Friday, August 7, 2009

Why students are taking easy options in yr 12

Students are taking easy options in year 12. Schools are encouraging students not to take harder upper school subjects. Why?

Students have:

  • little resilience - failure is an end product rather than a path to success
  • do not experience exams in lower school and fear them
  • have little work ethic - would rather coast than strive for excellence
  • fear not making TEE score due to perceived issues with scaling and moderation
  • have not been driven to complete lower school curriculum in lower school heterogeneous classes and have to make large leaps in year 11/12 to succeed (ongoing problem)
  • have difficulty moving from developmental approach (going at own pace is ok) in lower school to graded syllabus approach (you're a C get used to it, we have to go at this pace to finish the course) in yr 11/12
  • Core subject areas (Maths, English, S&E, Science) have lost actual teaching time to "equal" learning areas T&E, Health & PE and the Arts.
  • VET courses are more readily available and provide an outlet after fatigue of 10 years education


  • Fear poor league table scores (and thus only attract weaker, behavioural issues students)
  • Small academic classes creates timetabling issues
  • Require more effort and experience by teachers to get students to pass a difficult subject
  • Can only "suggest" that students take harder subjects
  • "Good" students are being attracted to academic schools and G&T programs
  • WACE issues; have to reach 100% graduation rate (therefore coach students out of difficult classes if at risk of failing)
  • Specialist subjects are harder to staff (check the number of schools unable to run Lit, Economics and Maths Specialist or more than one class of each if they wanted to) - exacerbated by the half cohort
  • Schools now cater to 'all students' rather than focus on academic students
  • Correcting behavioural issues takes precedence to correcting academic issues (just check time allocated to both in any school) - schools can be seen as behaviour centres rather than learning centres.
  • Lack of rigor and programming in lower school programmes
  • No single point of responsibility within learning areas for performance with loss of level 3 HoD positions to behavioural/administrative roles
  • Have a large number of 'refugee' or 'parents with work permits' students with little primary schooling when entering high school
  • Students that traditionally left school in year 10 and now staying until year 12
  • Students that may have found work in better years are finding it harder to do so in today's economic climate

This is a rather cynical comment and to be honest, this year we have the largest equivalent G&T, Calc course than we've had for a number of years (it raised some concern that we had been too lenient when coaching for subject selection) and next year's cohort for 3A MAS/MAT is an order of magnitude larger again. The issues listed are not true in all schools and when identified schools do look closely at them. I think many of them have occurred all at once due to the simultaneous introduction of the NCOS.

It's not rocket science. Just talk to a few teachers, they'll give you the remaining reasons.

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