Replied to Building the Windmill (or knocking it down again?) by Darcy Moore (Darcy Moore's Blog)
It is easy to be wise after the event but it was clear to everyone in education at the time what this kind of standardised testing (soon to be turned into pseudo-league tables) would do to our schools and communities. Now, we are all about to embark on the next iteration of school reform with many of the same players in place and the same kind of flawed, grand educational policy about to start afresh. One can only hope we do not forget the lessons of Animal Farm for those of us who have to carry out the real work of planning for the never-ending rebuilding of The Windmill.
It feels like people are picking and choosing the bits that they like in the new Gonski review, I wonder though whether we can have the collaboration without the newfound accountability?

Anyway, off to push the rock to the top of the hill once again.

Bookmarked Gonski’s new plan to reinvent Australian schools for the future has this one big flaw by John Fischetti (EduResearch Matters)
The glaring contradiction in the report, as I see it, its that it asks for massive changes to an assembly-line reality by advocating for more assessment assembly-lines. Ken Boston in his recent commentary speaks to this by advocating that this is a “evolution not a revolution.” What is missing from this argument for learning progressions is the assumption that learning can be standardized across children. Chunking a NAPLAN component a day or week turns teachers into test givers and paper pushers rather than gifted learning scientists negotiating each child’s journey through the curriculum so that they are engaged and inspired, not lab rats.
Another post adding to the conversation on #Gonski2.
Bookmarked Professional learning and collaboration: Where have they Gonski and where are we going? (the édu flâneuse)
As teachers are asked to increasingly use data, be aware of research, collaborate, and engage in ongoing professional learning, workload remains an issue. Collaboration and professional learning take time. Professional learning, in particular, often happens in teachers’ own time, and using their own funds. Time and resourcing are important considerations influencing to what extent teachers are able to collaborate and participate in effective professional learning.
Deborah Netolicky reflects upon the need for time and collaboration called out in the recent Gonski review. I have been a part of the introduction of Disciplined Collaboration in my previous school, as well as the development of collaborative presentations for conferences. I think that this comes back to the challenge of funding associated with such endeavors. Even if various administrative tasks are taken from teachers, they need to be done by somebody and that is still a cost.
Listened TER #112 – Perspectives on Gonski 2 – 13 May 2018 from Teachers' Education Review

With the release of the “Gonski 2.0” report, there have been many conversations about just what is the ideal vision for the future of Australian education. But in considering the many recommendations included in the report, what would it even mean to implement them? And is there broad agreement that they do actually represent the best vision for the future of education in Australia?

For this special episode, we bring together 4 different perspectives on the report and its findings, including:

This is an intriguing conversation and provides a number of perspectives on Gonski from academics who has been following the topic for several years.
Bookmarked
This call for a ‘review’ has sparked a range of responses. One of the focuses seems to be strip the curriculum ‘back to basics’. I am interested in Professor Geoff Masters role in leading the review:

The NSW Education Standards Authority would engage Professor Geoff Masters from the Australian Council for Education Research to lead the review.

He said the review would look at implementation issues and look for ways to declutter and simplify the curriculum.source

Time will tell what this review will actually provide. As a Victorian, it is interesting to watch from afar.

Replied to Gonski 2.0: Promoting a deficit view of Australian teachers (the édu flâneuse)
Of course we can and should improve Australian education. Of course we should have high expectations of students and educators. Of course we should develop our knowledge of effective teaching, learning and leading. Of course we should continue to develop our engagement with research and evidence. But Australian education is not a factory model of mass education production. It is not a calamitous problem to be solved, a bunch of broken individuals to be fixed, or a commercial opportunity ready to be flooded by corporate solutions. Australian teachers, school leaders and schools deserve trust, respect, support and involvement in policymaking.
I am really interested in your point about rhetoric. Another interesting read on the topic of testing and improvement is National Testing in Schools. I was really struct by the influence that NAPLAN has had on the way we speak about learning and education as a whole, especially Nicole Mockler’s chapter. It feels that this report continues some of this.
Bookmarked Glenn Savage on #Gonski2 (Filling the pail)
Having taught curriculum theory for many years, my personal view is that I think we need to be careful not to get caught up in curriculum fads that do much to celebrate the notion of transcending so-called ‘siloed disciplines’ in favour of what, in reality, can often be an atmospheric assemblage of dispositions we’re apparently supposed to structure learning around. - Glenn Savage
This continues Savage’s commentary on Gonski 2.0 (see The Conversation and listen to the ABC.) He raises a number of concerns about jumping straight into implementation, arguing that we need to run a number of pilots to test some of recommendations before over-investing. He is also wary of fads and solutions.

I can tell you, I’ve worked in some of the most disadvantaged schools in the Western world and when I arrived at work in the morning, the challenges I faced weren’t poor kids with fixed mindsets. Instead, I had poor kids who hadn’t had breakfast, who were shivering because their parents couldn’t afford uniforms, or who were suffering trauma from their time in refugee camps. Mindsets had nothing to do with it.

From an ideological point-of-view, he does not think that approaching the document from only one lens offers much. Instead he offers a number of plausible interpretations to demonstrate the possibilities.

Listened Gonski 2.0 - what would these changes mean? from ABC Radio

The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools discusses a model that gives children personalised teaching based on their ability and achievements, rather than grouping children together according to their age.

On Focus, Nadia sets out to find out exactly what personalised learning is, how it works and what its benefits - or shortcomings - might be.

She speaks to Professor Geoff Masters, CEO of the Australian Council for Educational Research, who outlines the shortcomings in our current system and the alarming decline in the performance of 15-year-olds compared to students in other countries.

Dr Glenn Savage, senior lecturer in Public Policy and Sociology of Education at the University of Western Australia agrees that while there is a definite decline in the achievement of Australian students compared to their international peers, he is more sceptical about the recommendations made in Gonski 2.0.

He says there are better things to be spending our education dollars on than another big overhaul of the Australian education system.

He also believes several changes over the past few years have not helped stem the decline and we still have not tackled the issues of inequitable access to education funding that were identified by the first Gonski report.

Glenn Savage and Geoff Masters talk with Nadia Mitsopoulos about the new Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools. Some of the points discussed include:

  • Does the new report addresses the question of inequality?
  • Is ‘personalised teaching’ worth the money and investment?
  • Is the educational sector exhausted by continual reform agendas?
  • Do the recommendations really address what is happening in the classroom?

Glenn Savage also summarised his thoughts in a post on The Conversation. While Geoff Masters (and Ray Adams) published a post in the ACER Newsletter addressing the question of ‘inequality’ arguing that recent findings have found that equity and fairness are often more important.

In an ‘equitable’ school system, students’ special needs and unequal socioeconomic backgrounds are recognised and resources (for example, teaching expertise) are distributed unequally in an attempt to redress disadvantage due to personal and social circumstances. Here again, ‘equity’ is achieved by prioritising fairness over equality.source

Bookmarked Malcolm Turnbull backs Gonski 2.0 'blueprint' for radical overhaul of Australian curriculum (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Students' progress will be assessed alongside standard academic benchmarks under a new approach to school education.
So the wheel continues to turn. First we had progression points. Then we moved to ‘Standards’. Now we are focusing on the individual:

Under-achieving students would focus on improvement, while more advanced students would be pushed to meet “stretch targets” beyond their age or year level. End-of-year results would be scrapped in favour of “learning progressions” that can be assessed and attained at any time – and tracked, even if a student changes schools or states.

Although this is a considerable change, it has been something spoken about for a number of years. Interestingly, this comes with a review of ‘autonomy’ and the ‘social status’ of teachers:

Mr Gonski also called for an “urgent” review of what students are taught in years 11 and 12, greater autonomy for school principals and measures to boost the social status of teachers.

This seems fair until the buck is passed from Federal or State level to the school. Again no mention of equity (opps, that was Gonski 1.0). In a post for The Conversation, Glenn Savage argues that any changes must be in addition to those called for in the first review, not in replace of this:

We need to (once again) question whether the contemporary reform fever does any more than treat symptoms while deeper structural conditions continue to ensure, as the original Gonski report put it, unacceptable links between young people’s socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of achievement.

We need to be careful not to stray too far from where the first Gonski report started out. That is: addressing inequalities in Australian schooling through re-distributive funding.

Interestingly, on the one hand we want to boost teachers, while also undermine them with a ‘new online assessment tool’ to seemingly justify results:

The restructured curriculum would be underpinned by a new online assessment tool teachers use to gauge where their pupils are up to and develop “tailored teaching and learning strategies” for individual students.

With all this said and done, I was a little confused by the discussion of ‘de-privitisation of teaching’:

There was emerging evidence to support what the report called the “de-privatisation of teaching”, which involved moving away from a model where teachers would stand alone at the front of the classroom and took sole responsibility for their pupils, towards greater collaboration.

I look forward to reading the analysis from those much more informed than me.


There is a summary of the report that can be helpful to look at: