WACOT Report

Did any of you hear about this on the news last week? Perhaps I was drowning in examination papers at the time and missed it. We have now had WACOT just over four years. As part of the legislated responsibility, a review was commissioned ‘as soon as was reasonable after four years to ascertain WACOT’s effectiveness in achieving its intended objectives”. On the 23rd September, Liz Constable announced in response to this “Review of the WACOT Act” that:

“… there is a pronounced mismatch between what teachers had expected of the college and what the college has delivered. For example, they had expected the college to promote the profession, deliver professional development and take a stand on controversial issues, but believe the college has fallen well short on these things.”

The most interesting of the many detailed reports submitted was the 63 page review on the “Teacher Survey” which was taken from a pool of 932 teachers from all education sectors in WA. If you are interested, page 60-62 itemise the recommendations for WACOT improvement. You can access a copy of this report at http://www.des.wa.gov.au/Legislative_Review/Review%20of%20the%20WACOT%20Act-%20Report%20of%20the%20Survey%20of%20Teachers.pdf

If you would like to make an entry, I would be most interested in YOUR response to the WACOT experiment. Post a comment at our FACEBOOK DISCUSSION BOARD.

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Obama: Money alone can’t solve school predicament – Yahoo! News

This is definitely a conversation we will be having in Australia. There is no doubt that the next steps from National Curriculum, National Testing and National Tertiary Entrance Examinations will be to use these tools as measuring sticks for teacher / school / principal performance, Private/Public School funding decisions, teacher pay and bonus for improved performance.

I doubt it will be long before we will have to consider student contact hours, especially in the Secondary environment. An interesting broad report; perhaps the combination of the huge contribution from Facebook founder to Newark schools (100 million) and this week’s “Education Nation” (US based Education Summit this week) are prompting some ‘big conversations’ in the U.S. … watch this space!

Obama: Money alone can’t solve school predicament – Yahoo! News.

Is There A Baby In This Bath Water?

At a garage sale on the weekend I picked up an old copy of an education text I hadn’t seen for many years. Most WA Teachers would be familiar with BEGINNING TEACHING – I purchased it for $2. Flicking through the pages, I was reminded of the MANY techniques that these sharp educators exposed us to and wondered how many of these techniques are used adequately today.

I have read many books on discipline in the classroom, management systems and follow up routines. A little like a good recipe, we often need to see these methods ‘in progress’ in order to evaluate if they could work for us (or at least elements of them?). This video sample is one of many techniques demonstrated by TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION; a youtube search would give you more and you’ll find a comprehensive bank at their FACEBOOK SITE. If you do visit that site, have a look at TARA MEAD’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL ROUTINE. Phew! The comments on this post alone are quite controversial.

I’m truly interested to know whether you feel these techniques have place in YOUR teaching world? Is there a baby in this bath-water for you? Here’s a sample:

The Parent Partnership

Since my post about “Teacher Responsibility” did not receive a standing ovation from my teacher friends, I thought I would include this terrific report prepared by NEiTA (National Excellence In Teaching) and the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) discussing the role of parents in partnership with schools/teachers. I will be seeing if I can secure a few printed copies for our Parent Evenings.

WA Student Numbers to SURGE by 2020

I can hear the ‘grey brigade’ cheering! As our aged and most experienced staff exit education in droves (See earlier report comments) they will be leaving our education system with a shortage of teachers and a booming student population. Enrolment Projections for the period 2011-2020 provided by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations are mind-blowing.

Bethany Hiatt succinctly covered the projections in today’s West Australian article “School’s brace for surge in students” if you would like the details.

OECD Education at a Glance

Interested in seeing how Australia compares with the rest of the world in relation to performance, graduation statistics, students pursuing tertiary studies, money spent on education, alternative programs in other countries, ‘country rankings’, teacher pay scales, class sizes, contact time?

Then you may be interested in looking over the new 472 page report from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) … OK…. there is an abridged version titled, “Highlights from Education at a Glance” (92 pages) which is well worth having a glance at. You may wish to leave a strategically placed, pre-highlighted copy in the teacher’s staff room in hope that the Principal may have a look too!

NAPLAN Data Released

National NAPLAN Data has been released today.

http://www.naplan.edu.au/verve/_resources/NAPLAN_2010_Summary_Report.pdf

Although a ‘raw data’ comparison will show that WA students are performing below the National Average it is important to remember that, on average, WA students in year 9 are nearly 1 year YOUNGER than our Eastern States counterparts and have experienced 1 ‘less’ year of schooling. This is a variable that will likely be marginalised by our newspapers.

 This is being corrected by the ‘half cohort’ year coming through the WA system (currently children in Year 8). Queensland schools will now be represented as the ‘weaker cousin’ as they have not yet made the adjustment to be ‘in line’ with the rest of the country.

Learning BUY the Book?

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

As I have already established in earlier posts, we are testing a ‘trial’ year of laptop use for one year group at our school. The parent information evening is this coming week. It has been an exciting time. One of the issues we will be working through will be related to textbook resourcing. Do we encourage outright textbook purchases, e-textbooks, subscription, book hire or etc?

I know that many colleges and schools have already gone through this minefield and I am very interested in the range of responses that are available in e-land. A few years ago we initiated a book hire program to attempt to cut down the cost of text books for parents – in some cases a single textbook choice (especially in our Upper School year groups) could be in the $120 – $150 range. For a low-fee paying school, these are exorbitant text purchases (especially if the student chose to drop the course and move to another mid year!)

If you have seen any of the IPad book applications or really interacted with an e-textbook, they are truly amazing. Double-click a word to access a dictionary/thesaurus on the spot, bookmark, highlight and add a comprehensive note in the margin (some allow colour coding and themed tabs, etc).  There is a WOW factor for the desk bound user (though IPads open a few more learning environments).

This having been said, I suspect that there is still some anxiety about any ‘e-moves’ in this arena. People may be willing to experiment with a book that is chosen for ‘interest’ but there is a sense of ‘risk’ in utilising these alternative text types if a child’s education is standing in the balance. 

Price is a factor too. In general an ‘e-textbook’ will cost about 25-50% of the original price; some are available at a cheaper rate if you agree to a subscription cost, e.g. 180 day subscription. Pearson have launched a comprehensive site at  http://www.coursesmart.com/ . It is well ‘hidden’, perhaps there is some concern about taking business from Pearson book sellers? E-text availability also has a political element with many texts not available in electronic form through the main sellers unless their printing-house has secured an agreement with the ‘reseller’.

Attitudinally, purchasers are sometimes less willing to part with good money for a ‘virtual’ commodity, I know I still struggle with wanting a tangible ‘something’ for my money – I suppose that is why software is sold in BOXES. Perhaps it is just my age but I like the ‘feel’ of a good book, it is more transportable, I can read it places where I may not take a computer, I can read it lying down, the ownership quotient is higher. I have a ‘feel’ for ‘where I read that bit’.  

I will be interested to see how this experiment unfolds at our school and how well some of these changes are received.

You can trial an E-Textbook  of your choice for FREE by visiting   http://www.coursesmart.com/ – you will need to register with a CC. I’m having fun with a free English textbook from the US.