Expert warns not to let assessment dominate curriculum thinking

Apr 04, 2011

The current focus on assessment means the public debate is overlooking how schools are engaging young people and preparing them for the future, according to Lyn Yates, Professor of Curriculum in the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education.

Professor Yates said we need to consider what knowledge young people need beyond the basics, so they can succeed in our rapidly changing world.

“As we work on a new national curriculum and see the public reporting of school test data become the norm, we need to make sure the assessment tail doesn’t end up wagging the curriculum dog,” she warned.

“Literacy and numeracy are important, but there are other big questions about how we are filling up 13 years of schooling. What does it mean to be Australian in a globalized world? What kinds of knowledge are foundations for understanding the world? What nurtures creativity beyond school? What does schooling do to create views of ‘us’ and ‘them’?” she said.

Professor Yates has co-edited two new books on curriculum, both of which will be launched today (4 April). One book’s study of curriculum policies in Australian states shows how varied their approaches to these issues have been, with unpopular curriculum development even leading to the demise of some state governments. “ACARA has a significant challenge in producing an Australian curriculum that builds successfully on previous state differences” she said.

Professor Yates said the rise of competency and capability based testing, driven in part by the international comparative testing conducted by the OECD, has led to a focus on areas such as ‘problem solving’ and ‘communication’, with the actual substance of what young people are learning less visible than the numbers and graphs produced to show achievement.

She said the development of the new Australian was proceeding well, but Australia needed to consider the experiences of other countries like the US and the UK to ensure this hard work was not undermined by the standards agenda.

“Recent accounts from the USA, the UK, Norway and Singapore raise concerns about what is happening to schools and their students as the emphasis on testing and benchmarking has taken hold. It is easy for the audit culture to dominate everything else schools do. Now is the time to make sure this doesn’t happen in Australia.” she said.

Explore further: Texas OKs most new history textbooks amid outcry

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Modern society made up of all types

Nov 04, 2010

Modern society has an intense interest in classifying people into ‘types’, according to a University of Melbourne Cultural Historian, leading to potentially catastrophic life-changing outcomes for those typed – ...

Baby boomers are reinventing retirement

Oct 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The challenges faced by recent retirees are changing how we plan for and expect to experience retirement in the future, say the academics working on a new University of Melbourne study.

How do you teach professionalism in pharmacy?

Nov 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Professionalism teaching and learning needs to be integrated, grounded and longitudinal throughout all four years of the pharmacy curriculum, says a new University of Manchester study.

The coal hard truth

Feb 04, 2011

Coal has long been synonymous with America's industrial heritage and economic expansion. That doesn't have to change: The United States has a 300-year supply of coal waiting to be tapped, a predicament that is at the heart ...

Who owns our blood?

Mar 21, 2011

The absence of specific laws which define the ownership, storage and use of blood drops taken from every Australian baby since 1971 could threaten public trust in newborn screening (NBS) programs in Australia, a University ...

Humans more diverse than we allow

Mar 29, 2011

A question central to Gillian Einstein's research is, How can I do science that would not make essentialist assumptions about the body?

Recommended for you

Study identifies why re-educating torturers may not work

Nov 21, 2014

Many human rights educators assume – incorrectly, as it turns out – that police and military officers in India who support the torture of suspects do so because they are either immoral or ignorant. This ...

Research helps raise awareness of human trafficking

Nov 21, 2014

Human trafficking –– or the control, ownership and sale of another human being for monetary gain –– was a common occurrence centuries ago, but many believe it doesn't exist in this day and age and not in this country.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.