Island”) but it just seemed to fit.

Just as we are sitting the students down to NAPLAN testing, news from the old dart is that those tests are being boycotted for the very same reasons many teachers have reservations about NAPLAN here.

The BBC report said:

Many head teachers say that the tests damage children’s education because they encourage teachers to “teach to the test”, so that other subjects are squeezed out of the curriculum.

And the league tables, they say, humiliate schools and do not show what they and their pupils really achieve.

The industrial action is being taken by the National Association of Head Teachers and heads and deputies in the National Union of Teachers but members are free to stage the action or not.

Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the NAHT, said it was wrong that a whole school should be held to account by a set of tests taken by one year-group.

“Of course schools need to be held to account. But they need to be held to account for what every child is doing in the school and the breadth of the curriculum, not just narrowing it down to English and maths.”

and from the GUARDIAN:

In Camberley, nine primary and junior schools that are members of the Surrey Heath Confederation of Schools had pupils sit old papers.

In a letter to parents, they explained: “We have no objection to testing and assessing children, but firmly believe that this should be done at a time, in a place and in a manner that is right for the children and that testing should underpin teacher judgment, not override it. Our objection relates to the way the government uses the test data, much of which is flawed by inconsistent marking.”

David Harris, the headteacher of one of the schools, Ravenscote junior school, said: “Obviously the children and staff have prepared all year for the Sats and what we wanted to do was provide a solution. Our problem is not with the testing, the issue we have is how the results are used.

“The schools in our confederation are doing an amazing job with the children they’ve got. But they have children with different needs and from different social backgrounds, and Sats don’t appreciate those things.”

Secondary schools could get a better picture of the performance and needs of individual pupils in next year’s intake by talking to teachers and hearing their personal assessments than through Sats results, Harris added.

Meanwhile, on this island…