Aus: 'Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority must rewrite draft curriculum: Alan Tudge'

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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Aus: 'Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority must rewrite draft curriculum: Alan Tudge'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Wed Aug 18, 2021 11:01 pm

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority must rewrite draft curriculum: Alan Tudge

Rebecca Urban

8:42PM AUGUST 18, 2021

Education Minister Alan Tudge says the board of the country’s schooling authority must substantially rewrite its draft national curriculum, warning he will not endorse the proposed document amid concern student outcomes would be harmed.

Writing to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s acting chairman Norm Hart, Mr Tudge criticised the proposal for supporting “ideology over evidence” and presenting an “overly negative view” of the nation in the study of history and civics.

In the letter, seen by The Australian, Mr Tudge urged the board to seriously consider recent feedback from education experts, who have flagged concerns that the proposed changes amounted to a weakening of learning standards.

“Some of these groups, such as Australia’s peak mathematics association, believe that the current draft will take Australian kids backwards,” he wrote. “If the current draft is simply tweaked, it will not be supported. It needs fundamental changes.”

The warning comes as the ACARA board meets on Thursday and Friday to discuss feedback to the highly anticipated update of the Australian Curriculum – an important document laying out what students are expected to learn across the mandated subject areas of English, maths, science, the arts, humanities, health and physical education and languages.

The curriculum also seeks to cover general capabilities, or skills, such as critical and creative thinking, as well as ensure young people develop an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. Its release in April, however, sparked a torrent of criticism, including from high-profile historians, academics and reading specialists.

Among the most scathing criticism was from the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, whose membership spans leading universities, government agencies and industry, which called for any ongoing review of the maths curriculum to be halted pending further consultation.

The institute was particularly critical of a proposed push towards having students learn maths by engaging in open-ended problem-solving activities, noting that “mastery of mathematical approaches is needed before student problem-solving can be effective”.

Video: Education in Australia is now a ‘propaganda exercise’

Under way for more than a year, ACARA’s curriculum review was launched in the wake of Australia’s declining performance on the OECD’s PISA, which has shown that Australian students have gone backwards in reading, maths and science over the past 20 years.

According to Mr Tudge, the curriculum should seek to be ambitious on students’ learning outcomes and should prioritise evidence-based practices, particularly in reading and maths.

“However, to my great frustration, evidence-based practices have not been consistently embedded in your current draft,” he said. “There is still too much emphasis on whole-language learning of reading and insufficient emphasis on phonics.

“Thirty years ago, determining the best way to teach reading may have been a legitimate debate, but it is not now. The evidence is crystal clear … that the teaching of phonics is vital.”

The minister also urged the ACARA board to re-examine the draft history and civics curriculum to ensure that it provided a balanced teaching of Australia’s liberal democracy that has made the nation attractive to millions of migrants.

“Your draft, however, diminishes Australia’s western, liberal, and democratic values,” Mr Tudge said. “The overarching impression from the curriculum is that the main feature of western civilisation is slavery, imperialism and colonisation.

“Important historical events are removed or reframed, such as the emphasis on invasion theory over Australia Day. Even Anzac Day is presented as a contested idea, rather than the most sacred of all days where we honour the millions of men and women who have served in war, and the 100,000 who gave their lives for our freedom.”

Referencing the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Tudge said the education system had “been shaken in the last 18 months … in ways we had never imagined”.

“I believe that the best way to serve the interests of our young people now is to seize every opportunity to lift educational standards,” he said.

“The draft of the Australian Curriculum is such an opportunity.”
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: Aus: 'Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority must rewrite draft curriculum: Alan Tudge'

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Fri Aug 20, 2021 12:45 am

Call for curriculum change welcomed

Max Maddison, The Australian, August 19, 2021

The country’s schooling auth­ority has welcomed calls from Education Minister Alan Tudge to substantially rewrite its draft nat­ional curriculum but an education policy expert says his correspondence represents an “extraordinary” intervention.

In a letter to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and ­Reporting Authority’s acting chairman Norm Hart, Mr Tudge criticised the document for supporting “ideology over evidence” and presenting the nation’s ­history and civics in an “overly negative view”.

ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho confirmed Mr Tudge had written to the ACARA chairman, saying he welcomed the minister’s input. “We definitely welcome that letter. It sets out very clearly a range of issues that Mr Tudge thinks needs to be ­addressed,” he said.


Mr de Carvalho said the authority had been aware of Mr Tudge’s concerns for some time and “these are also issues that have come through in the general consultation feedback”.

“They are very much on the board’s radar and the board will be considering all that feedback. We have a meeting this week where feedback will start being considered. The minister’s correspondence … is welcomed.”

The updated Australian curriculum will lay out what students are expected to learn across the mandated subject areas – English, maths, science, the arts, humanities, health and physical education and languages.

Centre of Independent Studies research fellow Glenn Fahey said while there were serious ­issues with the curriculum, primarily around how teachers teach reading and maths, the reform process needed to be consultative and should not be subject to “blatantly political and emotional responses”.

“It’s quite an extraordinary ­response from a federal education minister to respond in this way to the situation at hand. I fear it risks being a bit too hot off the collar when it comes to approaching the nature of this problem,” he said.

“What you don’t want to happen is for very legitimate concerns about some elements in the curriculum to be lost among the heated rhetoric.”

Jennifer Buckingham, director of strategy at literacy education firm MultiLit, said Mr Tudge was taking curriculum ­reform “very seriously” and wasn’t planning on simply waving the document through: “He’s ­really going to pay a lot of attention, because he’s very determined to do whatever he can to improve education standards.”

In his letter, Mr Tudge urged the ACARA board to make fundamental changes to the draft curriculum, including being more ambitious on students’ learning outcomes while prioritising ­evidence-based practices, especially in readings and maths.

“Some of these groups, such as Australia’s peak mathematics ­association, believe the current draft will take Australian kids backwards,” he wrote. “If the current draft is simply tweaked, it will not be supported. It needs fundamental changes.”

Grattan Institute education program director Jordana Hunter agreed the revised curriculum should be consistent with contemporary understandings of evidence-based teaching methods but said curriculum documents were no substitute for “real improvements” that would come from professional development, guidance and teacher support.

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