It has come to the attention of the authorities that school is placing some youngsters under so much pressure that it might be safer to abolish it entirely and replace it with a network of self-esteem centres where the kiddies are told that they’re all doing a great job with everything and should be really proud of themselves.
This would be the logical end result of the research released this week which found that the NAPLAN tests for grades three, five, seven and nine were placing so much pressure on students that some of them are crying, getting tummy aches and even vomiting ahead of these apparently onerous exams. About 90 per cent of the teachers who responded said that stress was an issue.
I am not setting out to rubbish the research, conducted by the University of Melbourne at the behest of the Whitlam Institute, but to question whether the intention of the teachers who filled in the survey was coloured more by an industrial agenda than a focus on learning for kids and transparency for parents.
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It seems the latest round of pay negotiations for teachers in Victoria has reached an impasse, with the Victorian Government entrenched in its view that performance pay should be introduced as part of the package, with the teacher’s union doggedly opposed to this.
Apparently, the Australian Education Union feels teachers operate in a uniquely collegiate environment, and any moves to introduce individual performance-based incentives would wreck the staffroom vibe. As union branch president Mary Bluett said, “‘You get the best outcome when you’ve got teachers working together and sharing best practice. Performance pay would undermine that and students would be the losers.’‘
Too right. I mean, can you imagine if performance-based pay was introduced into any other professional environment that relies heavily on collaboration? Like …lawyers or surgeons or accountants or….oh, hang on.
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Parents and kids have nothing to fear from NAPLAN. In fact, we’ve got everything to gain from finding out how are kids are faring at school.
Teachers and schools doing their job well should also welcome NAPLAN, which is the national literacy and numeracy test given to kids in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. So why are so many educators trying to scare parents into thinking that standardised testing is a bad thing?
It makes me think some schools don’t welcome the accountability offered by the most rigorous national testing regime we’ve seen in decades As a parent, I want to know how my kids are shaping up against other kids in their class, in their school, and across the country. I also want to know their teachers are doing a good job, and I think NAPLAN helps us keep track of this.
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It’s shocking. Children are supposed to be lovingly guided through their education with kid gloves, never facing the prospect of getting anything less than a B+ and a gold star, thereby preparing them for a life of constant angst and confusion upon their entry to “the real world”.
Instead, we’re told, some of them are reporting symptoms of stress and anxiety before sitting their NAPLAN tests. To stave off this epidemic of totally normal behaviour, teachers are reportedly “teaching to the test”, spending extra time teaching what will be tested in the exam, and even making them sit dummy runs in the lead-up.
This means children are being made to learn things such as maths and reading and writing. Won’t someone think of the children!
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NAPLAN testing is scheduled this week (from May 15 to 17) in schools around the country. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (ACARA), as well as proponents of NAPLAN, make three central claims extolling the usefulness of this high-stakes test.
First, they claim NAPLAN will tell us that the tests are important to assess the quality of teaching in our children’s schools. Second, they will assure us that the tests can diagnose academic issues our children may be struggling with. Third, they will confirm that the purpose of NAPLAN is to maintain Australia’s high levels of literacy and numeracy in comparison to other countries in the world.
ACARA and the proponents of NAPLAN (including our education ministers) will not tell you that there almost a complete lack of evidence to support those three claims.
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It is exciting to contemplate the future of schooling in Australia because in so doing we are reflecting on both the future of our children and our nation.
Right now, there are opportunities for us as educators, as we contemplate the future of schooling together. If we can embrace positively this demand for transparency and accountability, we can restore a sense of honour to our profession that should have always existed.
In part this will mean coming to grips with the enduring presence of transparency and accountability mechanisms such as NAPLAN diagnostic tests and MySchool websites.
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President Obama’s attack on high-stakes, standardised tests, like Australia’s National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), proves once again that Australian policy makers and educrats are championing failed educational experiments at the very time they are being ditched overseas.
It’s no secret that Australia’s national literacy and numeracy tests at years 3, 5, 7 and 9, and the policy of making individual school results public on the My School website, are copied from the US and, to a lesser extent, England.
Such is Julia Gillard’s infatuation with the US model of testing and accountability that she invited the New York Education Chancellor, Joel Klein, to Australia and justified NAPLAN and My School on the success of the New York model.
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Where to send your child to school? With my two young sons approaching primary age and a multitude of themed kids’ birthday parties to attend in the lead up, this is the most common topic of conversation amongst all the parents.
Some parents are anxious about it, others take it more in their stride but they’re all talking about it.
At first I wasn’t too interested, in fact, I avoided the conversations. I thought them unnecessary. Yes I want a good school for my kids but it’s not the end of the world if it’s not perfect first time. Growing up I spent many years travelling the globe with my parents, and as such, I attended a vast array of primary and secondary schools. I can honestly say that at no point in my life have I felt that the regular changing of schools impacted adversely on my education. It was exciting, varied and helped to broaden my interests.
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