WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW

The Treehorn Express 

Click‘Care for Kids’

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience.

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Treehorn is the hero of an easy-to-read children’s book: “The Shrinking of Treehorn” by Florence Heidi Parry. The story clearly illustrates the disregard that adults demonstrate towards children at school. Treehorn’s  principal and his teacher,even his parents, give him ‘short shift’. See http://primaryschooling.net?page_id=1924  for further detail.

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 WHY ? Why aren’t parents offered the choice of having their children undertake NAPLAN test-preparation and testing or not? 

 WHY AREN’T PARENTS TOLD THAT THEY CAN SAY ‘NO’?

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The Australian government operations are suitably described as possessing an Orwellian structure. Orwellianism is described as an oligarchical dictatorship, based on a nonsensical, peculiar thought process that manipulates social structures on behalf of the most powerful in the land. It persuades the electorate to indulge in double-thinking by holding two contradictory views and believing in both. Teachers, for instance, can believe in an individual’s freedom to learn and, at the same time, succumb to the use of fear-driven practice techniques that prepare their pupils for Big Brother’s decadent blanket, NAPLAN tests. By embracing inconsistent concepts, school principals can acquiesce to the unethical political view that low test scores indicate poor teaching and shabbily-run schools; and their professional conscience wont worry them. Professionally neutered, they are unable to dissent from the mandates of politico-measurers who are in charge. [The Treehorn Express 27 November,2011]

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What Parents Need to Know about NAPLAN

[For those schools that are including extracts from Treehorn in their ‘news’.]

NAPLAN [ http://www.naplan.edu.au/ ]stands for National Assessment Program – Literacy And Numeracy; a series of tests which were commenced in 2008 by ACARA [Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority] on the orders of the then Federal Minister for Education, Ms Julia Gillard,  following a visit to the United States, where she had met a fellow lawyer, Joel Klein, then in charge of a large school district in New York. He was able to persuade her that his high-stakes, judgemental, fear-based testing operations would suit Australia. Her predecessor Dr. Brendan Nelson and her leader, Mr. Kevin Rudd, agreed wholeheartedly at the time with this form of force-fed school improvement, with outcomes to be judged by the international tests called PISA.

PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] is a test given to a random selection of 15 year-old pupils from a number of OECD countries in mathematics, science and reading every three years. 65 countries participated in 2009. Australia has always been in the top-ten in the world until the effects of NAPLAN showed a serious decline in 2012. For those whose belief systems are based on numbers, it can be claimed that Australia was 9/65 in 2009.  We had been 5th in Reading, 8th in Maths., 5th in Science  during the 2000,2003,2006 period.

SO! Our PISA scores have been sliding backwards since the introduction of NAPLAN in 2008. The reasons are  obvious.

However, our Prime Minister is one who believes in the power of scores through the use of heavy-fire power aimed at teachers;  and has announced that Australia will be in the top 5 places by 2025…by hook of by crook.  Amen. If  Australia isn’t up there, it’s the teachers’ fault.

There’s a contrary view,  espoused by The Treehorn Express and friends on some of the LINKS below.  If NAPLAN or any form of high-stakes blanket testing continues past 2013 with a Beetlebaum charge through the field to fifth or better, it will be miraculous. Perhaps Ms.G.  believes, as do her coterie of testucating teacher-bashers that the use of on-line testing will have special magical powers and improve the learning climate of schools. If NAPLAN ceases in 2013, as it should, it will be a demonstration of popular democratic will and fiscal responsibility. The billion or so spent just on tests can be better used.

Australian parents [even those who  trust such scoring] might wonder why we copied a schooling system from New York, one of the lowest scorers in the USA, which itself, was 17th in the PISA Stakes in 2009. It certainly defies logic.

Willing advice from countries such as Finland which consistently scores well on PISA tests without spending billions on testing, has been deliberately ignored. [See Finnish Lessons by Pasi Sahlberg] Rejection of wise advice from such high-scoring countries also defies logic.

Since the sadistic Klein system of heavy testing  was introduced to Australia in 2008, there has been little reference to the business of LEARNING.  Even when primary principals tried to discuss it at the largest conference they have ever held in the South Pacific [e.g. NZPF-APPA 2012 Conference], controlled silence kept the outcomes hidden from the public. Not a word!

Schools themselves would like to talk about trying to extend pupilling pedagogies instead of confining them to the didactic.   Classroom teachers can certainly improve the levels of achievement of anything at all, better than anyone else can, if they are allowed professional control over a sound personal curriculum. No one has yet thought about talking to them…about discussing pupil-driven joy of achievement, about the challenges of learning itself, about the ways of sharing evaluation of effort with friends [e.g. teachers] and parents, about the destructive nature of NAPLAN on classroom learning.

Parents! Please talk to your principal, district officer and your child’s teacher about these aspects of NAPLAN. Encourage open discussion in your community.  You are the only ones allowed to raise such issues.  In most Australian states, teachers, school administrative  staff, members of school-based parents’ association  are not allowed to express any anti-NAPLAN viewpoint. In a perverse orwellian style, this form of coercion has become part and parcel of our education system. High-stakes blanket testing must cease before the damage become irreparable.

Parents: For the sake of Australia’s future, give your school a short note telling it that you do not want your children to participate in any pre-NAPLAN-test preparation nor the tests. If your chosen school is a thinking one, with a democratic outlook, it will bless you. It’s hands are tied, don’t forget, and will welcome your note.

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“There is widespread lack of awareness amongst parents and teachers that parents can withdraw their child. Many believe that NAPLAN is compulsory. One ACT parent said that ‘there has been some sort of concerted effort at all relevant levels to con [i.e. mislead and deceive] students and parents into believing that NAPLAN was compulsory.’ A NSW mother said that it took weeks of repeatedly asking for a withdrawal form.  One Queensland school tried to convince a parent not to withdraw her child because without NAPLAN results she would find it hard to get into a private school.

A Victorian mother was told that she was not ‘playing to the rules’ by withdrawing her son and that ‘he had to do it!’ A NSW school principal refused a request from the P&C to put the withdrawal form on the school website because ;I am not allowed to do that’.”  [Trevor Cobbalt: Fighting for Equity in Education – NAPLAN is a Cancer Eating Away at Education.

Recommended Links

Phil Cullen AM FACE FACEL FQIEL
Gold Medal : ACEL
Life Member : CCEAM, QSPPA, QSPSSA
Classroom Teacher : 17 years
Primary Principal : 22 years
State Administrator: 17 years
Author
Grandfather
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443
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