As you are aware, the Australian government is developing an Australian Curriculum.
This is part of a national agenda to deliver greater consistency in education standards of schools across Australia at the request of parents demanding this greater consistency due to increased mobility of families.
In addition, the Australian government has taken the opportunity to raise standards across the nation; content that was once taught in Year Eight for example, can be found in Years Six and Seven in many learning areas.
It is incumbent on schools to align reporting to parents of student learning with the national consistency approach. This means that we need to ensure that an ‘A’ describes the same quality of learning in every year group, as do all other grades, B, C, D, and E. Making this transition across the school is demanding; in the past each teacher distributed grades based on marks awarded for tests and assignments distributed normally for their class i.e. the top 25% of the class were awarded an ‘A’, the next 25% awarded a ‘B’, and so on, similar to when you went to school.
National consistency requires that grades are awarded against a common scale where a ‘C’ is awarded nationally to students who ‘demonstrate satisfactory achievement of what is expected for this year level’. This has meant that some students who have, in the past achieved ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades in their class are no longer achieving these high grades because their work – nationally – is not of a sufficient standard to be awarded high grades. Each teacher is required to adjust their own set of standards to a greater or lesser extent, in order for schools to gain this consistency across their school and across the nation.
It also means that in some subjects and some grades students might have to work a lot harder than previously to earn high grades. Some students in schools across the nation have been able to ‘breeze’ through school with little effort to achieve good grades and hence have a sense of ‘entitlement’ that good grades may be awarded for minimum effort. As teachers are having to adjust their thinking, so too are students, and their parents.
In secondary schools the implications are more profound. For subjects where students are streamed into ability levels (i.e. Science and Mathematics) consistency in awarding grades across the year level means that there will be some classes with predominantly students achieving ‘A’ and ’B’ grades and some classes with students achieving predominantly ‘C’ and ‘D’ grades. This is not to say that they are not able to achieve higher grades, but rather that they might need to work harder to earn them. Our strategy at MCC, is for teachers to provide students with a clear understanding of how to improve their grades and to then have high expectations that they will.
Many of you have been patient and understanding as we make this transition; after all, we are embracing the change for the betterment of student standards. This will over time, raise the standards at MCC and equip students to achieve their personal best. It will also provide them with learning and responsibility skills that will help them eventually access the Year 11 and 12 subjects of their choosing, and to meet WACE standards for graduation. This, in turn, will equip them for life and for increasing their employability in a world where this is becoming more challenging.
Finally, congratulations to the teachers at MCC for their remarkable efforts in moving towards consistency of standards and building rigour in their assessment tasks. There are difficulties and hard work required by schools in meeting requirements of the national agenda; to raise education standards and gain consistency in order to ensure that Australian students are globally competitive.
We are grateful for your support and ask that you continue to encourage us in the endeavours currently being faced by Mundaring Christian College and schools across the nation.