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.

1 comment:

  1. Im not going to say what everyone else has already said, but I do want to comment on your knowledge of the topic. Youre truly well-informed.


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