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The Forum > Article Comments > Floating gently on a waft of edu-dribble > Comments

Floating gently on a waft of edu-dribble : Comments

By John Ridd, published 6/6/2006

The rise and fall of educational assessment in Queensland.

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John

What has happend in Qld is now well under way in WA. There has been an absence of any notion of a syllabus in K to Year 10 since the introduction of WA's Curriculum Framework in 1997. Now this is being extended into Years 11 & 12, but with one difference, there will still be an external exam. Therin lies the problem. How can a statewide exam be set in the absence of a core of prescribed syllabus material? Of course the answer is that such exams cannot be set without being so general in nature as to defeat the whole exercise.

We are really struggling in WA also and share your dispair.
Posted by Sniggid, Tuesday, 6 June 2006 4:41:33 PM
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(A response to the article by John Ridd, Tuesday, 6 June.)

It is somewhat simplistic to hark back to the "good old days" of tough exams, numerical scales of grading, norm-referencing and to "industrial age" teaching practices. It was these systems and the style of teaching and assessment that accompanied them, which led us to a critical shortage of teachers, researchers and tertiary students interested in studying in Mathematics and the Sciences. Ask any group of adults, "who enjoyed, their study of Mathematics and the Sciences (Chemistry/Physics) at school - who became passionate and inspired by it?", and the response is overwhelmingly negative (especially fro Mathematics). If students do not enjoy, and do not feel successful in, the study of these crucial areas, they will not pursue them beyond school.

We have a duty to today's students to fix the errors of the past and encourage, at least some of them, to take up a future in Mathematics and the Sciences. Those of us who have worked in the world outside of schools, in fields involving Mathematics and the Sciences, know that in working in those fields we do not sit exams at the end of each quarter; nor do we work in total isolation from peers and colleagues; nor are we denied access to resources, technological and information, in solving problems, and developing responses to "real world" issues. Studentsí experience of learning in the disciplines, needs to be authentic, and relevant to how the discipline is applied outside of schools.

The fact that some students cheat on assignments is not a valid argument against this form of assessment. It is a compelling argument, however, for the careful enforcement of rigorous conditions placed on the conduct of assignments, including drafting processes that allow teachers to track the development of the studentís response and to see their thinking and understanding evolve. While cheating remains problematic in all areas of learning (and research by the way) when using assignments, many students give us a better view of their developing understanding on this form of assessment.
Posted by Scott, Tuesday, 13 June 2006 11:48:55 AM
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