By John Fischetti, Professor, Professional Vice-Chancellor of the College of Human and Social Futures, University of Newcastle Callaghan (Australia), September 12 (The Conversation) Victoria and New South Wales scramble to plan for the end of school exams. Vaccination targets may not be met on time (for students or teachers), and there are other issues as well, such as children missing weeks of face-to-face schooling.
NSW has postponed its Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams until November. And while Victoria postponed her general pass test, she made no changes to her HSC equivalent, the VCE.
Some critics believe that the postponement of exams is not enough and call on states to completely eliminate end-of-school exams.
Both states have special consideration policies in place for scores impacted by COVID, but is it enough? And does this unique circumstance give us the opportunity to change the way end-of-school assessments are done? Two Schools of Thought Opinions about this year’s exams fall into two main schools of thought.
The first is that grade 12 students deserve to finish what they started. We spent 12 years convincing them of the importance of this milestone. Many students are concerned that if exams are canceled their path to college and beyond will be compromised using only their background. Some students advocate retaining exams for all of these reasons.
The alternative school of thought is that we have known for years that leaving school exams can cause debilitating stress for many young people. The extraordinary pressure of the process has tipped over to breaking point this year with so much time missed in schools.
We should therefore take the pressure off our children and work with vocational education and training providers and universities to accommodate them.
There have always been alternative routes to university and they have developed in recent years. We can use existing pathways that include subject-specific recruitment programs, main recommendations and portfolio entry.
There is already enough data in a student’s file to make an informed decision and allow admissions officers to move forward without this year’s exams. Maybe we can even consider eliminating them in the future with more time to do the math.
What is the rest of the world doing? Graduation exams have been canceled this year due to pandemic restrictions in the United States, France, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany. The exams were changed in Denmark, Israel and Austria, while Italy only organized oral exams.
The UK has canceled its A-level exams over the past two years, and in Finland students have been allowed to take their university entrance exams multiple times.
Most Asian countries have postponed their exams. Many experts in Western countries are arguing for a major change in the high-stakes assessment process, noting that universities adjusted their entry criteria in the first year of the pandemic and fared very well.
What are Australia’s options? Australian education officials and policymakers have three distinct options: 1. Keep the system we have and continue to improve it The first option – supported by most ministers of education and state regulators and territories – is that our reviews and degree of excellence and rigor. They have been refined by years of experience and completed by millions of students.
Continuing to improve assessments and the program that feeds them will ensure high standards and credibility for excellence rather than promoting a ‘lowering of the bar’. Over time, we may evolve new courses and assessments, incorporating more technology-based assessments as they are tested and validated for high volume state exam administrations.
2. Add a learner profile to the current system A second option – that of “learning profiles” – is based on the idea that we must broaden the skills that we value in young people, beyond those of the subjects. traditional academics. Skills for the future include critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration.
Digital platforms are being developed to host evidence of student engagement in the community and to store non-traditional forms of learning (including videos and other media) in online tools, thus creating a learner profile representing these authentic learning experiences. NSW says it will be doing trials next year, creating an “educational passport” for students.
3. Transforming the System with New Designs for Schooling and Assessment The Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta is transforming the use of data on student progress over the school years. Think of a car dashboard that has multiple dials and indicators, and imagine using that same approach to aggregate data about students and their learning journeys.
These tools can reliably predict student performance, allowing us to fine-tune our interventions to promote student success. With the use of predictive analytics, rather than waiting for end-of-school exam results, we can help students boost their future trajectories with immediate support and interventions.
The Education Diocese of Paramatta is in the early days of overhauling its schools to promote personal pathways and enable students to align their passions with their emerging skills. Stemming from a ‘go to learn’ concept Big Picture Learning Australia – a non-profit company transforming traditional education – offers internships focused on the passions of students at the heart of the high school experience. Teachers provide guidance that enables transdisciplinary learning instead of traditional lessons, all mapped to the curricula of the program’s key learning areas.
More than 40 schools across the country are in partnership with this model. Students develop portfolios of their learning to document their pathways, organizing their projects and assignments according to critical learning outcomes that are assessed in a cloud-based learning certificate. Almost 20 Australian universities already accept these portfolios and admissions credentials in lieu of graduation exams.
Our education system is built on 20th century (or earlier) teaching, learning and assessment models. COVID gives us the chance to do what we could already have done – move forward with a modern assessment model based on our current knowledge of learning. The goal is for all of our children to discover and reach their potential. (The Conversation) NSA
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)