Thursday, December 16, 2010

Site statistics

7800 page hits and 5500 unique visitors this year from around the world: Turkey to Bolivia, Canada to Indonesia, UK and Spain; hello to you all.

The most popular topics searched were the CAS calculator pages, Hattie's meta analysis, as well as local topics national curriculum and NAPLAN.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

National Curriculum in High School

The implementation of national curriculum in WA is fast becoming a farce. It lacks coherent leadership and information is not reaching teachers in a timely manner.

I'm not sure who we are supposed to be listening to or what the correct pathway is for our kids.

Some of the emerging issues.

  • WA & Queensland have year 7 in primary making it difficult to implement subject specialisation (such as requirements for science labs in science and adequately trained mathematics teachers for geometry and algebra courses)
  • The deadline for substantial implementation is two phased with all states other than WA set for 2013 and WA for 2014.
  • A definition for substantial implementation is required. It is not clear whether substantial implementation means k-10 will be implemented by the deadline (eg, for high school: staged over four years - yr 7 2011, year 7,8 2012, yr 7,8,9 2013 and 7,8,9,10 2014) or that schools will have programmes ready to start implementation by the deadline set (do we just sit in secondary schools and hope that primary feeders have it all sorted out so that we can start in 2014??).
  • Detailed curriculum documents and sample assessments have not been released, with state agreement for the curriculum dot points only happening last week.
  • Agreement on how to handle deficiencies across primary and secondary school boundaries have not been finalised. As found in the WA implementation of OBE this is indeed a real issue with grading standards vastly different across each segment (remember level 3 mathematics anyone??)
  • Urgency within the secondary segment has not occurred and a watch, wait and see mentality exists - and rightly so given the amount of change thus far.
  • Preparation for NAPLAN (being a key metric for school performance) is causing issues disrupting year 9 curriculum with half to all of term 1 being dedicated to NAPLAN preparation.
  • NAPLAN itself becomes an issue for WA as NAPLAN will be attached to National curriculum objectives and as WA will lag in national curriculum implementation we would expect WA to lag in NAPLAN results also (for a considerable time as other states will continue to improve in their understanding of national curriculum objectives whilst WA grapples with implementation and the required modifications in primary and lower secondary).
  • With declining NAPLAN scores, this has the potential to further exacerbate the decline of student enrollment in state schools as parents view poor results as further reason to enter private schools where students are already on national curriculum, having access to specialist teachers and materials in year 7.
  • It is unknown how to grade students. C Grade standards have the potential to relegate low SES schools to D & E's for all students and provide ongoing failure for our students. This is not fair nor equitable. It is also unknown what an A student looks like. Direction here is required and it is a real pitfall for early adopters.
  • Independent public schools are also affecting staffing equations in low SES areas as teachers are being poached to IPS schools and EIP's are being parachuted into these positions. This movement of experience restricts schools ability to respond to national curriculum objectives.
  • As public schools shrink in size their ability to manage content, subject and student knowledge becomes much more difficult with the loss of redundancy (more than one teacher able to teach a topic) and subject selection (fewer subjects are offered or schools are forced to distance education or busing solutions). The size of a school places the burden of implementation on a relative few (as it did during NCOS implementation) at a time where schools are feeling staffing stress both in administration and teaching roles.
It is not a good equation. At least with the OBE farce behind us, we should be better equipped to handle this one.

Click here for previous posts on national curriculum.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Increase in WACOT fees

WACOT fees have been increased by $6 to pay for increased costs of disciplinary actions and registration costs of teachers to $76 per year. This means that 3.5 million dollars is required to run WACOT or ~46 FTE at $76000 per year. Net gain to those paying the fee - really... nil.

According to Brian Lindberg (chairman of the board at WACOT) in a recent email to all teachers:

"The increase in the Annual Fee should be seen in the context of the development of the College. Bi-partisan political support was given to a discussion paper on teacher registration in 1999. "

Can you believe it is 2010 and they are still needing to justify their existence?

"Based on the 348 submissions, a Position Paper was published in 2000. It indicated that there was wide support for a non-industrial body for teachers providing that its activities would be wider than just the regulation of the teaching profession."

Not within the teaching fraternity - and given the lack of teacher involvement during formative years and questionable independence of the body it is no wonder.

"In responding to the Discussion Paper teachers indicated a preference for a body that was independent of employers and the Minister of the day, and that had a majority of elected teachers on the Board of Management."

Another reminder about how long our ineffective body delayed this happening and that our body is not independent!!

"The Board kept faith with all the recommendations and desires of teachers despite having concerns that it would be difficult to carry out all ten functions of the College without Government financial support or much higher annual fees. "

Grin - yes, we wanted value for money because we could see that this was just a way to make us pay for something we already had. Sheeting the blame back to teachers because we were right is hardly fair although predictable. I imagine only one of the 10 functions serves a purpose and that is to keep questionable members out of the profession. That is a regulatory action and should come out of tax dollars (as it is primarily an action in the interest of the public) not through a reduction in pay. Why should employees pay to police the misdeeds of a few?

"Accordingly, the Board will concentrate the functions of the College on registration and discipline only until all 46,000 re-registrations are completed." Why does it cost $76 per year for a police check to be done and a register to be maintained of teachers that have had disciplinary action?

I'm a little confused how reducing the role of WACOT to registrations and discipline will cause a $6 increase and wonder what the cast of thousands in Ascot that were doing the other 8 functions are now doing. Given that much is done electronically and most registrations should require nothing to be done by WACOT - only inefficiency can be to blame.

Most annoying things that WACOT have or have not done (regardless of who is to blame):
  • Waste money on glossy brochures (now stopped)
  • Re-registration requiring full 100 pt check again
  • Pointless accredititation process lacking any credibility
  • Organise discounts for things I don't need
  • Lack of real independance or voice on teaching matters
  • Involvement with conferences for beginning teachers (leave this to private enterprise until truly independent to prevent political interference)
Most useful thing done by WACOT
  • Prevention of accreditation of short teaching courses in WA
If a review was done, I would love to know how many people are needed at WACOT throughout the whole year (rather than just between October and February when most registrations are required to be done).

My guess is that not many are required to produce not much.