Sunday, January 29, 2012

TAFE roles and stage 3 subjects

Classes where students are taken out of school for a day and then remain in stage three courses in year 11, in the majority of cases are setting students up to fail.  A student missing for a whole day each week, in a challenging course, lacking any evident independent learning skills is not destined to pass a stage three course.

The argument that they will make it up in directed study, to my mind, holds no water.  These students fail because they have to catch up multiple classes in these study periods, lack specialist assistance at these times (teachers have to keep teaching)..  and are generally borderline students in the first place.

I'm fully supportive of students participating in TAFE courses to complement their mainstream courses, I just believe that their mainstream courses should be kept at stage two levels to ensure that they can cope and succeed when year 11 reality and expectations kick in.  Stage two courses such as 2C and 2A MAT are better suited as these can be learned independently more easily.

If we think about it, it becomes obvious why they fail.  Firstly they lack a connection to the class, as better students tend to pair up with students that are regularly available.  Notes on the board do not replace the peer and teacher assistance that they lose from not being in class.  During directed study they cannot get immediate assistance from the teacher, particularly where the text is lacking in a particular area.  Students tend to shy away from them as the questions they ask are perpetually behind the level of the class and take considerable time both from the teacher and from other students trying to catch up on a regular basis.  This catch up process is exacerbated each week in multiple subjects.  It also causes issues with homework and assignments as that day is often lost due to travel commitments.

I have said this before and I will say it again.  We have to be careful with our subject selections and review them when students are out of class on a regular basis.  We should not underestimate the impact that this has on learning for the student.

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