League tables – Why follow America???

I read an interesting article today on Australia’s push towards league tables for schools.

It seems a little odd to me that Australian politicians want to follow America’s lead in the push towards league tables and increased mandatory testing to try and improve educational outcomes for students. The fact that America is one of the poorest performing countries in a recent OECD study involving 26 countries should ring alarm bells. It would seem logical to me to try and analyse the countries performing better than Australia (we actually perform quite well overall) to look at what they do. Finland who have topped the OECD comparisons in most areas over the last 6 years have one of the least prescriptive curriculums, minimal testing and some of the best trained teachers in the world.

Leading countries have a strong focus on the quality of their teachers and the McKinsey report provides lots of information on what has been happening around the world to improve educational outcomes. The findings overall are quite simply put. Quality school systems have the following thins in common.
1. Getting the right people to become teachers
2. Developing them into effective instructors
3. Ensuring the system is able to deliver the best possible instruction for every child

The report is broken into a number of sections whose headings really say it all.

“The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers”.

“The only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction”.

“High performance requires every child to succeed”.



PLC assessment strategies in the news

PLC has been in the news recently about an assessment task it set where students were able to use the internet and mobile phones to access information to assist them in completing the task.

This post from Chris Betcher who teaches at the school is a great response to some misconceptions about the task. It has raised some important issues to the mainstream and hopefully these will be explored some more into the future.

I think it is great they have put this out there and have been willing to open their assessment methods up to the world. Ahead of their time perhaps, or just trying to get to where we should be???

Quality assessment tasks

I was fortunate enough to be provided with a first class example of what can be done by colleagues at my school. A year 11 IST class organised a trivia night as an assessment task and raised money for the Childrens Hospital at Westmead. It was a hugely successful event with the students raising well over $8000. The aspect of the task that was so impressive for me was that it was such a relevant and practical task for students and it had ‘real world’ meaning. The students must feel very proud that they organised an event that raised such a substantial amount and it was such a practical way to demonstrate the skills and outcomes required by the course.

The task for me is an excellent example of the ‘assessment for learning’ model. The task also provided huge scope for learning above and beyond the outcomes for the task. The fact that it involved the wider school community and thus generated school spirit were wonderful aspects of the task. The focus on fundraising and raising money for the children’s hospital also strongly supports the catholic values of compassion and is a great way for students to experience this core value.
trivia night