Saturday, July 26, 2008

Setting goalposts for students

Once upon a time, in a land underneath our feet, students went to school. At the end of year 10 they reached a certain standard and were given a certificate. Some left for apprenticeships others went straight into the workforce and others stayed in school seeking their yr12 certificate or university entry. Class grades were generated on class norms and students that did not meet generally accepted standards repeated the year or left school. There was pressure and release for low and high performing students. Teachers focused on doing the greatest good for the greatest number of students.

Students today are carried to year 12 by their teachers and generally no longer repeat if unable to complete content. Schools are encouraged, at all costs, to get students to yr 12 and get their graduation certificate. Graduation rates and average TEE results are released in newspapers for individual schools. Statewide grades are given without taking into account socioeconomic factors. Students are now facing the inability to chose their subjects with their cohort and be prohibited occupations due to their geographical location. Students not able to achieve good TEE results are discouraged from sitting their TEE to preserve school scores and maximise scaling for 'good' students. Today, we have a focus on benchmarks, minimal performance levels and the performance of the top 10% of students. We are now much more focused on the social justice needs of outliers in our education system.

Which is the better system and which satisfies the needs of our society at this time?

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