Australia needs a ‘more adaptive’ education system – report

Australia needs a ‘more adaptive’ education system – report
A new report from the Grattan Institute has called for Australia’s education system to rethink the way it teaches students, supports teachers and runs schools.

The ‘Towards an adaptive education system in Australia’ report warned that Australia won't achieve excellence in school education unless policy makers give teachers the practical support they need to rigorously adapt and improve their practices.

Dr Peter Goss, school education program director at the Grattan Institute, said the ‘Review to Achieve Excellence in Australian Schools’, led by David Gonski, was “a reform opportunity that must be seized”.

“School education in this country faces three major challenges: to improve student learning in core academic areas; to better prepare young people for adult life; and to do so in a way that is fair for all,” Goss said.

To tackle these diverse challenges, the report suggested an “adaptive approach” whereby teachers, schools and systems use regular, accurate feedback to continuously improve their practice.

One way to do this, said the report, is to provide teachers and schools with better access to “small data”, data they trust, gathered regularly enough to track the progress of students over time.

“This does not mean more standardised tests but well-designed classroom assessment against a defined sequence of learning that identifies what students know now and what they need to learn next,” the report said.

Another area of improvement for schools identified in the report was for system leaders to ensure that schools and teachers have good access to the evidence about best practices, plus the time, tools, training and support to implement them in the classroom.

Another suggestion was for Australia to follow the lead of high-performing education systems such as Singapore and Hong Kong by making better use of the best teachers.

Goss said ‘master teachers’ should teach fewer classes and instead should spend more time teaching other teachers how to identify and practise the best ways to improve student performance.

“If we want to halt the decline and create a system of excellence that supports all students, we need a new approach to reform,” Goss said.

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