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Broadening Teacher Workload - when is enough, enough?

Posted on 5 November 2017
Broadening Teacher Workload - when is enough, enough?
Teachers are under increasing pressure to be "counsellors, researchers or data analysts" as well as educators, a new global report has found, amid concerns that parents are expecting schools to pick up their "slack".

"Pressures on teachers are well documented and appear to be increasing, in part owing to new expectations," according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's latest global education monitoring report, released on Tuesday.

The report also found that despite increasing expectations for teachers, teaching continues to be undervalued in society.

"Beyond instruction and facilitating learning, teachers are asked to be counsellors, researchers or data analysts."

President of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council Chris Presland said that expectations being placed on Australian teachers are "now massive".

"We are picking up a lot of the slack of what I would call under-parenting," Mr Presland said.

"Parents who are under pressure are turning to schools on [things like] the issue of cyber-usage by students. Obesity is another issue.

"It's not that schools don't have a role to play [but] schools have no capacity to monitor what a student does on their computer in their bedroom."

The report also found that despite increasing expectations for teachers, teaching continues to be undervalued in society.

A 2014 OECD survey of more than four million teachers across 34 countries, including Australia, found that fewer than one in three teachers "reported that teaching was valued".

The UNESCO report also found that the vast majority of teachers in Australia said that standardised tests such as NAPLAN and PISA are affecting their teaching practices.

About 75 per cent of Australian teachers surveyed said that "accountability pressure had led them to teach more to the test", with the report finding that teachers often respond to test score pressures by narrowing the curriculum, "shaping the testing pool" and even "explicit cheating", the report said.

"Often, various types of unintended negative consequences more than outweigh the benefits of high-stakes accountability, particularly among the most disadvantaged schools and students."

It also found that standardised tests are not clearly improving student learning.

An evaluation of 11 countries, including Australia, that use "test-based accountability" found that six countries saw a decline in their PISA mean maths scores between 2003 and 2015, while five saw some increase, according to the UNESCO report.

"An overview of performance in the PISA study showed that sanction and reward systems did not yield substantial improvement," the report said.

"The most studied test-based accountability systems including those of Australia, the Republic of Korea and the United States did not show improved PISA performance on average or at the bottom of the distribution."

Mr Presland said Australia's "obsession with NAPLAN and PISA is out of control".

"We're looking for so much more from our education system and what our schools can do that an obsession with such a narrow measure is doing damage," Mr Presland said.

From SMH, Oct 24, 2017

Tags: wellbeing

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