Sunday, April 24, 2016
EDUCATION ROUNDUP FROM AUSTRALIA
Three current articles below
Teach for (some of) Australia
The credentialism idiocy is keeping able people out of teaching. Requiring a 4 year teaching degree before you can teach is chrome-plated imbecility. It's not long since a one-year diploma was deemed adequate. And I successfully taught in Australian High Schools for two years without one second of teacher training. My students got excellent exam results too
Over the past few months, attention has been drawn to low entry standards for teacher education courses in Australian universities. NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has been one of the strongest voices advocating for higher entry standards for teaching degrees. In NSW, new teachers can be registered only if they have achieved results of at least a Band 5 (there are 6 achievement bands) in at least three subjects -- including English -- in the Higher School Certificate, or an equivalent qualification.
Given Minister Piccoli's evident understanding of the importance of encouraging highly capable people to become school teachers, it is curious that some of the brightest and talented new teachers in Australia are not allowed to teach in NSW schools.
The Teach for Australia (TFA) program has been recruiting high achieving people to teach in disadvantaged and hard to staff secondary schools since 2010. The average ATAR of TFA 'associates' is a very high 95. Only 6% of applicants enter the classroom. In contrast to the trend throughout the rest of the teacher education sector, 47% of TFA associates were qualified as science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) teachers.
One of the criticisms of TFA's approach is that TFA associates start teaching before they have completed post-graduate teacher education. Instead, they complete an intensive six-week course and then continue their studies while teaching part-time. Bear in mind that the associates already have at least an undergraduate degree in their subject area (almost half had advanced degrees in 2016) as well as professional work experience.
Unfortunately, like the rest of the teacher education sector, there is little objective data showing the educational impact of TFA associates on student performance. A report from TFA states that 90% said that TFA associates had a greater impact on student achievement than other graduate teachers after two years of classroom teaching. Survey data is not ideal, but there is evidence from TFA's sister programs -- Teach for America and Teach First (UK) -- that teachers recruited and trained by this method are at least as good if not better than traditionally-trained teachers.
TFA associates currently teach in Victoria, the ACT, Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is time for the other states to get on board. They have little to lose and everything to gain.
Does Australia have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD?
The Left-leaning article below answers 'No' to that question but still searches for something to whine about. They are up against it however -- as they concede that "Australia’s level of equity was not particularly different to that of many other OECD countries. New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany".
What they look at is how big is the achievement gap between well-off and poor kids. And in the Australian case they admit that the gap is not due to lack of "resources" (mostly meaning money spent per pupil). So insofar as the gap is largeish in Australia, it is probably due to Australia's huge network of government-subsidized private schools. 40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools. And there is no doubt that such schools do have some beneficial effect on exam performance and other indications of educational achievement. Well-off kids get better schooling in Australia
Is that unjust? Maybe it is but it is not beyond remedy. Australian government schools for many years modelled their curricula and procedures on famous British private schools such as Eton. I was one product of that system (including compulsory Latin!) and the excellent education I got from it has definitely helped make my life easier and richer. I shudder at the impoverished and propaganda-laden curricula of today.
With their constant imposition of unproven and unsuccessful educational theories, the Left have destroyed the old system. But it shows what is possible. Government schools CAN provide a high quality education. All you have to do is to go by what works
As the debate around public and private schooling in Australia rages on, writer and social commentator Jane Caro told the Q&A audience that Australia has one of the most unequal education systems in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Is that right? When asked for sources to support her assertion, Caro referred The Conversation to a 2015 report published by the Australian Council of Educational Research.
The report analysed results from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and noted: "the general relationship between the overall level of schools’ educational resources and the resources gap between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged schools. Where resources are high, the gap tends to be low, and where resources are low, the gap tends to be high"
The OECD analysis also showed that, contrary to the general pattern, Australia has a high level of resources as well as a high level of inequity in the allocation of those resources. Australia’s overall level of schools’ educational resources is above the OECD average, yet it is ranked fifth among 36 participating countries in resource disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.
Caro also sent The Conversation an article published by the Save Our Schools organisation titled OECD Report Highlights Education Inequity in Australia, and the PISA 2009 results report published by the OECD.
What the data shows is that Australia is not the worst or nearly the worst when it comes to equality and our education system.
However, it is true there is a great deal of evidence that Australia’s education system is very unequal. The level of equity is not getting better and if anything, it is getting worse.
What do we mean by ‘unequal’? The best tool for understanding how equal or unequal the Australian education system is compared to other OECD education systems is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
Equity in PISA refers to how well students do on cognitive tests according to their socioeconomic background (SES).
Socioeconomic background is measured in PISA by taking into account parental occupation and education, access to home educational and cultural resources, family wealth, and books in the home.
According to PISA’s measure, “unequal” means there are large differences in the outcomes of high SES and low SES students. In other words, it’s when kids from wealthy or well-off households consistently get better test results than kids from poorer families.
In the 2000 PISA report, Australia’s performance in PISA reading literacy was indeed referred to as “high quality – low equity”. In other words, Australia’s achievement was higher than the OECD average but in terms of equity, Australia was below the OECD average.
In reading, in particular, Australia continues to fall into the category of high-quality - low or average equity.
In mathematics and science – subjects that less likely to rely on parental involvement and resources than reading literacy – this is not the case. In these subjects, Australia falls into the high-quality - high-equity quadrant.
‘Among the worst’? While Australia’s performance in PISA reading literacy has been classed as low equity, Australia’s level of equity was not particularly different to that of many other OECD countries. New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany (among others) were also classed as low equity when it came to reading literacy.
Saying we are “among the worst” may stretching it a bit – but this is splitting hairs. The data supports the overall point that Caro was making: Australia does have a schooling system that is not equitable.
Based on data from PISA:
There is a gap of about 2.5 years of schooling in mathematical literacy between students in the highest SES quartile and those in the lowest quartile.
Low achievement is strongly associated with low SES. In both mathematics and reading literacy, low SES students comprised about 45% of all low performing students while students from the second lowest quartile accounted for a further 29%. Just 10% of students of low performers were from the highest SES quartile.
Australia shows a high level of variation in reading literacy performance due to SES differences between schools
A recent re-analysis of the PISA 2012 data found that a socioeconomically disadvantaged student in Australia was six times more likely to be a low performer than an advantaged student. After taking account of several other factors influencing school performance such as gender, immigrant and language background, family structure, urban or rural location, pre-primary education and grade repetition, a socioeconomically disadvantaged student is still five times more likely to be a low performer than an advantaged student.
While all Australian schools report adequate educational resources, schools with a large proportion of low performing students report much lower levels of these resources than schools with a large proportion of high performing students.
Between 2000 and 2009, Australian secondary schools became more differentiated in reading achievement. That differentiation became more strongly linked to the average socioeconomic context of the school.
Verdict: Australia doesn’t have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD. However, there is good evidence that our schooling system is not equitable.
Australia: Happy student campers told to queer their ideas
Government schools have promoted a gay school holiday camp that teaches young teenagers to "queer their ideas". The Camp Out organisation is hosting the camp in Sydney this week for 13 to 17-year-olds who are gay, straight, intersex or simply "curious and questioning" their sexuality.
Camp Out — which describes itself as a "collective guided by queer politics" — sent registration packs to schools across NSW. It encourages children to "reach out to queer communities". "Helping campers to queer their ideas about the future is a key goal," Camp Out says on its website.
"For us, one of Camp Out’s central missions is helping campers to imagine what their futures might look like outside of compulsory heterosexuality — to introduce them to ideas and people that better fit their own conceptions of their sexualities and gender identities.
"Camp Out aims to skill LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) in reaching out to queer communities, drawing support from those communities, and also in forming their own communities."
Marking its five-year anniversary on Facebook last month, Camp Out stated: "On this important day in our activist history, help us continue to build generations of queers who are proud, resilient, creative and fabulous!"
Camp activities yesterday included "queer sex ed, feminism and dancing workshops".
The Wollongong High School of Performing Arts, on the NSW south coast, promoted the five-day camp in a "roll call notice" for teachers to read to their classes last month.
The nearby Warrawong High School advertised the camp on a poster, and Camp Out’s Facebook page shows a photo of a registration pack arriving at Chatham High School in Taree, on the NSW north coast.
The camp is staffed by volunteers older than 21 who have "working with children" checks.
"We use the term ‘camp crew’ intentionally to emphasise that we are not trying to take the place of a counsellor in any way," the Camp Out website states.
"While the health and safety of our campers — physical, mental and emotional — are our utmost responsibility, we do not profess to be counsellors or crisis support."
The camp is drug and alcohol- free and has an "ask to touch” policy which "means that any kind of sexual or non-consensual touch is not allowed at camp".
"A huge and very valid concern for parents is for the safety of their child attending Camp Out," its website says.
The independent Camp Out group is backed by Twenty10, a NSW and federal government funded counselling service for LGBTI children, teenagers and adults in NSW.
News of the "queer camp" follows an uproar over The Australian’s revelation yesterday that Victoria’s new family violence curriculum asks Year 8 students to study sexualised personal ads and write their own ads seeking the "perfect partner".
One of the ads, to be analysed by students as young as 12, includes a "lustful, sexually generous" person "seeking sexy freak out".
Victoria’s opposition spokesman on education, Nick Wakeling, yesterday said parents had a "right to be concerned".
He said Premier Daniel Andrews "must stop treating our schools as his opportunity to impose his social agenda" on children.
"Parents should never have to learn about what their 12-year-old child is being taught on the front page of the newspaper," he said.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said he understood parents’ concerns but they could not "stick their head in the sand".
"I understand those concerns and I know they are challenging issues," he said. "But we can’t as a society stick our heads in the sand and think our kids aren’t exposed to these issues.
"We trust the professional judgment of our teachers to choose the resources that are appropriate for their students."
Posted by jonjayray at 12:58 AM