Posts Tagged ‘Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Association’

Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching

March 30, 2012

The rise of standardised testing has replaced authentic teaching and learning with a saturation of practise and formal testing:

SATURATION testing is seriously undermining the quality of primary school education and should be stopped immediately, parents and educators claimed yesterday.

Thousands of kids are subjected to trial exams every week in the lead up to the compulsory Naplan tests, as well as exams for opportunity classes or selective high schools, and coaching by private tutors.

But while Naplan, which forms the basis of performance ratings on the My School website, focuses on literacy and numeracy, experts claim they are being “taught to the test” at the expense of other areas such as arts, physical education and music.

With the barrage of testing beginning in kindergarten, education consultant and public schools principals’ forum official Brian Chudleigh said the system was “out of control” and skewing education in the wrong direction. A former senior principal who is the education expert for The Daily Telegraph’s People’s Plan, Mr Chudleigh said the testing regime was contributing to a “massive dysfunction” in the state’s education system.

“We have become a system that is manic about measurement – the main problem is that it is so convenient for the politicians,” he said. “They want to reduce things to the value of a percentile or a number, and that has an impact on education.

“If a kid can’t be measured they don’t want to know about it.

“It reduces the value of anything that you can’t measure and the curriculum becomes focused on the measurable stuff,” Mr Chudleigh said.

“So the development of the whole child – including socialisation, emotional welfare, physical fitness and cultural factors – are relegated in importance.

“Many schools are having two or three lessons every week practising Naplan-style tests and that takes valuable teaching time away from other subjects. A lot of the best stuff we do with kids, particularly in primary school, is not measurable.

“It’s out of control. But our universities are littered with these kids who don’t do as well there as the generally all-round educated students.”

Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations spokeswoman Rachael Sowden said being taught to the test was “not what parents want”.

“They do not want to know that their child scored three marks more than the kid down the street,” she said. “Parents are as concerned about the whole child and how they are going in creative arts, physical education and music as much as in literacy and numeracy.

“Parents do want to know where their child is up to at school and they do that best by having a conversation with the teacher.”

I hate having to prepare 8 year-olds who have never sat for a formal test before for the rigours of the 3 day marathon that is NAPLAN. It’s just not fair! They are too young!

Should Primary Students Get Homework?

June 12, 2011

I have dwelled on this very question throughout my career thus far.  At the moment I am ‘for’ homework with the following conditions:

  1. It be no longer than 15 minutes a night
  2. That it not be new work but rather revision of class work
  3. That students have time to read questions and see me if they need clarification rather than go straight to their parents in a panic
  4. That it not be given in busy or stressful weeks such as the week of National Testing

Why am I “for’ homework?  Whilst ideally my homework would be to help set the table or to share the days learning with a parent, in reality it is not for me to prescribe domestic chores or family interactions.  I then have to weigh up what is better for the child – the opportunity to fit in a bit of revision or the inevitability that most students will go home and vegetate in front of the computer or TV.

Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg disagrees with me:

HOMEWORK in primary school is needless, does not contribute to academic performance and adds unnecessary stress to families, child development experts say.

“It’s hijacking family life, it’s bound to cause arguments and it’s turning kids into couch potatoes,” said prominent child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg.

Most studies show homework either has a negative impact or no impact on the achievements of primary school students, he said.

“The whole thing is a farce, it is modern-day cod liver oil; people think it’s good for them but it’s not.” 

In a study, soon to be published in the journal Economics of Education Review, US researchers assessed 25,000 Grade 8 children and discovered only maths homework had a significant improvement on test scores.

Helen Walton, president of the Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Association, said homework, which is set by individual schools, was a source of ongoing family stress.

“Our position is we don’t like the ‘must do’ attitude about it, that if kids don’t do it there will be consequences. It should be optional. Homework is a stressful time for parents because kids are tired and hungry and distracted and it becomes a struggle.”

Educational consultant Dr Ian Lillico said homework for primary school children was a major contributor to childhood obesity.

The founder of the Boys Forward Institute and author of The Homework Grid, said homework should consist of interactive learning opportunities like a game of Scrabble with parents or a visit to the theatre.

Dr Shelly Hyman said daughter Samsara, 8, has too much homework: “The tears and the argument that go on, especially because my daughter goes to after-school care, where is the free time?”

What is your take on homework?  Is it responsible for creating stress at home?

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