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Australian Current Affairs

Many Australian teachers find national literacy and numeracy plan too difficult to understand


Australia Literacy NumeracyMany teachers do not know how to use data provided by annual assessments of their pupils’ literacy and numeracy ability, despite often criticising the tests themselves, a new report has found.

The report, from the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee also said teachers need more training to help understand the basics of English and mathematics taught in primary schools.

The standardised NAPLAN tests provide useful data for teachers, the committee found, but this was masked by an incorrect emphasis on the tests’ role in schools. It recommended teachers be provided training in the use of evaluative data to overcome the problem. “Testing results provide useful data on student performance, however, teachers need to be given training to understand and interpret evaluative data,” the report said.

The recommendation represents a stinging rebuke of teachers who have mounted campaigns against the tests as being costly, inefficient and unhelpful.

Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said teachers do “need to be able to better interrogate the data but that data also needs to be of a higher quality. We understand NAPLAN is a limited tool, a snapshot in time, and its diagnostic value is limited because the results arrive back in the hands of schools months and months later.”

The cross-party committee, chaired by Liberal senator Chris Back, also supported a federal government plan that teaching courses be reviewed by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency.

The committee heard from University of Canberra lecturer Misty Adoniou who said teachers could often point out what was wrong or right in a child’s sentence without understanding the grammatical framework behind this.

“We just do not have teachers who are aware of how English works in that way. It is quite a deep knowledge that you need to have,” she said.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said the report showed the government was taking the right approach. “In the schools I visit I’ve meet countless teachers and school leaders using NAPLAN data to better track student progress and develop learning plans so that every student, and every class, improves over time,” he said.

“It’s important that every teacher is equipped with the skills to use data like NAPLAN to help their students.”

The Senate report was also critical of the government’s demand-driven funding model for undergraduate education, which it linked to a fall in the quality of applicants.

“Teaching would appear to be a back-up option for many middling students, rather than a profession that Australia’s top performers aspire to,” it said.

The report also repeated concerns made in many other parliamentary reports over the past 30 years about the quality of teacher training and skills.

A spokesman for Tertiary Education Minister Craig Emerson said the government would “make sure that only those people who have high levels of literacy and numeracy, a dedication for teaching and a great classroom practice will graduate and enter Australia’s schools”.

Source: The Australian – NAPLAN tests too hard for teachers
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Many Australian teachers find national literacy and numeracy plan too difficult to understand

  1. Here in the U.S., teachers are continually asking for pay raises, yet our children come out of school and can’t even sign their names (no longer teach script) have trouble with math, low on the totem pole of grades in science and barely able to read.

    Posted by gpcox | May 20, 2013, 21:47

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