Questioning the standards of literacy and numeracy

David Tout and Juliette Mendelovits examine why we receive such differing reports on the literacy and numeracy skills of young Australians.

Australia participates in several large-scale assessment programs that provide information about the knowledge and skills of the population at various points in the lifespan. Each of these programs tells its own story about literacy and numeracy standards in Australia, and some of these stories appear to contradict one another. The 2006 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALLS) reported that about 50 per cent of Australians between the ages of 15 and 74 are below the minimum required standard of literacy and numeracy. Three years later, the 2009 OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reported that 15 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds are below a baseline level of proficiency in reading and mathematics. Australia’s National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), on the other hand, reported in 2011 that only six per cent of Year 9 students – who are around 14 years of age – are below the minimum standard of literacy and numeracy. Taken at face value, these results suggest a lot of improvement in a short space of time; however, trends observed over that same period within assessment programs do not support this view.

What, then, can explain these wildly different reports? Are these three assessment programs measuring completely different things? Or do expectations vary about what constitute adequate levels of literacy and numeracy? Or is there something else at play? Further, if the reasons for the variation can be understood, is it possible to represent these standards on a single, coherent continuum of achievement?

Image of student

Explaining the differences

The apparent discrepancies between different measures of literacy and numeracy can be explained by four key factors:

• the definitions of literacy and numeracy used;

• the stated and unstated program purposes;

• the agenda of the stakeholders; and

• the way standards are represented statistically.

Read the full article

The teacher’s quick guide to digital scavenger hunts

A great “Tuning in” idea to introduce a new topic for students. OR an excellent assessment tool for students to design and present their learning.
Jeff Dunn from @edudemic presents a guide to digital scavenger hunts with the tools and process to get started.

Getting students to design their own could be a means by which students could demonstrate their understanding and deeper thinking about any learning area – history, science and even literature studies or narratives. A great way to explore learning. Its more than fun (although fun is never a bad thing in learning) it is actually a complex task that can present a students understanding of what they know.

If you’ve got a smartphone or a tablet in your classroom, you’re ready for the adventure to begin! By adventure I mean digital scavenger hunts.

 Digital scavenger hunts should be carefully prepared so don’t rush into them. They’re fun and, if done properly, will get students excited to do another one. If instead students spend the entire time asking you, the teacher, questions … then it’s not ideal. Instead, make sure the hunt is planned out so that the students can only ask questions of each other. That’s likely the best way to keep the active learning process in high gear. Full article


A clash of cultures: Hate speech, taboos, blasphemy, and the role of news media

A teaching and learning resource for media , English – all teachers, to use with senior students around issues of Digital Citizenship, freedom of speech, cultural differences and respect. written by Jane Sasseen and presented here by the Australian Policy Online  

 This report examines the intense debate about the rights of countries or communities to restrict content viewed as blasphemous or objectionable in their cultures and how this is affecting the international news media landscape.

 The ability of individuals to openly speak their minds is a core principle not only of American journalism, but American democracy. Even when speech is insulting or disrespectful to others-speech that might run afoul of hate speech laws throughout Western Europe or be banned outright in much of the rest of the world-it is generally permitted in the United States. But the rise of the Internet and the instantaneous global communications it enables have raised a host of new questions about how to handle hate speech and other potentially offensive speech when it can be seen by audiences in other countries that do not share those values

What high-scoring countries do right in maths, reading, and science

The TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center released the study today. It was made possible by the fact that the TIMSS, which assesses math and science achievement, and the PIRLS, which gauges reading skill, were given at the same time in 2011. That enabled the test administrators at Boston College to synthesize information from the two in order to make observations about what they called “the culture of educational excellence.” Full article

Nominate for ICTEV 2014 Educator of the Year

Information Communication Technology Education Victoria (ICTEV) is seeking nominations for the ICTEV 2014 Educator and Leader of the Year Award from Victorian educators who have made an outstanding contribution, using computer technology, to the educational advancement of their students and have had a significant positive effect on their colleagues, both at school level and within professional associations. The person may be nominated, or may nominate him / herself. If the teacher is nominated by their school, the school is eligible for $1,000 of ICTEV professional development. Applicants must be either an individual member of ICTEV or a staff member of an ICTEV member school or learning institution..
Completed nominations must reach the ICTEV office by Friday October 25, 2013.

Nominations may also be forwarded to: ictev@ictev.vic.edu.au by Friday Oct 25, 2013. For more information on the awards and application process click here.

Top 100 tools for learning

What would you add to this list or remove? Worth a discussion. A good list to get teachers and students investigating.


Closing the achievement gap in a high-poverty school

High poverty. High performing. These are two phrases that describe Hattie Watts Elementary today — but it wasn’t always that way writes  Niki P Fryou.

When I became assistant principal in 2006, there were large gaps between the performance of our white students and our black students and economically-disadvantaged students. One reason was a persistent lack of belief in our students. When someone would say our students should be performing at higher levels, some community members, faculty members and even parents would say: “We’re not an affluent community, like so-and-so. Our kids face real challenges at home and at school. They can’t be expected to achieve at the same level as those kids.”

To dispel this negative stereotyping, our leadership team and faculty told our school community it didn’t matter if our students came from an impoverished or affluent community. If you show children you believe in them, they can and will achieve. When I became principal the following year, I set out to instill that belief schoolwide. As a result, we’ve made significant progress and continue to earn accolades today. Read the Article

Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

At the University of Pennsylvania, Angela Lee Duckworth studies intangible concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict both academic and professional success


TedTalks Education

To explore ideas, TED, WNET, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have teamed up for a brand-new one-hour special, shown on US television. TED Talks Education is an exhilarating night of talks hosted by John Legend. Check it out online. One hour if viewing over the holidays


What are they up to in Texas with digital learning?

As the education world embrases technology it is always good to see how others are doing it. I promise if you can get  by the ad on this blog

Image of child with an ipad from the KXAN Report on the KXAN site

Image of child with an ipad from the KXAN Report on the KXAN site

video from Texas TV channel KXAN it almost feels like home. I also am impressed how the reporter did really describe theeducational purpose “Beyond just fun” in the report. They make good discussion about parent concerns.  A good view really. Go to the report