Sunday, August 24, 2008

Curriculum development in WA Mathematics

You'd be human if you felt confused by the number of documents that guide WA education. Some are used more often than others. These are the ones I refer to most often.

NCOS Yr 11 & 12 Courses - outlines mathematics material to be taught in Yr 11 & 12 for cohort starting in 2009 (1ABCD, 2ABCD, 3ABCD MAT). Many materials for these courses are still in development including texts and sample exam papers. At this stage generally seen as an improvement on the old courses. Specialist maths course information (3ABCD MAS) can be found here. It is unclear how the implementation of the NCOS will affect university entrance.

K-10 Scope and sequence documents - outlines materials to be taught in each year group for each subject. Not mandated by government, can be varied depending on the developmental level of students. The most recent and useful by far are the ones labelled "scope and sequence".

Progress Maps - Used as the major curriculum guide prior to the K-10 Scope and sequence documents being available. Outlines the various assessment bands. If your student is "level 5, Number" this is what describes what level 5 number contains. Its use is mandated by government and is currently the subject of much debate over its effectiveness as an assessment tool. Also known as Outcomes and Standards Framework.

Curriculum framework overarching statement - outlines the framework for teaching. This forms the basis of any response to what teaching is done, how it is done and the aims of WA education. Its use is mandated by government.

Smartie chart - Most controvertial element of school assessment in WA. As part of Commonwealth government funding A-E grading was introduced in WA. The conversion chart or "smartie chart" shows how levels are converted to grades. Has proven difficult to use in producing meaningful grades especially in "leafy green" and "low socioeconomic" schools where the geographical differentiation skews results to either end of the A-E spectrum resulting in classes of A's or E's if applied as designed. Used as a replacement for normalised A-E grades within a class.

Expected standards - outlines what a student needs to be doing to get a C grade for each year group. Controversial as it lifts the bar a long way. Replaced the "smartie chart" in 2010 when using levels for reporting was deemed ineffective.

National Curriculum - The new standard that WA is grinding towards.

Updated: 10/12/11

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