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Pedagogies Assessment 1                          Page 1 of 10



Change has been said to be the only constant by many, with the quote thought to originate
from the philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus. As a principle in modern society it becomes
increasingly relevant with each passing year. It is especially relevant within the
Australian education system in the 21st century as we move toward national curriculum
and national ‘high-stakes’ testing.


The national curriculum is planned to impact every key learning area (KLA) over the next
decade (ACARA, 2010). There is currently no national curriculum discussion for the
method 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 where
appropriate.


Curricula in Australia are the government-driven documents defining teaching and
learning for school students. The aim of teaching is said to be to help students get to the
point where they can independently do what they have been learning (Riordan, 2005).
Curricula are the highest-level plans aimed at ensuring students achieve learning
outcomes. They address KLA specific elements such as knowledge and skills as well as
broader outcomes including values and attitudes. Some elements of knowledge are seen
as ‘cross-curricular’ in nature. These are addressed in many or all curricula, even though
they naturally fit within a specific KLA. Examples in the current curriculum include
students developing in terms of civics, diversity, literacy and numeracy. The planned
national curriculum places particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander
issues, Asian engagement and sustainability (ACARA, 2010).


It has been decided at a government level that the various states in Australia are to be
united in education through a national curriculum. It is noted that curriculum
development is not an isolated education-based activity, there are also social, political and
economic drivers at play (Brady & Kennedy, 2010).


In principle, the national curriculum is seen as a welcome proposition; having multiple
curricula for a relatively small country is not seen as practical (McDonald, 2010). Despite
the in-principle approval, its introduction has been met with resistance. At a state


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Pedagogies Assessment 1                             Page 2 of 10



government level, it is felt that the planned national curriculum may compare
unfavourably 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 of
work prescribed. Significant differences exist between teaching times allocated in the
planned national curriculum and both the existing hours from the NSW BOS syllabi and
the hours for which departments are staffed (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). In both
comparisons the planned national curriculum exceeds existing hours by substantial
amounts. This proposes resourcing issues, for example in the mathematics KLA that is
already an area of staff-shortage.


In addition to resourcing, an increase in teaching times in these areas may of itself
improve subject-specific learning, but may conversely reduce the time available for study
in other areas (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). Hours are planned to increase in most
KLAs – including the ‘traditional’ core subjects (English, Mathematics, Science and
History) for which drafts exist. Such a change has the potential to significantly affect
those KLAs in areas yet to be drafted, especially ‘elective’ subjects such as computing
and commerce.


Excessive time allocations also present risks of content overload and subsequent student
disengagement (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). One proposed correction to this scenario
is a substantial reduction in the amount of content expected for each unit of time indicated
to writers. (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010).


Looking at potential advantages of the planned national curriculum, it is pointed out by
the responsible body ACARA that jurisdictions, systems and schools will be able to
implement the national curriculum tailored to their own requirements. It will be possible
to utilise teachers’ professional knowledge, tailor content to local areas and accommodate
individual differences (ACARA, 2010). Schools and teachers will be able to decide on
pedagogy (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


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Pedagogies Assessment 1                           Page 3 of 10



respectively. It is also of note is that an inherent advantage of a national curriculum will
by definition also enable a smoother transition for students and teachers alike when
transitioning between states.


Independently of education and curricula, society is changing at an ever-increasing
rate. Students do not expect their classrooms and learning methods to lag behind what
they experience in their homes and society. The introduction of technology into the
classroom 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 reveals
significant differences – students with personal laptops and mobile phones,
classrooms with interactive white boards and Internet connectivity. Problematic is that
while ICT may be integrating into the classroom, core activities of schools will need
to change for the integration to be successful (Hayes, 2007). This change has also
leading 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, explicitly
stating that young people need to be highly skilled in ICT (ACARA, 2010). Studies have
shown that learning will be revolutionised by depth, authenticity, challenge and
technological connectivity (Hallisey, 2007). The challenge is said to be great (Chambers,
2007). It is important that curriculum planners facilitate 21st century teaching and
learning, 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 read
about concepts in a text. Modern expectations include the same subject areas being
studied through observing video or engaging with them in simulations (Stier &
Laingen, 2010). Opportunities exist in the digital age for concepts to be represented in
innumerable ways, and even for traditionally textbook-intensive subjects to be taught
without textbooks (Stavrianeas, Stewart, & Harmer, 2008). Some even suggest that


                                       Pedagogies Assessment 1                           Page 3 of 10
Pedagogies Assessment 1                         Page 4 of 10




teaching 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 date
quickly in the 21st century. Today there exists a much broader selection of teaching
strategies, and we cannot imagine strategies and effects thereof on the dynamic but
unclear road ahead (Halverson & Smith, 2010). Whilst it is tempting to suggest that
curricula should be written with a technology focus, it needs to be considered that not
all schools are on an equal technological footing. Additionally, care needs to be taken
with regard to appropriate implementation of ICT focus in both curricula and
pedagogy, as there is a tendency for “doing” using ICT to overtake “knowing” subject
matter (Jedeskog & Nissen, 2004). Perhaps an appropriate recommendation would be
that to facilitate 21st century teaching and learning, curriculum should be largely
content-based. Such a direction permits teachers to choose pedagogy that best takes
utilises available technological support.


Finally to be addressed with regard to 21st century teaching and learning is the change in
the nature of knowledge. In the past a goal for many students was locating scarce
knowledge, the challenge for students today is sifting through the vast pool of knowledge,
analyzing it, and collaborating to solve problems (Chambers, 2007). Teaching students to
source and filter appropriate information through 21st century research methods could
thus be defined as an important 21st century goal throughout all curricula.


The modern data-obsessed world has impacted the teaching profession, and education
as a whole, in more an arguably more significant way than through its application in
the classroom. The ability to record and process any volume of data has brought with
it a significant change in the accountability applied to teaching. There exists a trend in
which student performance, school performance and thus teacher accountability is
moving toward being measured in terms of test scores. Unfortunately, it is the case
that teaching is not simply transmitting information, and learning is not simply
receiving information that can be tested (Cochran-Smith, 2006).



                                      Pedagogies Assessment 1                         Page 4 of 10
Pedagogies Assessment 1                          Page 5 of 10




One 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 loss
of learning time.


Assessment within regular curriculum is often less KLA-oriented than optimal due to
most KLAs forcing structured, written exams. Whilst the TAS syllabus directs study to be
undertaken in a project-oriented manner (BOS, 2010), the HSC exam is a written exam
testing large amounts of theory. This situation may exist as HSC exams are seen as
necessary by the Board of Studies in NSW to scale internal assessments, and are
relatively cost effective to assess. Elective KLAs such as computing with unique
instructional methods could perhaps follow the path of electives such as music and art
that employ KLA-specific external testing (in the form of major work & performance
marking) as a more appropriate method of final external assessment.


With time in elective KLAs likely to decrease if the national curriculum is implemented
as planned, the introduction of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and
Numeracy (NAPLAN) ‘high-stakes’ testing in addition to traditional testing has the
potential 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 curricular
form of how knowledge is taught (Au, 2011). To date, accountability issues have
perhaps not yet impacted Australian curriculum to the degree seen overseas, but there
are still significant effects being witnessed and suggested, including an increased
focus on literacy and numeracy in existing curricula (Masters, 2010).


One disappointing effect of high-stakes NAPLAN assessment could be that even if
elective subjects are kept in the curriculum, they may lose teacher focus. Whether the
curriculum is state or national, if teachers feel the testing does not align with the
curriculum it may be ignored (Masters, 2010). The most prevalent finding in the
empirical research in the U.S. is that high-stakes testing narrows the instructional
curriculum because, to varying degrees, teachers shape the content norms of their



                                       Pedagogies Assessment 1                          Page 5 of 10
Pedagogies Assessment 1                          Page 6 of 10



programs 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 significant
issues, as the content and skills required in electives are often largely outside the scope of
NAPLAN testing. This is especially so with regard to the computing KLA, which teaches
ITC 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 now
has a more prescriptive curriculum, and perhaps more significantly teachers have less
scope with lesson planning (Pollak, 2009). Such a problem may not eventuate for modern
Australian teachers using current methods, as the NAPLAN standardised testing is said to
be developed to reflect the modern curricula (Perso, 2009). That said, conflicting views
exist, with some identifying a gap existing between measurement and instruction (Wyatt-
Smith, 1998), especially for those teachers not using current methods (Perso, 2009). It
will be interesting to observe the effects over coming years due to the relative newness of
standardised testing in Australia, combined with the rollout of the national curriculum, to
see ongoing effects on teachers and students.


It is of note that approximately 90% of students have been found in NAPLAN testing to be
achieving at least the “minimum standards”, a percentage well above the national all-age
averages for literacy (Hempenstall, 2009). Benchmarks for these minimum standards are not
publicised; teachers and the community alike are not aware of what level of achievement is
represented. 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 actually
tests what it aims to test, or whether some components, for example literacy, are over
examined as they re-tested when testing numeracy (Perso,	
  2009).	
  	
  


The national curriculum is on the horizon, albeit suffering from continual delays, ICT is
advancing at unheralded rates providing a multiplicity of new methods and strategies and
the era of high-stakes assessment has arrived. Curriculum in this light is a target for
significant focus and scrutiny. Curriculum planners must focus on what students need to



                                         Pedagogies Assessment 1                          Page 6 of 10
Pedagogies Assessment 1                         Page 7 of 10



know, but also take into account that the 21st century environment is dynamic with regard
to both what is taught and how. Assessment is no longer just simply of students, but is of
students to assess teachers and schools, and this impacts teachers and the curriculum that
they teach. The path forward seems unclear, but if all stakeholders are willing to
contribute, to balance needs and to embrace change, education in Australia will continue
to prosper.




                                      Pedagogies Assessment 1                         Page 7 of 10
Pedagogies Assessment 1                                                 Page 8 of 10



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Pedagogies Assessment 1                                              Page 9 of 10




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                                                       Pedagogies Assessment 1                                              Page 9 of 10
Pedagogies Assessment 1                                    Page 10 of 10




Wyatt-­‐Smith,	
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          Australia(122),	
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                                                Pedagogies Assessment 1                                    Page 10 of 10

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  • 1. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 1 of 10 Change has been said to be the only constant by many, with the quote thought to originate from the philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus. As a principle in modern society it becomes increasingly relevant with each passing year. It is especially relevant within the Australian education system in the 21st century as we move toward national curriculum and national ‘high-stakes’ testing. The national curriculum is planned to impact every key learning area (KLA) over the next decade (ACARA, 2010). There is currently no national curriculum discussion for the method 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 where appropriate. Curricula in Australia are the government-driven documents defining teaching and learning for school students. The aim of teaching is said to be to help students get to the point where they can independently do what they have been learning (Riordan, 2005). Curricula are the highest-level plans aimed at ensuring students achieve learning outcomes. They address KLA specific elements such as knowledge and skills as well as broader outcomes including values and attitudes. Some elements of knowledge are seen as ‘cross-curricular’ in nature. These are addressed in many or all curricula, even though they naturally fit within a specific KLA. Examples in the current curriculum include students developing in terms of civics, diversity, literacy and numeracy. The planned national curriculum places particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander issues, Asian engagement and sustainability (ACARA, 2010). It has been decided at a government level that the various states in Australia are to be united in education through a national curriculum. It is noted that curriculum development is not an isolated education-based activity, there are also social, political and economic drivers at play (Brady & Kennedy, 2010). In principle, the national curriculum is seen as a welcome proposition; having multiple curricula for a relatively small country is not seen as practical (McDonald, 2010). Despite the 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 10 government level, it is felt that the planned national curriculum may compare unfavourably 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 of work prescribed. Significant differences exist between teaching times allocated in the planned national curriculum and both the existing hours from the NSW BOS syllabi and the hours for which departments are staffed (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). In both comparisons the planned national curriculum exceeds existing hours by substantial amounts. This proposes resourcing issues, for example in the mathematics KLA that is already an area of staff-shortage. In addition to resourcing, an increase in teaching times in these areas may of itself improve subject-specific learning, but may conversely reduce the time available for study in other areas (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). Hours are planned to increase in most KLAs – including the ‘traditional’ core subjects (English, Mathematics, Science and History) for which drafts exist. Such a change has the potential to significantly affect those KLAs in areas yet to be drafted, especially ‘elective’ subjects such as computing and commerce. Excessive time allocations also present risks of content overload and subsequent student disengagement (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). One proposed correction to this scenario is a substantial reduction in the amount of content expected for each unit of time indicated to writers. (NSW_Board_of_Studies, 2010). Looking at potential advantages of the planned national curriculum, it is pointed out by the responsible body ACARA that jurisdictions, systems and schools will be able to implement the national curriculum tailored to their own requirements. It will be possible to utilise teachers’ professional knowledge, tailor content to local areas and accommodate individual differences (ACARA, 2010). Schools and teachers will be able to decide on pedagogy (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 10 respectively. It is also of note is that an inherent advantage of a national curriculum will by definition also enable a smoother transition for students and teachers alike when transitioning between states. Independently of education and curricula, society is changing at an ever-increasing rate. Students do not expect their classrooms and learning methods to lag behind what they experience in their homes and society. The introduction of technology into the classroom 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 reveals significant differences – students with personal laptops and mobile phones, classrooms with interactive white boards and Internet connectivity. Problematic is that while ICT may be integrating into the classroom, core activities of schools will need to change for the integration to be successful (Hayes, 2007). This change has also leading 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, explicitly stating that young people need to be highly skilled in ICT (ACARA, 2010). Studies have shown that learning will be revolutionised by depth, authenticity, challenge and technological connectivity (Hallisey, 2007). The challenge is said to be great (Chambers, 2007). It is important that curriculum planners facilitate 21st century teaching and learning, 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 read about concepts in a text. Modern expectations include the same subject areas being studied through observing video or engaging with them in simulations (Stier & Laingen, 2010). Opportunities exist in the digital age for concepts to be represented in innumerable ways, and even for traditionally textbook-intensive subjects to be taught without textbooks (Stavrianeas, Stewart, & Harmer, 2008). Some even suggest that Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 3 of 10
  • 4. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 4 of 10 teaching 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 date quickly in the 21st century. Today there exists a much broader selection of teaching strategies, and we cannot imagine strategies and effects thereof on the dynamic but unclear road ahead (Halverson & Smith, 2010). Whilst it is tempting to suggest that curricula should be written with a technology focus, it needs to be considered that not all schools are on an equal technological footing. Additionally, care needs to be taken with regard to appropriate implementation of ICT focus in both curricula and pedagogy, as there is a tendency for “doing” using ICT to overtake “knowing” subject matter (Jedeskog & Nissen, 2004). Perhaps an appropriate recommendation would be that to facilitate 21st century teaching and learning, curriculum should be largely content-based. Such a direction permits teachers to choose pedagogy that best takes utilises available technological support. Finally to be addressed with regard to 21st century teaching and learning is the change in the nature of knowledge. In the past a goal for many students was locating scarce knowledge, the challenge for students today is sifting through the vast pool of knowledge, analyzing it, and collaborating to solve problems (Chambers, 2007). Teaching students to source and filter appropriate information through 21st century research methods could thus be defined as an important 21st century goal throughout all curricula. The modern data-obsessed world has impacted the teaching profession, and education as a whole, in more an arguably more significant way than through its application in the classroom. The ability to record and process any volume of data has brought with it a significant change in the accountability applied to teaching. There exists a trend in which student performance, school performance and thus teacher accountability is moving toward being measured in terms of test scores. Unfortunately, it is the case that teaching is not simply transmitting information, and learning is not simply receiving information that can be tested (Cochran-Smith, 2006). Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 4 of 10
  • 5. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 5 of 10 One 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 loss of learning time. Assessment within regular curriculum is often less KLA-oriented than optimal due to most KLAs forcing structured, written exams. Whilst the TAS syllabus directs study to be undertaken in a project-oriented manner (BOS, 2010), the HSC exam is a written exam testing large amounts of theory. This situation may exist as HSC exams are seen as necessary by the Board of Studies in NSW to scale internal assessments, and are relatively cost effective to assess. Elective KLAs such as computing with unique instructional methods could perhaps follow the path of electives such as music and art that employ KLA-specific external testing (in the form of major work & performance marking) as a more appropriate method of final external assessment. With time in elective KLAs likely to decrease if the national curriculum is implemented as planned, the introduction of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) ‘high-stakes’ testing in addition to traditional testing has the potential 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 curricular form of how knowledge is taught (Au, 2011). To date, accountability issues have perhaps not yet impacted Australian curriculum to the degree seen overseas, but there are still significant effects being witnessed and suggested, including an increased focus on literacy and numeracy in existing curricula (Masters, 2010). One disappointing effect of high-stakes NAPLAN assessment could be that even if elective subjects are kept in the curriculum, they may lose teacher focus. Whether the curriculum is state or national, if teachers feel the testing does not align with the curriculum it may be ignored (Masters, 2010). The most prevalent finding in the empirical research in the U.S. is that high-stakes testing narrows the instructional curriculum 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 10 programs 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 significant issues, as the content and skills required in electives are often largely outside the scope of NAPLAN testing. This is especially so with regard to the computing KLA, which teaches ITC 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 now has a more prescriptive curriculum, and perhaps more significantly teachers have less scope with lesson planning (Pollak, 2009). Such a problem may not eventuate for modern Australian teachers using current methods, as the NAPLAN standardised testing is said to be developed to reflect the modern curricula (Perso, 2009). That said, conflicting views exist, with some identifying a gap existing between measurement and instruction (Wyatt- Smith, 1998), especially for those teachers not using current methods (Perso, 2009). It will be interesting to observe the effects over coming years due to the relative newness of standardised testing in Australia, combined with the rollout of the national curriculum, to see ongoing effects on teachers and students. It is of note that approximately 90% of students have been found in NAPLAN testing to be achieving at least the “minimum standards”, a percentage well above the national all-age averages for literacy (Hempenstall, 2009). Benchmarks for these minimum standards are not publicised; teachers and the community alike are not aware of what level of achievement is represented. 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 actually tests what it aims to test, or whether some components, for example literacy, are over examined as they re-tested when testing numeracy (Perso,  2009).     The national curriculum is on the horizon, albeit suffering from continual delays, ICT is advancing at unheralded rates providing a multiplicity of new methods and strategies and the era of high-stakes assessment has arrived. Curriculum in this light is a target for significant 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 10 know, but also take into account that the 21st century environment is dynamic with regard to both what is taught and how. Assessment is no longer just simply of students, but is of students to assess teachers and schools, and this impacts teachers and the curriculum that they teach. The path forward seems unclear, but if all stakeholders are willing to contribute, to balance needs and to embrace change, education in Australia will continue to prosper. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 7 of 10
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  • 10. Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 10 of 10 Wyatt-­‐Smith,  C.  (1998).  Standardised  Testing-­‐-­‐In  Whose  Interests?  English  in   Australia(122),  89-­‐93.       Pedagogies Assessment 1 Page 10 of 10