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What The Gonski Review Got Wrong

Posted on 26 June 2018
What The Gonski Review Got Wrong
Education officials should be wary of endorsing the latest Gonski review reforms, a leading thinktank has warned, describing many of its key recommendations as illogical, lacking in evidence and potentially reckless.

Ahead of a critical Education Council meeting this week, the Centre for Independent Studies has released a policy paper criticising the review panel, led by businessman David Gonski, claiming that there was no sound evidence to support many of its recommendations, which have all been accepted in principle by the federal government.

Co-authored by the centre's senior research fellow Jennifer Buckingham and policy analyst Blaise Joseph, the paper accuses the panel of "failing to carry out the task entrusted to it", which was to provide the government with evidence-based advice on how education funding should be spent to improve student and school performance.

"These big reforms around the learning progressions and the online assessment tool have not been done anywhere before - there's no evidence, no precedents - it's venturing into the great unknown," Dr Buckingham said.

"Australian educators would really be going out on a limb if they were to embrace everything in the report." The policy paper, What The Gonski Review Got Wrong, takes particular aim at the push to raise the status of the general capabilities, such as literacy and numeracy, as well as critical and creative thinking skills, within the curriculum by linking them to "learning progressions" that would measure student learning growth as opposed to absolute measures of achievement.

While literacy and numeracy progressions were already aligned with curriculum, much less was known about the developmental sequence of other general capabilities, or even if they could be effectively taught, the paper said.

It pointed to an international review of 21st-century skills in schools - conducted for the NSW Department of Education last year - that found little evidence providing a clear direction on the most effective approaches to the teaching and learning of the identified skills, as well as the best ways to assess them.

The paper also highlights a lack of evidence to support the panel's recommendation that a new online continuous assessment tool be developed that would enable teachers to personally tailor their teaching to each student's needs.

According to the paper, the panel's endorsement of continual assessment of learning growth appeared to be based on its acceptance of the contentious "growth mindset" theory, which suggests that students can be trained to develop a mindset that is conducive to learning.

"The panel's confidence in mindset as a driving force for student achievement exceeds the evidence base supporting it," the paper says.

From: The Australian, Australia  by Rebecca Urban

18 Jun 2018
Tags: curriculum Government



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