One of the privileges for any school is to nurture the curiosity of young people so they contribute creatively for a better world. There are many who argue that the current school system struggles to do this. I am one of those. Mandated testing, the relentless pursuit for better grades and league-table comparison of results, limits the development of skills and capabilities required for a changing world.
In all the recent media about end of year results, I read about a school’s marks, ranks and where they sat on league-style tables between makes and females, public v private schools, last year to this year, etc.etc. However, I could not find any information a student’s ability to:
- Manage themselves
- Relate with others
- Communicate and collaborate with peers
- Think creatively and critically with experts
- Engage with digital platforms to solve a problems
- Witness in the way of Jesus.
A few days ago, Jenny Allum, principal of SCEGGS Darlinghurst, recently penned an article, As HSC students reflect on their marks, we must reflect on the HSC. In it she wrote, “There are many employers out there looking for people of creativity, strength and purpose, able to demonstrate skills in many different ways. Our society needs people with the most diverse set of skills and attributes possible.” She also expressed…
“It’s vital that we acknowledge and defend the underpinnings of education-the values we instil in our young people and a broad liberal education that focuses on specific disciplines but also on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship & divergent thinking.”
I agree. So, how does the HSC inform a student about their demonstrated ability in these areas? It doesn’t. How does the ATAR demonstrate how schools support students to develop these necessary capabilities? It doesn’t.
At St Luke’s Catholic College, we deeply believe that supporting each student to nurture social skills and enterprise capabilities is what will serve them best for a changing world. This is demonstrated through our commitment to the St Luke’s 6 Pillars of Learning. Each time we program, each time we assess and the many times we provide feedback to students, we embed references to the the Pillars as a part of the learning. Furthermore, teachers increasingly have students “use Pillar language” when they self reflect and offer peer feedback.
Interestingly, our semester reports have enabled us to develop a ‘capabilities data set’. By comparing first semester feedback and second semester feedback, we have identified patterns, asked questions and formulated ideas to better address and plan for the development of these critical skills in each young person.
“Assessing capabilities is often not as simple as assessing literacy and numeracy, and may require a triangulated assessment strategy” @Mitch_Inst 2016 report, page 21.
As such, teachers have ‘scanned the data’ using A framework for transforming learning in schools: Innovation and the spiral of inquiry by Helen Timperley, Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert (2014).
By referring to the data set below, and in an effort to “get underneath” and understand what these number are actually telling us, teachers reflected on:
- What the data shows
- What it could mean
- And, what it could also mean
The conversation and reflection, which is in its infancy stages, informs our strategy and planning for 2018. However, the longer term aim is that the class of 2023 leave St Luke’s with a folio of work which serves as evidence about their skills and capabilities to address real world global challenges and real world local problems. A focus on data and evidence stemming from our 6 Pillars of Learning will achieve this aim far more authentically than a fixation with marks and grades.
As always, comments, feedback and questions are welcome.