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  • 1. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 1 of 10Change has been said to be the only constant by many, with the quote thought to originatefrom the philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus. As a principle in modern society it becomesincreasingly relevant with each passing year. It is especially relevant within theAustralian education system in the 21st century as we move toward national curriculumand national ‘high-stakes’ testing.The national curriculum is planned to impact every key learning area (KLA) over the nextdecade (ACARA, 2010). There is currently no national curriculum discussion for themethod areas being studied by the author of this paper (Technology and Applied Studies -Computing and Human Society and Its Environment – Commerce / Business Studies).Experiences of the planned national curriculum on other KLAs will be referenced whereappropriate.Curricula in Australia are the government-driven documents defining teaching andlearning for school students. The aim of teaching is said to be to help students get to thepoint where they can independently do what they have been learning (Riordan, 2005).Curricula are the highest-level plans aimed at ensuring students achieve learningoutcomes. They address KLA specific elements such as knowledge and skills as well asbroader outcomes including values and attitudes. Some elements of knowledge are seenas ‘cross-curricular’ in nature. These are addressed in many or all curricula, even thoughthey naturally fit within a specific KLA. Examples in the current curriculum includestudents developing in terms of civics, diversity, literacy and numeracy. The plannednational curriculum places particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanderissues, Asian engagement and sustainability (ACARA, 2010).It has been decided at a government level that the various states in Australia are to beunited in education through a national curriculum. It is noted that curriculumdevelopment is not an isolated education-based activity, there are also social, political andeconomic drivers at play (Brady & Kennedy, 2010).In principle, the national curriculum is seen as a welcome proposition; having multiplecurricula for a relatively small country is not seen as practical (McDonald, 2010). Despitethe in-principle approval, its introduction has been met with resistance. At a state Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 1 of 10
  • 2. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 2 of 10government level, it is felt that the planned national curriculum may compareunfavourably with existing curriculum. If the national curriculum does not reach the‘level’ of existing state curriculum NSW is reticent to sign up (McDonald, 2010).A key issue sought with existing drafts of the national curriculum is the larger volume ofwork prescribed. Significant differences exist between teaching times allocated in theplanned national curriculum and both the existing hours from the NSW BOS syllabi andthe hours for which departments are staffed (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). In bothcomparisons the planned national curriculum exceeds existing hours by substantialamounts. This proposes resourcing issues, for example in the mathematics KLA that isalready an area of staff-shortage.In addition to resourcing, an increase in teaching times in these areas may of itselfimprove subject-specific learning, but may conversely reduce the time available for studyin other areas (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). Hours are planned to increase in mostKLAs – including the ‘traditional’ core subjects (English, Mathematics, Science andHistory) for which drafts exist. Such a change has the potential to significantly affectthose KLAs in areas yet to be drafted, especially ‘elective’ subjects such as computingand commerce.Excessive time allocations also present risks of content overload and subsequent studentdisengagement (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). One proposed correction to this scenariois a substantial reduction in the amount of content expected for each unit of time indicatedto writers. (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010).Looking at potential advantages of the planned national curriculum, it is pointed out bythe responsible body ACARA that jurisdictions, systems and schools will be able toimplement the national curriculum tailored to their own requirements. It will be possibleto utilise teachers’ professional knowledge, tailor content to local areas and accommodateindividual differences (ACARA, 2010). Schools and teachers will be able to decide onpedagogy (ACARA, 2010), much as they do today with the state-developed curriculum.This is particularly advantageous with elective KLAs such as computing and commerce,which are currently defined by unique strategy orientations, project and report-based Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 2 of 10
  • 3. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 3 of 10respectively. It is also of note is that an inherent advantage of a national curriculum willby definition also enable a smoother transition for students and teachers alike whentransitioning between states.Independently of education and curricula, society is changing at an ever-increasingrate. Students do not expect their classrooms and learning methods to lag behind whatthey experience in their homes and society. The introduction of technology into theclassroom was inevitable, and came with much promise (Halverson & Smith, 2010).Most modern classrooms closely resemble those of yesteryear on a superficial level –there is still a teacher, students, desks and chairs. A more thorough inspection revealssignificant differences – students with personal laptops and mobile phones,classrooms with interactive white boards and Internet connectivity. Problematic is thatwhile ICT may be integrating into the classroom, core activities of schools will needto change for the integration to be successful (Hayes, 2007). This change has alsoleading to a change in teacher roles and responsibilities (Aslan, Huh, Lee, &Reigeluth, 2010); such activities are often entrenched in the curriculum.ACARA acknowledge the importance of the changing the ways people share, use,develop and process information and technology due to rapid advances in ICT, explicitlystating that young people need to be highly skilled in ICT (ACARA, 2010). Studies haveshown that learning will be revolutionised by depth, authenticity, challenge andtechnological connectivity (Hallisey, 2007). The challenge is said to be great (Chambers,2007). It is important that curriculum planners facilitate 21st century teaching andlearning, as it will not happen by accident, but it will need to happen by design (Hallisey,2007).It is often no longer considered sufficient by students or teachers for students to readabout concepts in a text. Modern expectations include the same subject areas beingstudied through observing video or engaging with them in simulations (Stier &Laingen, 2010). Opportunities exist in the digital age for concepts to be represented ininnumerable ways, and even for traditionally textbook-intensive subjects to be taughtwithout textbooks (Stavrianeas, Stewart, & Harmer, 2008). Some even suggest that Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 3 of 10
  • 4. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 4 of 10teaching is simply not effective without appropriate technological resource facilitation(Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010).Process-based curricula focusing on explaining how teachers are to teach will datequickly in the 21st century. Today there exists a much broader selection of teachingstrategies, and we cannot imagine strategies and effects thereof on the dynamic butunclear road ahead (Halverson & Smith, 2010). Whilst it is tempting to suggest thatcurricula should be written with a technology focus, it needs to be considered that notall schools are on an equal technological footing. Additionally, care needs to be takenwith regard to appropriate implementation of ICT focus in both curricula andpedagogy, as there is a tendency for “doing” using ICT to overtake “knowing” subjectmatter (Jedeskog & Nissen, 2004). Perhaps an appropriate recommendation would bethat to facilitate 21st century teaching and learning, curriculum should be largelycontent-based. Such a direction permits teachers to choose pedagogy that best takesutilises available technological support.Finally to be addressed with regard to 21st century teaching and learning is the change inthe nature of knowledge. In the past a goal for many students was locating scarceknowledge, the challenge for students today is sifting through the vast pool of knowledge,analyzing it, and collaborating to solve problems (Chambers, 2007). Teaching students tosource and filter appropriate information through 21st century research methods couldthus be defined as an important 21st century goal throughout all curricula.The modern data-obsessed world has impacted the teaching profession, and educationas a whole, in more an arguably more significant way than through its application inthe classroom. The ability to record and process any volume of data has brought withit a significant change in the accountability applied to teaching. There exists a trend inwhich student performance, school performance and thus teacher accountability ismoving toward being measured in terms of test scores. Unfortunately, it is the casethat teaching is not simply transmitting information, and learning is not simplyreceiving information that can be tested (Cochran-Smith, 2006). Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 4 of 10
  • 5. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 5 of 10One effect of this practice is that there is less time for teaching. Time spent on testing –and the associated preparation, practice tests and strategies – is time taken from teaching(Nichols & Parsons, 2010). Students suffer directly from testing, due directly to the lossof learning time.Assessment within regular curriculum is often less KLA-oriented than optimal due tomost KLAs forcing structured, written exams. Whilst the TAS syllabus directs study to beundertaken in a project-oriented manner (BOS, 2010), the HSC exam is a written examtesting large amounts of theory. This situation may exist as HSC exams are seen asnecessary by the Board of Studies in NSW to scale internal assessments, and arerelatively cost effective to assess. Elective KLAs such as computing with uniqueinstructional methods could perhaps follow the path of electives such as music and artthat employ KLA-specific external testing (in the form of major work & performancemarking) as a more appropriate method of final external assessment.With time in elective KLAs likely to decrease if the national curriculum is implementedas planned, the introduction of the National Assessment Program – Literacy andNumeracy (NAPLAN) ‘high-stakes’ testing in addition to traditional testing has thepotential to affect elective KLAs further. Such a pattern has already been seen in the US,where non-tested subjects are sidelined or are pushed out of the curriculum altogether,with high-stakes testing also seen as being responsible for standardising the curricularform of how knowledge is taught (Au, 2011). To date, accountability issues haveperhaps not yet impacted Australian curriculum to the degree seen overseas, but thereare still significant effects being witnessed and suggested, including an increasedfocus on literacy and numeracy in existing curricula (Masters, 2010).One disappointing effect of high-stakes NAPLAN assessment could be that even ifelective subjects are kept in the curriculum, they may lose teacher focus. Whether thecurriculum is state or national, if teachers feel the testing does not align with thecurriculum it may be ignored (Masters, 2010). The most prevalent finding in theempirical research in the U.S. is that high-stakes testing narrows the instructionalcurriculum because, to varying degrees, teachers shape the content norms of their Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 5 of 10
  • 6. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 6 of 10programs to match that of the high-stakes tests (Au, 2011; Measham, 2010). More simply,teachers “teach to the tests”. With regard to elective KLAs, this is likely cause significantissues, as the content and skills required in electives are often largely outside the scope ofNAPLAN testing. This is especially so with regard to the computing KLA, which teachesITC literacy and skills that are clearly seen as important in the 21st century (ACARA,2010; Hallisey, 2007), but are untested by NAPLAN.Due to the effects of standardised testing, the education system in the United States nowhas a more prescriptive curriculum, and perhaps more significantly teachers have lessscope with lesson planning (Pollak, 2009). Such a problem may not eventuate for modernAustralian teachers using current methods, as the NAPLAN standardised testing is said tobe developed to reflect the modern curricula (Perso, 2009). That said, conflicting viewsexist, with some identifying a gap existing between measurement and instruction (Wyatt-Smith, 1998), especially for those teachers not using current methods (Perso, 2009). Itwill be interesting to observe the effects over coming years due to the relative newness ofstandardised testing in Australia, combined with the rollout of the national curriculum, tosee ongoing effects on teachers and students.It is of note that approximately 90% of students have been found in NAPLAN testing to beachieving at least the “minimum standards”, a percentage well above the national all-ageaverages for literacy (Hempenstall, 2009). Benchmarks for these minimum standards are notpublicised; teachers and the community alike are not aware of what level of achievement isrepresented. Not only does this lack of transparency hamper the use of results in education,but it provides the potential for governments to manipulate the data to be seen as effective(Hempenstall, 2009). There are also significant questions over whether NAPLAN actuallytests what it aims to test, or whether some components, for example literacy, are overexamined as they re-tested when testing numeracy (Perso,  2009).    The national curriculum is on the horizon, albeit suffering from continual delays, ICT isadvancing at unheralded rates providing a multiplicity of new methods and strategies andthe era of high-stakes assessment has arrived. Curriculum in this light is a target forsignificant focus and scrutiny. Curriculum planners must focus on what students need to Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 6 of 10
  • 7. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 7 of 10know, but also take into account that the 21st century environment is dynamic with regardto both what is taught and how. Assessment is no longer just simply of students, but is ofstudents to assess teachers and schools, and this impacts teachers and the curriculum thatthey teach. The path forward seems unclear, but if all stakeholders are willing tocontribute, to balance needs and to embrace change, education in Australia will continueto prosper. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 7 of 10
  • 8. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 8 of 10References  ACARA,  A.  C.,  Assessment  and  Reporting  Authority.  (2010).  The  Shape  of  the   Australian  Curriculum.  2.0.    Aslan,  S.,  Huh,  Y.,  Lee,  D.,  &  Reigeluth,  C.  M.  (2010).  The  role  of  personalized   integrated  educational  systems  in  the  information-­‐age  paradigm  of  education.   Paper  presented  at  the  The  Annual  Convention  of  the  Association  for   Educational  Communications  and  Technology,  Anaheim,  CA.    Au,  W.  (2011).  Teaching  under  the  new  Taylorism:  high‚Äêstakes  testing  and  the   standardization  of  the  21st  century  curriculum.  Journal  of  Curriculum  Studies,   43(1),  25-­‐45.  doi:  10.1080/00220272.2010.521261  BOS,  B.  o.  S.  N.  (2010).  Information  and  Techology  Processes  Syllabus  2010.  Brady,  L.,  &  Kennedy,  K.  (2010).  The  school  curriculum  and  its  stakeholders:  who   owns  the  curriculum?  Sydney:  Pearson  Australia.  Chambers,  J.  (2007).  21st-­‐century  Mindset,  Editorial,  Community  College  Journal,  pp.   11-­‐11.  Retrieved  from t=true&db=ehh&AN=31976464&site=ehost-live&scope=site  Cochran-­‐Smith,  M.  (2006).  Ten  Promising  Trends  (and  Three  Big  Worries).   Educational  Leadership,  63(6),  20-­‐25.    Ertmer,  P.  A.,  &  Ottenbreit-­‐Leftwich,  A.  T.  (2010).  Teacher  Technology  Change:  How   Knowledge,  Confidence,  Beliefs,  and  Culture  Intersect.  Journal  of  Research  on   Technology  in  Education,  42(3),  255-­‐284.    Hallisey,  R.  (2007).  Its  a  Plan:  Education  for  21st-­‐century  Teaching  and  Learning.   Teacher:  The  National  Education  Magazine,  40-­‐43.    Halverson,  R.,  &  Smith,  A.  (2010).  How  New  Technologies  Have  (and  Have  Not)   Changed  Teaching  and  Learning  in  Schools.  Journal  of  Computing  in  Teacher   Education,  26(2),  49-­‐54.     Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 8 of 10
  • 9. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 9 of 10Hayes,  D.  N.  A.  (2007).  ICT  and  learning:  Lessons  from  Australian  classrooms.   Computers  &  Education,  49(2),  385-­‐395.  doi:   10.1016/j.compedu.2005.09.003  Hempenstall,  K.  (2009).  Research-­‐Driven  Reading  Assessment:  Drilling  to  the  Core.   Australian  Journal  of  Learning  Difficulties,  14(1),  17-­‐52.    Holden,  S.  (2010).  Testing  Times  in  May.  Teacher:  The  National  Education  Magazine,   62.    Jedeskog,  G.,  &  Nissen,  J.  (2004).  ICT  in  the  Classroom  :    Is  Doing  More  Important   than  Knowing?  Education  and  Information  Technologies,  9:1,  37-­‐45.    Masters,  G.  (2010).  NAPLAN  and  My  School  Shedding  Light  on  a  Work  in  Progress.   Teacher:  The  National  Education  Magazine,  22-­‐25.    McDonald,  T.  (2010).  NSW  criticises  national  curriculum  plans.  The  World  Today     Retrieved  22/08/2011,  2011  Measham,  F.  (2010).  Why  NAPLAN  Boycott  Must  Happen.  Eureka  Street,  20(8),  33-­‐ 34.    Nichols,  S.,  &  Parsons,  J.  (2010).  Enhancing  Democracy  for  Teachers:  Online   Submission.  NSW_Board_of_Studies.  (2010).  NSW  response  to  the  draft  K–10  Australian   curriculum  for  English,  History,  Mathematics  and  Science.  Perso,  T.  (2009).  Cracking  the  NAPLAN  Code:  Numeracy  and  Literacy  Demands.   Australian  Primary  Mathematics  Classroom,  14(3),  14-­‐18.    Pollak,  C.  J.  (2009).  Teacher  Empowerment  and  Collaboration  Enhances  Student   Engagement  in  Data-­‐Driven  Environments:  Online  Submission.  Riordan,  T.  (2005).  EDUCATION  FOR  THE  21ST  CENTURY:  TEACHING,  LEARNING,   AND  ASSESSMENT.  Change,  37,  52-­‐52-­‐56.  Stavrianeas,  S.,  Stewart,  M.,  &  Harmer,  P.  (2008).  Beyond  the  Printed  Page:   Physiology  Education  without  a  Textbook?  Advances  in  Physiology  Education,   32(1),  76-­‐80.    Stier,  K.,  &  Laingen,  M.  (2010).  Using  Simulation  to  Introduce  Engineering  Concepts.   Technology  and  Engineering  Teacher,  70(3),  20-­‐26.     Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 9 of 10
  • 10. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 10 of 10Wyatt-­‐Smith,  C.  (1998).  Standardised  Testing-­‐-­‐In  Whose  Interests?  English  in   Australia(122),  89-­‐93.       Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 10 of 10