Posts Tagged ‘Deb James’

Pushy Parents and those Awful Standardised Tests!

May 13, 2012

So it turns out that some parents are so keen to have their children perform at the NAPLAN tests (Australia’s standardised tests) that they have started preparing them as early as kindergarten age. I couldn’t think of anything more dispiriting for a child. It’s bad enough I have to teach my Grade 3′s based on the questions they are bound to encounter during the tests, what could be worse than being subjected to it, up to 5 years in advance?

PUSHY parents are training kindergarten kids for Naplan – four years before they have to sit the controversial literacy and numeracy tests.

About a million students – in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 – will sit this year’s tests over three days next week.

But the pressure to perform is beginning years early, with some parents forcing their four-year-olds to take grade 3-level tests at home.

Dr Les Michel, from the Senior Students Resource Centre, said pre-school parents had joined the soaring demand for practice Naplan tests.

“This year we’ve even been getting kinder parents,” Dr Michel said.

“We would have had dozens, I’d say.”

Dr Michel said kindergarten parents bought the grade 3-level booklets, costing up to $24.95 each.

“They are really pushing their kids,” he said.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said Naplan practice for pre-schoolers was “highly alarming”.

“It’s putting more pressure on kids at such a young age that they really don’t need, and it’s usurping the role that teachers in the classroom play, which is completely unnecessary,” he said.

However schools are also increasing the pressure, with “teaching for the test” now beginning as early as grade 1.

“We’re aware of it happening, even though people won’t admit it on the record, and why would they?” Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said.

“It demonstrates the desperation of some schools – their reputation hangs on it.”

Victorian Independent Education Union secretary Deb James said there was an “increased and unwelcome” focus on the tests in schools.

Australian Education Union state president Mary Bluett said: “Kids sitting down and practising tests is not the way to learn.”

Lucky for these pushy parents, I have some suggested exercises for them to set for their children.

 

To prepare them for the persuasive writing exam, you could set your child some of the following topics:

1. What is more fun, studying language conventions or playing outside with friends?

2. Is doing practice tests with mum and dad considered quality time?

3. Is learning for fun overrated?

 

To prepare them for the maths paper, I have the following suggested activities:

1. Count up the blisters that you have accrued from all the writing you’ve done and round the number to the nearest ten.

2. If Johnny went to school from 8:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m. and then spent the next 2 hours completing timed reading comprehension exams, how much time does he have to relax?

3. What percentage of pushy parents ends up rearing appreciative kids?

Good luck parents!

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Teachers Cautioned Against Venting

February 1, 2012

There is no other job in a democratic country that is legally cautioned against venting or giving political opinions. Unfortunately, teachers have become the focus of regulations that are sensible for the most part, but contain some over-the-top directives.

TEACHERS have been warned against contacting students online amid fears too many are befriending their charges on Facebook.

In a major crackdown on social media use in schools, the State Government has released new guidelines designed to protect teachers’ reputations.

Educators say online smear campaigns by students have put teachers’ careers at risk, with some being forced to move schools.

The Government says the guidelines will also help protect students from inappropriate conduct by teachers.

“That boundary between being a teacher and a friend is one which teachers have to sometimes tread very carefully,” Minister for the Teaching Profession Peter Hall said.

“It’s important to provide parents with the confidence that their teachers have the knowledge available for them to do their job well.”

 Under the online directives launched today, teachers are also cautioned against:

CONTACTING students by mobile phone or email “without a valid educational context”.

POSTING any “offensive or slanderous” material about students, parents or colleagues.

SHARING content from personal social media sites, such as their Facebook accounts, with students.

UPLOADING images of themselves that have “potential to negatively affect their reputation”.

“VENTING” about their work, or posting personal or political opinions.

I have no issue with most of these directives. What I don’t appreciate is being told what I can say and do by somebody else. Teachers have the right to exercise discretion without having to be regulated to do so (I am not referring to inappropriate contact with students). Being told I can’t express my personal or political opinion is not appreciated.


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