Monday, January 31, 2011

National Curriculum confusion reigns

National curriculum continues to be a source of confusion for teachers. New words such as engage (have a look at it), implementation (sort of run a class with it) and significant implementation (meaning whatever you want it to but it needs to be done by 2014 in WA and 2013 everywhere else). Never mind that curriculum description dot points are vague even to DoE experts.

If you manage to implement something by getting past inhibitors in your school you then have to decide how to grade what you have done. Proper grade descriptors are non-existent, vague C grade descriptors give little idea what an A or a B is. Administration are scared witless that any implementation will impact negatively on NAPLAN scores, especially where they have been good in the past.

Overcoming the urge to use classroom distributions as solutions for behaviour management problems threatens academic programmes. Small class cohorts gives fewer opportunities to distribute difficult students between classes. Teachers need to closely examine classlists to ensure that troublesome or low ability students are found classes to which they can perform. Finally we have some acceptance that heterogenous classes with wide distributions are not optimal teaching or learning environments.

I read the dreaded innovative solutions mantra for the first time this year in a department missive. Give me a solution or identify an opportunity to solve a problem. The wait and see at the moment is becoming generational.

It seems ok for a whole school to get D's and E's if that's all the students can produce despite their best efforts. Just create an alternate school based criteria to distribute to parents at the same time.

The frustrating thing is that NCOS is working ok and this new system is degenerating into a debacle of epic proportions. Yay for our minister putting on the brakes a little. It will be interesting to see how the final implementation is delayed again if ACARA can't get a handle on this monster.

The only positive out of all of this is a push for more academic classes and more protection and attention for our gifted students. For this at least we can be thankful.

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