Scrapping ACARA and AITSL and introducing ‘Learning Progressions’

Next week the education ministers from federal, state and territory governments are meeting in Alice Springs. We understand the agenda includes consideration of the planned creation of a new body to replace ACARA and AITSL, to be dubbed the Australian Curriculum and Teaching Services (ACTS), which would be responsible for curriculum, assessment, reporting and teaching quality support and directed by state and territory educations ministers, and the federal education minister. 

The work of the national bodies impacts directly on the work of AEU members in schools across the nation and has professional and industrial ramifications. Changes should not be made without appropriate consultation with the AEU on behalf of the teaching profession.

We also understand the Education Council may consider endorsing further work on the development of ‘learning progressions’ from Foundation to Year 10.  Learning progressions are a way to outline student progress based on performance data of students.  They are separate from teacher judgements of student achievement based the curriculum standards and are not directly linked to those standards.  What’s worse is that they have no direct reference to the curriculum ‘as taught’ by individual teachers as they bring the formal curriculum to life in their classrooms.

Some states have already experimented with learning progressions, with Western Australia dropping them after significant complaints by teachers and parents, ultimately considering the approach as a resounding flop.  Efforts to roll out this approach were significantly scaled back in NSW last year after only a short time due to the huge workload involved.

One NSW teacher said there were 1000 indicators across seven so-called "sub elements" of literacy and numeracy for each child. He was spending one day a week doing data entry while a casual teacher took his class.

 The introduction of learning progressions, along with the existing NAPLAN regime, would cause a significant increase in teacher and principal workloads.

AEU presidents from around the nation have written to state and territory education ministers, and the federal education minister, expressing the profession’s grave concern about any move to undertake further work on learning progressions and to reject the proposed restructure of AITSL and ACARA. The failure for there to be any meaningful consultation about these proposals with the profession through the AEU is unacceptable. You can read the letter here

We will keep members updated as education ministers consider their position next week.

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