Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Shit from Donnelly as usual

'Government schools, in particular, suffer because they lack the flexibility and freedom to select and manage staff, to implement a curriculum that best suits their students’ expectations and abilities and to innovate and implement best practice pedagogy.

It should not surprise that Catholic and independent schools achieve stronger results compared to government schools, even after adjusting for students’ home background, as they have greater autonomy and the freedom to compete.

A definition of madness is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In many ways Australia’s education system epitomises such an approach, as the politicians, policy makers and educational bureaucrats in control keep repeating the same mistakes.

As to whether the report investigating the most effective way to spend the additional Gonski 2.0 billions signifies a radically different or new approach we will soon know – but based on past practice don’t hold your breath.'

This arsehole was given oxygen again by The Age. This is part of his horseshit, I couldn't be bothered to copy and paste it all.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

DeVos lied...

A new report from Betsy Devos' own Department of Education exposes destructive racism in American schools.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos openly supports policy decisions that treat disciplinary bias against black students as if it were a myth. She’s even gone so far as to say protections for minority students have made schools more violent.

But a recently released report proves the racial bias is extremely real, in the midst of DeVos’ attempted whitewashing. Perhaps ironically, the department DeVos heads is the source of the report.

Looking at data from the 2015-2016 school year, the Department of Education found that while black students are 15 percent of the total population in American public schools, they make up 31 percent of the students who are arrested or referred to law enforcement.

By comparison, white students are 49 percent of the student population and are 36 percent of those arrested or referred to authorities.

The report also found disciplinary actions were more likely to take aim at black students.

The data comes out as DeVos has been pushing to rescind guidance from the Obama administration that sought to prevent black students from being punished more severely than their white counterparts. DeVos’ team has even taken to using the tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas High as cover, going so far as to blame the Obama-era protections for making schools less safe.

Todd A. Cox, director of policy for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told The Hill the Trump team was “using that horrible tragedy to attack the guidance.”

In a hearing last month, Devos’ indifference to racism in schools was slammed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who had asked DeVos in June 2017 to address how school segregation might adversely affect minority students.

But instead of answering the congresswoman, DeVos’ office went silent. In the hearing, DeVos appeared to suggest she would answer when Democrats in Congress rubber-stamped more of Trump’s nominees.

Lee responded to DeVos’ attempt at evading responsibility, saying, “Madame Secretary, you just don’t care much civil rights of black and brown children.”

DeVos has already succeeded in rolling back rules put in place by the Obama administration that enshrined protections for victims of sexual assault. Going after racial protections now is in line with the Trump team’s disregard for racial and gender equality.

The initiative to roll back the Obama rule proves Lee’s accusation is accurate, and the evidence shows that harm is being done, and DeVos does not care at all.

HOORAY 151000 views

Monday, 23 April 2018

New schools

Melbourne's urban fringe will be showered in an election year cash splurge with the state government allocating more than $350 million to build 12 new schools.

The new schools announcement marks another chapter in Labor’s pitch to growth areas as the November election approaches.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the May budget would include $353.2 million to build nine primary schools and three high schools.

Finally they've allocated money for a primary school at Lucas after helping to pay for a Catholic school to be built there first!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Private school enrolments to flatline

The number of students attending private schools in Australia will flatline over the next decade, according to federal government projections, as more parents choose to keep their children in the public system.

Enrolments that were once growing at a rate of 20,000 a year will slow to as little as 3000 by the middle of the next decade, according to the projections, presenting a stark marketing challenge to the nation's private schools.

Public school enrolments will also slow from their current boom, but will still grow faster than they did in the Howard years and up to 2011, a period when private school growth outstripped that of their public counterparts.

Of the 367,000 additional full-time equivalent students projected to be in schools by 2027, it is expected 288,000 - or 78.5 per cent - will be in government schools. At present, 65.6 per cent of the country's children are in the public system, which will inch up to 66.8 per cent by 2027 if the department's projections are accurate.

Meanwhile, the Turnbull government has committed an extra $300 million for private school infrastructure over the next 10 years to "take account of student enrolment growth".

The funding has been criticised by teacher unions, who are calling for a similar fund for public schools, but the federal government says that is a responsibility of the states.

The projections show private school enrolments increasing from 1,324,360 in 2017 to about 1,333,000 this year, and climbing to 1,375,000 by 2021. From there until 2027, growth in enrolments is expected to slip to an average of 6000 a year, and as little as 3000 in year 2026.

In recent years that figure has been growing by about 20,000 students each year.

Conversely, public school enrolments are expected to leap by 150,000 in just three years, then slow to a growth of 15,000-20,000 a year by 2026-27. Until 2012, public schools were adding only about 10,000 students a year and, as recently as 2008, enrolments were actually declining.

The projections provided to Fairfax Media by the federal Education Department are national, but Australian Bureau of Statistics data show the trend towards public schooling is happening in NSW and Victoria, where the vast majority of Australian children are educated.

Last year, enrolments in NSW Catholic schools declined for the first time in 20 years. In Victoria, Catholic school enrolments rose by just 746 students, or less than half of 1 per cent.

Ray Collins, acting executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission, blamed demographic changes, financial pressures on families and government funding decisions for weak enrolments in the Catholic sector.

Some Catholic schools that wanted to expand their capacity were also hamstrung by state and local government planning rules, Mr Collins said.

"In NSW, for instance, state and local government requirements to contribute to infrastructure around new developments make it extremely difficult for Catholic schools to build new schools because of affordability," he said.

Colette Colman, executive director of the Independent Schools Council of Australia, said enrolment growth in the independent sector had been "strong in recent years". She said 90 per cent of infrastructure funding for independent schools came from parents and the community, not the government.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham defended the extra $300 million for private school capital works, saying the funding was indexed to the growth in building costs and enrolments.

"If enrolments flatline then federal funding only keeps up with building cost growth and there will be no enrolment-based growth in funding," he said.

Senator Birmingham said building public schools "has always been the primary responsibility of state governments" and Labor's global financial crisis-era school hall program "shows how much of a disaster federal intervention can be in this space".

Labor's federal education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said the enrolment projections highlighted the case for more public school funding.

"If [Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull thinks this is the case, why do his cuts hit public schools hardest?" she said.

The Education Department warned the projections were only estimates and could not account for future changes in education or immigration policy. Projections beyond five years were potentially less accurate, it cautioned.

That's about right....

ACT teachers and principals were asked to identify the main beneficiaries of #NAPLAN. In order, they listed: the media, the federal government & educational businesses. When asked who benefited the least they listed, in order, students, schools & families.

ATAR bad for STEM

Schools, universities and the ATAR system are driving students away from vital science, maths and technology subjects, according to chief scientist Alan Finkel, who has strongly defended the importance of STEM in a report to the country's education ministers.

Dr Finkel has urged a review of the university entrance system, the reintroduction of maths as a prerequisite for relevant university courses and the tracking of students' performance from cradle to grave using a controversial ID system.

"Teachers, parents and businesses agree: we need a better conversation about the purpose of the ATAR, with an emphasis not just on getting into university, but getting in prepared to do well."

The report found that "while there has been a slight decline in the number of year 12 students studying STEM subjects over the years, the more concerning trend is what appears to be a reduction in the level of difficulty of the subjects chosen by students". It noted participation in science subjects dropped to 51 per cent in 2013 from 55 per cent in 2002.

Dr Finkel argued students were receiving the "wrong signals" from universities, and consequently bad advice from their own schools. Another "unhelpful signal" was the erosion of maths as a prerequisite for many university courses, he said.

The report noted just five out of 37 universities required intermediate or advanced maths to get into a bachelor of science - while out of 34 institutions offering engineering degrees, only one required advanced maths and two did not require applicants to have studied maths at all.

Dr Finkel backed a "phased in" reintroduction of mathematics prerequisites for relevant courses on the basis that "mathematics is the language of science, and that mathematics skills need constant development and cannot be acquired effectively in a short bridging course".

The chief scientist also recommended introducing a national "unique student identifier" to track student outcomes in tests such as NAPLAN from birth to death. A similar tool is already used in schools in Victoria, the ACT and Western Australia.

The data would be de-identified for aggregation and analysis at a national level, but could also be used by students at an individual level. "Strict access and privacy controls" would need to be built in to the scheme, the report acknowledges, much like eHealth records.

Last month, NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes sparked fresh debate over STEMwhen he called it a "buzzword" and a fad driven by "intellectual snobbery". He accused politicians, journalists and business leaders of "piling in" to denounce the value of humanities, the arts and philosophy.

Dr Finkel's report repudiates that view without addressing those comments specifically. It says industry is concerned about graduates' capabilities in the areas of science and maths, and urges: "Student attitudes to STEM are established in primary school and this is when the work on engagement and excitement needs to begin."

The report did not recommend making mathematics or science compulsory all the way through to year 12, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously supported. Shortly before the last election he said it was a "big priority" that "maths or science should be a prerequisite school subject to have completed to go onto university".

Among the other recommendations of Dr Finkel's review are:

  • Clarifying the future needs of the STEM industries.
  • Setting minimum standards of continued professional development for STEM teachers.
  • Engaging more students in STEM by focusing on real world problems rather than careers.

The STEM Partnerships Forum, headed by Dr Finkel, was briefed with improving school-industry partnerships and conceded it took "a broad view of our mandate". Federal and state education ministers are expected to respond to the recommendations shortly.

From the Age

Friday, 20 April 2018

We think NAPLAN is bad

New York State began Common Core aligned high-stakes testing in grades 3 to 8 last week. State officials argued this round of testing would be less disruptive of education and less stress inducing for students because the English-Language Arts test was reduced from three days to two. Parents continue to dispute this. A survey conducted by Newsday found the overall opt-out rate for the test on Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties was over 50% and in some districts it exceeded 60%. Most Long Island school districts used the pencil and paper format for the test. Those whose students took the computer-based version were in for a surprise when students had difficulty logging on to the test or their connection, mid-test, was interrupted. Questar Assessment, the vendor that created and administers the test for the New York State Education Department attributed these problems to “technical issues.”

Because of parental protests, New York State shifted it testing contract to Questar Assessment from Pearson in 2015 because Pearson would not release test questions to teachers and the public for review.  Analysis of reading passages and questions released by Questar from the 2017 8th grade ELA exam reveal major problems in the design of the test and its value for assessing student learning and improving instruction.

A well-designed test starts with easier reading passages and questions to build up student confidence as they proceed through the test. Placing easier passages and questions first, and having a variety of different types of questions, helps educators establish the specifics children are having trouble understanding. But the Common Core aligned exam has reading passages that are almost all of similar length and difficulty and with the same types of questions. Not only is it designed so that large numbers of students fail, but it also gives educators no information about why they are failing. It is worthless as a learning assessment to inform instruction.

A potentially more significant problem with the Common Core/high-stakes testing regime dominating education in the United States is continued poor performance by students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) despite a focus on skill acquisition and test preparation. While eighth-grade reading scores show slight improvement over 2015 results, there has been no no improvement in grade 4 and 8 math or in grade 4 reading. In addition, according to recently released test result analysis, the United States’ poorest-performing students scored worse in both reading and math than they did in 2015. The average score only remained steady because of improved test results by higher-performing students. Pro-testing groups have celebrated the lower opt-out rates in minority communities, but these are the students left furthest behind by the high-stakes testing regime.

In New York State, on the latest NAEP fourth grade reading exam about one-third of children scored below basic reading level, another third at basic reading level, one-fourth at proficient reading level, and less than 10% at the advanced level. African American and Latino students on the average performed 25 points lower than White peers. Students from poorer families also scored significantly lower than students from more affluent families. While the scoring gaps have decreased since 1998, after 20 years they remain unacceptably high. In New York City, scores on the 4th grade math test have declined by seven points since 2013.

What the NAEP results demonstrate is that under the Common Core/high-stakes testing regime real education is sacrificed to prepare students, especially poorer and minority students, for specific tests. But when they are given different tests, the deficiencies with this type of miseducation and testing program are exposed.

There are no excuses for failure of the Common Core/high-stakes testing regime. High-stakes tests were mandated by federal government with the Bush era No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 and reinforced by the Obama Race to the Top federal grant initiative in 2009. The Common Core standards that shape curriculum and tests were introduced in 2009. Every child tested by the NAEP has known nothing but Common Core and Common Core aligned tests for their entire school career.