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Issue 2, April 2018

Editorial: Keeping up with the pace of change

I am thrilled to have joined the SACE Board at such an exciting time, both for the organisation and for educators around Australia. With the delivery of the electronic examination in English Literary Studies this year, we will be the first jurisdiction to offer a computer-based end of Year 12 exam in Australia and I am sure that other jurisdictions will follow our lead.

The roll-out of the electronic exams will progress over time and we will be careful that each step along the way ensures higher quality assessment. Being the first cab off the rank, English Literary Studies will look a lot like a paper-based exam. We have listened to the ideas of educators and students so the exam will still have plenty of functionality to navigate the screen, write notes, highlight text, and zoom in and out. Importantly, students will no longer be required to handwrite long-form answers. Future iterations of the exam will begin the gradual shift to make the most of the possibilities created by electronic assessment.

This careful implementation of electronic exams is an example of how assessment authorities, like the SACE Board, are continually developing to support teachers and learners in keeping up with the pace of change.

Whenever I think about the ways in which we can help young people to operate in our increasingly uncertain and complex world, I come back to this clip from a ‘Google Hangout’ with Laszlo Bock and Kyle Keogh from Google. At the time, Laszlo Bock was Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations and, with Sales Director Keogh, gave some tips about applying for a job at Google.

Of course, this clip is not just about Google. It gives us some clues as to what employers and other knowledge-intensive organisations such as universities might look for in their future employees. Bock even outlines these characteristics in order of importance: ability to learn; qualities of emergent leadership; openness to new ideas and to being wrong; and role-related knowledge. The ongoing evolution in every part of our education system is responding to these changing demands in one way or another.

Watching the clip, or just reading through the list of attributes, it seems to me that we want young people to be agile, innovative thinkers who can actively transfer their learning from school to life in unrehearsed and unimagined ways. Traditionally I think assessment practices might have worked against this, especially high-stakes, summative assessments that are further narrowed in standardised tests. If these desirable characteristics have emerged in some students it has often been despite the curriculum and assessment practices, not because of them.

Around the world, we are seeing the signs of approaches to curriculum and assessment that intentionally promote the development of the student agency and ability to transfer highlighted by Bock. The shift from hoping these characteristics will emerge in some students, to intentionally developing them in all, is a much more equitable approach; one which is addressed through the professional learning options available through the Institute of Educational Assessors (IEA). Making the General Capabilities explicit in the Australian Curriculum (and the SACE) is one expression of this shift. This change in curriculum complements our pedagogical and assessment practices, which recognise that discipline knowledge and know-how is necessary, but will not ensure student success by itself (and is at the bottom of Laszlo Bock’s list of required characteristics).

These kinds of changing educational demands are some of the reasons why I am so pleased to be joining the SACE Board at this time. There are exciting challenges ahead. All of us who work in education will need to develop new ways of working but it will be worth it. Our reward will come from knowing that we have developed a generation of young people who are ready for the future. Through the ongoing development of our assessment practices we will be confident that their grades will tell them, and us, important information. A student’s grades will show how effectively they can be expected to wield the knowledge they have, and what their future learning needs might be in a changing and uncertain world.

Martin Westwell
Chief Executive
SACE Board of South Australia

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Case studies in focus

Importance of moderation processes in ensuring the reliability of teacher judgments

Chris Payne

Chris looks at the importance of moderation processes in ensuring the reliability of teacher judgments which, in turn, affects the Catholic Education South Australia funding allocations for English as an Additional Language.

Social moderation as a means for improvement

Michael Cimarosti

As Michael and the R-3 school community found, moving from a general discussion to a coordinated social moderation approach helps to develop teacher capacity and confidence in assessment practices, leading to improved student outcomes.

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CEA graduates


Congratulations to the new Certified Educational Assessors graduates!

  • Brent Bloffwitch
  • Brian Parsons
  • Emma Smerdon
  • Jacob Robson
  • Jasmin Eckert
  • Tonia Carfora

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Assessment Notebook

You haven't taught until they have learned
- John Wooden, American basketball player and head coach at the University of California
The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly
- Ausubel, D 1968, Educational pyschology: A cognitive view, Rinehart and Winston, New York, p vi
Even with the best of intentions, even if you seem like a 'natural' as a teacher, unless you deliberately learn how to get better so you can teach the students of today for the world of tomorrow, you will not be teaching like a pro. You will just be an enthusiastic amateur
- Hargreaves, A & Fullan, M 2012, Professional Capital: Transforming teaching in every school, Teachers College Press, New York, p 46
Nobody starts off stupid. You have only to watch babies and infants and think seriously about what all of them learn or do
- Holt, J 1982, How Children Fail, Penguin Books, London, p 274-5
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm
- Sir Winston Churchill
I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed
- Michael Jordan, Nike advert

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