Why we continue to get it so wrong

I couldn’t let the year end without some commentary on the Higher School Certificate (HSC). In addition to post-HSC coverage in the media, it was the talking sign outside of a large high school that strengthened my resolve that we need transformation not improvement. The sign read ‘celebrating our HSC results’. While it appears fairly innocuous, the focus is misplaced. The whole reason for schools existing is not results, but the growth of the individual child.

All of this follows on from the point I made recently regarding PISA and why we continue to get it so wrong. There are approximately 75.000 students who sit the NSW HSC. What happens at the end is a reduction of learning to a simple rank that is often misunderstood as a mark. Sadly, the high achieving high schools then become the gold standard. The problem is as one letter writer pointed out in the SMH last week, the list of schools, ‘makes people feel inadequate…it’s an unfair competition. It is a school [James Ruse High] that if it was a sport, would be disqualified because it’s on academic steroids.’

As the year comes to a close, my desire is that good theory, practice and evidence finally silences the detractors. We need to accept that the HSC needs to be abolished and a whole new curriculum framework is needed in today’s world. I actually don’t believe this is too difficult given we have had a decade of voices like Sir Ken Robinson et al. and numerous practitioners who have illustrated how the current factory model of schooling is doing more harm than good to the creative and curious minds of young people. 

And that’s where I’ll be focussing my energies at the beginning of a new decade. And on that final note for 2019, I wish you a Merry Christmas and thank those who have taken the time to read, comment and subscribe to the blog. Your feedback continues to challenge and shape my ideas and professional learning.

Until the New Year, safe travels.

5 thoughts on “Why we continue to get it so wrong

  1. Well said

    Did you pick up the ACT BSSS opted not to play the media game and did not make a thing of the top ATARs?

    Have a great and well earned Xmas

    Mal >

  2. Couldn’t agree more…the High School Certificate (HCS) in in entirety…the curriculum design, the associated assessment processes…particularly the exams construct, and the certification should ALL be abolished. In addition, and just as culpable is the whole Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) process which subsequently takes the HSC results and produces the single number to rank students. It is nothing reductionist and stressful for students and provides absolutely no evidence, nor portfolio, of a students actual interests, passions and strengths. The evidence though we do find though is health related, where we are seeing increases in stress related health issues.

    The High School Certificate (HCS) and Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) process are way past their “use by date”. Now is the time to throw them out!! Now is the time for education system, both K-12 and tertiary to remove them from processes and implement new models based upon partnerships that promote learning celebration, not competition.

  3. Removing the HSC and not laptop computers and mobile phones as well, would be disastrous.
    Too much emphasis on devices and less on the teacher has resulted in poorer literacy and numeracy.

    Teachers are the centre of excellence, given the ATAR for Teaching is raised to 85 and the salaries adjusted to match.

  4. OK so I agree with your ‘rage’ on the current situation however let’s frame the end goal and set up the student ‘journey’. End goal – confident and capable learners able to articulate their capacities relative to a current and relational skill sets and dispositions AND able also to articulate how they propose to exceed those sets given their passions and personal ‘becomings’. Unless we change to goal posts we are restricting amazing young people to being less than what they can be. Education after all should seek to bring out – ‘educare’ – of the student all that they can be as learners for the mutual benefit of the global community. AND it starts with our youngest students. This is not just an educational opportunity switched on when students are pre-HSC. It’s to start at enrolment when our parents invest their children into our care.

  5. This mindset needs to be more widespread across our communities.

    I am looking forward to embracing the opportunities for our students at CathWest Innovation College – school done differently in 2020. It will be an education that supports and encourages the interests and passions of our students with an entrepreneurial mindset as well as building a curious mindset whereby many pathways are explored.

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