Don't patch-up the old HSC, get a new one

22/2/2017


The changes to the HSC announced this week represent another wasted opportunity to bring schooling into the 21st century. 

Instead of trying to patch up a tired assessment model that is no longer fit for purpose, we need an entirely new approach to measuring learning and student achievement that is based on an innovative mindset and contemporary research.

When current students finish their last HSC exams at the end of this year, they will never again learn or be assessed the way they are now. Our model for assessing learning in today’s world needs more than updates, patches and fix-ups - it needs to be entirely transformed.  

Having spent the past 40 years (including 13 at school) in education, these reforms sound like the age old rhetoric of trying to improve education by improving the test.  The reality is the HSC is a relic of the last century.  

It was designed in the late 1950s and rolled out in the 1960s when the world of education work was very different.  Since the late eighties, successive governments have used school credentials as a means of somehow improving schooling.

What we desperately need is some divergent thinking because reform is not needed at the end of schooling but the beginning of it.

Why are we not investing resources into establishing a solid literacy, numeracy and socio-emotional foundation in the early years? We only need to look at what is happening in Finland and their focus on student happiness or Asia where education systems are looking beyond high stakes testing.

This requires a fundamental shift of focus on education policy and the foundations on which these policies rest. Every initiative recently announced by the NSW Government has been tried before with words like rigour, standards and improvement becoming the norm.
Where is the new thinking? Where is the innovative and relevant practice?

And where is the creativity that builds and sustains a genuinely realistic understanding that today’s world is not yesterday revisited. Nostalgia makes us feel good but it ultimately kills innovation.

If our politicians are serious about ensuring students are well-prepared for the new world of work, we first need to ensure the locus of innovative practice and entrepreneurial outlook is found in each and every school. It might be externally supported but is has to be locally driven. This means trusting the profession to make those judgements for its learning community.

The HSC reforms really are a missed opportunity to bring some coherence to educational policy and radically rethink how we assess the spectrum of students’ learning and skills.
Is there anyone bold enough to relinquish such educational relics?
Posted By Patrick Whiteley at 21/03/2017 2:38:36 PM
 
   
  
 

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