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City Observer Newsletter 15 August 2019 15, August 2019

City Observer Newsletter 15 August 2019

This week has seen schools leaders involved in lengthy training sessions about online NAPLAN testing. This has been postponed from being compulsorily online in 2020, to being again voluntary, school by school, at least partly because of concerned raised by the trialing schools earlier this, and possibly by the Teachers Education Union. I attended a day’s session with Mrs Frisby on Monday, and I have to tell you it was long, detailed, and I was itching to get moving. It looks to me to be a complicated process, that aims to have schools receive their students’ results very quickly which will allow them to use this data for an individual child’s learning gains and progress. I wholeheartedly agree with this aim, however, the logistics of the process are very complicated, and in an electronic environment, there may be ‘glitches’ perhaps. We shall see.

Maybe ironically, the ATAR system for Year 12, 2020 assessment for tertiary education ranking and Qld Certificate of Education, relies heavily on examinations (50% is examination in Term 4 Science and Mathematics subjects, and 25% in other subjects) that will be pen and paper tests, by and large. Each subject will have three school run internal Assessment Tasks, mostly one of which will be another examination with varying conditions for the testing, but mostly utilizing pen and paper format. So the new system for tertiary entrance ranking purposes for our oldest school students, will mostly be in pen and paper, except for Assignment Tasks. NAPLAN for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students is simultaneously going for quick turnaround, catchy electronic format manipulation by the younger children. From what I saw, NAPLAN testing electronically would be engaging for most (subject to electronic phantoms playing around with the electronic environment); but senior Years testing focuses on pen on paper. It is an interesting conundrum we have in Australian and Queensland schooling. We are moving with the times, but the direction seems somewhat uncharted.

For me, having Book Week around the corner remains one of schools’ delightful experiences. The book by Shaun Tan, Cicadas, is one which I ‘played’ via video at School Assembly on Wednesday because it has beautiful but challenging artwork and design; and the theme of the book is about valuing the individual skills and traits of people, rather than being harsh, critical and unkind. Maybe different people have very different skills that will be very valuable. There is also Shaun Tan’s playful Asian language in fractured English for a highly able main character whose appearance is deceptive, to bring a smile. It is a thought provoking book for all, despite its apparent darkness but which leads to a happy and memorable conclusion. Book Week is flying towards us very quickly, a traditional and highly valuable activity for learning and fun.

Dr Dirk Wellham – Principal

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