Since NAPLAN began in 2008, students’ results have been continuously declining. The government’s (both Liberal and Labour) response is always to spend more money. Clearly that isn’t working.
Its about time our leaders understood that money is not going to solve the problem.
There are five key components contributing to our poor NAPLAN results and one main major issue to consider.
1) Teacher Quality.
Not everyone can be a teacher and let’s face it, not everyone should be allowed to be a teacher. To attract the most talented individuals who can shape our future generations, we must pay well. Very well! Otherwise, the system will attract individuals who are not performing well academically and therefore are not accepted into more demanding university courses for higher paying careers. It is as simple as that. You get what you pay for.
2) Teacher Training.
Universities do not prepare teachers for classrooms. Other than teaching theory and practical skills, teachers need quality content. They need to know maths themselves before delivering maths education. They need to know how to write and structure an essay effectively and how to deliver it in an explicit and direct way, before they can teach others how to do so. University courses should be written by outstanding experienced teachers, not researchers who have never been in the classroom.
3) The Curriculum.
The current curriculum has become too cultured. Not enough time is dedicated to teaching the basic skills (solid maths and English).
4) The Schools
There is no accountability systems in place . Teachers choose to teach what they want for the length of time they want (particularly in primary schools). This means many kids don’t get enough time to master the core skills in maths and English.
5) Text Books
Teachers need structured, evidence-based text books that cover the key concepts of the curriculum in each subject. These books need to be approved by the Department of Education. Proper text books will eliminate randomness and chaos and ensure quality education.
And taking a wider view, the major issue we see with the government’s approach to education is that there is no national goal or vision.
No one can reach a destination if one has not been defined. Every nation that has achieved something significant achieved that goal because they had a 20-, 30- or even 50-year vision and worked towards it. We live in a time when the biggest vision a government has is a get-me-through-the-next-election vision.