WHAT ! ?
What kind of feudal system
makes a federated country,
allegedly ‘young and FREE’,
establish a unit,
born of base instructional principles,
to knobble the democratic free spirit
of states that possess independent schooling rights?
What kind of totalitarian control
forces the states and their professional bodies
to inhibit the growth and development of its young
through the use of fear and the creation of anxiety?
The story of NAPLAN’s control of the Australian system of schooling continues. After Joel persuaded our institutes of great power and consequence that so-called ‘measuring of progress’ was the way to go; and Julia had corralled the operating units to do as they were told, a special kind of Central Intelligence Agency was established to supervise the road to mediocrity. Unlimited progress in learning achievements, creative expression and innovative thinking were knobbled in the pursuit of data and competition and blame.
Here is Chapter 4 of Fair-Dinkum Pupilling Girt by NAPLAN ‘Go Forth ACARA’
GO FORTH ACARA
Julia decided to establish a well-funded unit to have control over every state and over every school in every state that relied on federal funding….and ‘take over’ means ‘take over’. It’s not fair to say that it has a Gestapo kind of role, CIA perhaps, but there is a similarity in terms of surveilance, orderliness and control. The level of control is unprecedented. She established an untouchable sacred temple called ACARA. It is totally in charge of Australian schools from January to May, each year.
ACARA is not a vogue word made-up from the name of the laxative, Cascara. True, It is an acronym that covers everything….in case you think that it’s a bit big for its boots and britches. It says:
“The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is an independent statutory authority that will improve the learning of all young Australians through world-class school curriculum, assessment and reporting.”
That’s what they tell us in its own literature in case you have any doubts as to its magical abilities. So it is! ….a bit big for its boots, that is. A brave statement: “….that will improve the learning of all young Australians…… !!! Wow.
It’s now been operating for ten years. How’s it going?
Our old cobber, Barry McGaw, statistician par excellence, was appointed to set the thing up. A world-class academic and measurer from way back…and a good bloke to boot – he did what Julia bid and went in to bat for her scheme. Right up his alley. He was a dead set statistics bloke.
As a side story, because it says so much, I last saw Barry when he and I happened to be visiting Professor Gene Glass [and, by the way, this story is really about Gene Glass, not Barry] at the University of Colorado at Boulder, outside Denver, at the same time. They were preparing an academic article concerning meta-analysis in social research. Not my cup of tea. I just hung around doing what I wanted to do. [At the time I was on a study tour, studying the Minimal Competency Movement that was plaguing USA schooling at the time. In Britain, it was called Assessment of Performance. I was checking both. Both of these naplannish-style attacks on schools in both countries failed. The time spent on trying to improve things by issuing dogmas about expectations and then testing had been wasted. The Poms admitted that all they found out was that a Primary School, oriented to decent curriculum outcomes, was a most complex organisation; one of the most complicated, most intense organisations on the planet. The Yanks don’t make those sorts of admissions. Their conclusions are usually, “We’ve stuffed it up. Let’s keep going harder with this stuff. Let’s set it in cement.”
Both movements, ‘Minimum Competency Testing’ in the USA and ‘Assessment of Performance’ in the UK clearly illustrated to the world that mass blanket testing restricted productive learning in schools and were, in fact, injurious to mental health.
USA has heaps of problems doesn’t it…although we can trump them in many things….especially when it comes to self-inflicting wounds and creating problems. Gene was the Diane Ravitch of the time [1970-80s], unafraid the speak our against the peculiar excesses in relation to minimal competencies, and their peculiar setting of minimal standards for pupils to achieve. That’s why I wanted to meet him. Being the world’s most respected educational measurement guru at the time, Glass was able to point out the crazyness of many of the states laws that dealt with competency tests like naplan, on statistical grounds ; and the high likelihood of such movements to destroy serious learning. One school district, with which I was familiar would not allow a Graduation Certificate to be issued to anyone who was not proficient at Calculus. The school board consisted mostly of scientists attached to a Weapons Research Centre. You know what happens when know-alls from other disciplines take over. Cough. Cough.
Yes. He is the mega-analysis ‘Class Size’ Glass; and certainly has no equal as far as educational measurement and statistics-related commentary is concerned. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_V._Glass He’s ram-jam-packed with honors and awards and achievements that few world academics can claim. When he asked a little while ago to be released from the kinds of evaluation/testing programs that his present university conducted because of the manner in which children are treated by the unethical measurement [Naplan-like] techniques, something must be seriously wrong. It meant something. The world was shocked. It’s called ‘Integrity’ – now in short supply, world wide. Mind you the Murdoch press did not make much of this spectacular episode. No. They didn’t ‘fake’ anything, Donald. They just didn’t bother to mention it. [OK. That could be the same thing!] At the same kind of level of importance….if the Queen resigned as Head of the Church of England, would it get a mention? The likes of NCLB [NAPLAN if he lived down under] had compromised the integrity of beliefs of Gene Glass as a respected educational statistician for the same reasons that they compromise those of Treehorn and any other decent, clear-thinking, professional educator. There are measurers and there are measurers. I’m sure that Emeritus Professor Glass would not have a bar of NAPLAN. He does not encourage heresies and hoaxes of this kind.
Can ACARA and our testing system continue to thumb its noses at the like of Glass and Sir Ken Robinson and Robin Alexander and Kelvin Smythe and other world giants of the teaching profession….and….whose side are we on?
Won’t somebody [decision-maker, that is] stick up for kids?
Why don’t we halt the whole silly, wasteful, kid-crippling business and talk about fair-dinkum schooling?