Students compete against themselves to reach ‘personal best’

The Gonski review recommended a student-centred curriculum and personalised approach to teaching (Bigstock)

Students should be encouraged to aim for a “personal best” in the classroom, similar to how athletes strive for their fastest race or highest score, under a radical approach proposed by Australian Catholic University. Source: The Australian.

ACU, which produces more teaching graduates than any other tertiary provider, has called for an end to traditional forms of assessment comparing a student to age or grade-level expectations in favour of a system whereby “the only person a student is being compared with is himself (or) herself and their own previous learning”.

“In sports this is known as a personal best,” says the university in its submission to the NSW Curriculum Review launched last year. “Athletes train together and compete against each other for places, but ultimately work towards improving their PB.”

According to the submission, which endorses many of the recommendations to come out of last year’s Gonski review, broad standardised tests, such as NAPLAN, should be replaced with tests for individual progress.

“Education is about learning and the purpose of assessment is to ascertain what students know, understand and can do,” the submission says.

“The current system … assumes that students learn at a common pace and in a common style. The result is that many of our brightest students do not work to their full potential, while students who initially struggle in school become labelled as failures and rarely regain the status of a successful learner until after they have left school.”

A shift to a more student-centred curriculum and personalised approach to teaching was a key recommendation of the Gonski review to achieve educational excellence in schools that was handed down last year. It called for an end to an age-based curriculum in favour of one based on learning progressions, supported by an online assessment tool to measure student attainment over time.

ACU dean of education policy and strategy Tania Aspland said the problem with imposing a rigid content-based curriculum on a class group irrespective of each student’s ability was that some would succeed and others would fail. She said a more inclusive curriculum started with an assessment of each student’s ability so that personalised learning goals could be devised.

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Personal best ‘key to results in school’ (The Australian

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