After a number of quiet weeks, sections of the news media have seen a rush of stories and opinion pieces regarding the process, value and meaning of external testing like NAPLAN and the Higher School Certificate. These formal assessment tasks involve so many people and carry importance to many people. As such, these two sets of examinations have a great deal of weight in the eyes of politicians and many families. Hence, they make good fodder for journalists. For Schools, the greatest value is what the data reveals about how students are progressing and how we can refine our teaching and learning practices.
Most recently, the calls have been for greater transparency and an increase in the range of information available. For example, the only publicly available information about HSC results is for students who have gained 90% or more. From this information, news outlets create leagues tables and boil the performance of a whole year group’s performance to one rank position for a whole school. While we have celebrated the past three years as our best in the history of the school against this measure, it is such a narrow measure. A rank position is insufficient to understand everything our staff and students achieved over 13 years of school.
On that basis I fully support the improvement of public reporting of HSC and NAPLAN data so we can have a better understanding of what our students achieve each and every year.
An expansion of reporting will reveal the many students who achieve results in the high 80% band, but do not receive the same recognition as those who achieve 1 or 2 marks more. It will also capture the outstanding work that is done by students who work hard at their studies and gain a personal best, but not necessarily gain high ranking results. A full and clear picture of success, at what ever level it maybe, will be a definite improvement.
The role of the HSC is to provide a final indicator of achievement and an indicator for future pathways of study or work. What is does not provide is a measure of progress. Progress is the best measure of effective teaching and learning and currently, there is no external measure to do this for our graduating students.
What is available to our students, and even more powerful, is the regular feedback provided by teachers. This is available each and every day of learning. As I am currently meeting with each of our Year 12 students to discuss their goals, progress and opportunities, I tell them to keep asking their teachers every time they submit some work – “How can I make this better?”
This question is the key to progress and must focus on small improvement steps, so students know what to work on next. I also love this question because it can still be asked no matter what mark the work has received. This key question helps establish the plan for the next step in improvement and sets the goals for future and ongoing success. Finally, a mindset of learning progress is relevant no matter what age the learner – 5, 16 or 52 years old!
I am very excited about the commencement of ‘Cross Training’. This is a new initiative of Mrs Worsley to provide tennis, basketball and fitness training for interested students before/after school hours. You might have seen that in Term 2 that a soccer program will also be starting with before and afternoon coaching sessions with Mr Cleur. He has a background of playing soccer professionally in Italy and Uruguay and brings his skills and experience to our school. For those who are passionate about these sports and want to expand their skills in sports, these are great opportunities.
School Perspectives Survey
We are nearing the end of our School Perspectives survey. All students and staff and families have received an email with an invitation to complete this survey. It is only short, taking about 15 minutes to complete and asks about your perception of the School Environment, Teaching and Learning, Student Wellbeing, Leadership and Community.
We have had more than 900 responses so far and would love to receive your input. Gathering information about these areas will be of significant benefit to us as a community to help identify our school’s strengths and opportunities for future improvement. Survey closes 11pm Sunday, so there is still time to have your say.
We have been keeping a close eye on the numbers of COVID-19 cases within our school community. Currently, numbers are stable, and we are most thankful for this. That said, I wish to raise your awareness that should COVID case numbers rise significantly within the school community, we may need to adjust the daily lesson structures to provide good learning opportunities and meet staff and student needs effectively. We are committed to providing onsite learning throughout this time and it is our desire not to return to our remote learning, if at all possible. Any adjustments to onsite learning will be short term and only utilised if absolutely necessary.
Mr Keith McMullen