The Australian Government and State and Territory Governments have agreed to develop greater national consistency in school curriculum across the country. They have agreed to common standards in maths, science and English, with the understanding that States and Territories will retain influence over local content. The agreement was reached at the April 2007 MCEETYA meeting in Darwin. The Ministers also agreed to consider further options including the establishment of a national body to oversee development of the nationally consistent curriculum. See media release, 13 April 2007 from the Australian Government Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop. See also article in The Australian, 14 April 2007 and report in The Age, 13 April 2007.
The council of Australian Ministers of Education (MCEETYA) has decided against a proposal for the introduction of performance-based pay for teachers. See article in The Australian, 14 April 2007. There has been widespread comment over the proposal in the period leading up to the meeting. See Pay cuts part of Bishop's bold plan in The Age, 16 April 2007; Competitive pay does nothing for students by NSW Education Minister John Della Bosca in Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2007; Parity's the question for teachers in Sydney Morning Herald, 9 April 2007; Teachers need pay incentives in The Courier Mail, 9 April 2007; Teachers to sit pay rise exam in The Advertiser, 7 April 2007. For commentary on merit pay in relation to rural and remote schools, see Performance pay for schools without teachers?, Online Opinion, 19 April 2007.
Despite the image of students as 'tech savvy' and ICT literate, the USA's Educational Testing Service (ETS) has found that many still lack the critical thinking skills needed to use ICT effectively for academic work. The ETS surveyed 6,300 tertiary and senior secondary students who took the company’s ICT literacy assessment this year. The research found that only a few test takers could accurately adapt material for a new audience; only 40 per cent entered multiple search terms to narrow the results of an online search; and fewer than half could sort and clarify a large amount of information efficiently. Just over half were found to judge the objectivity of the sites correctly. See ETS media release, 14 November 2006 and report in Inside Higher Ed, 15 November 2006, including online feedback from Inside Higher Ed readers. See also summary in Youth Field Xpress, March 2007.
South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory agreed on ways to manage the attendance of Aboriginal students at remote schools. The Ministers of each jurisdiction have undertaken to share the enrolment details of Aboriginal students across State borders. See media release from South Australian Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, 13 April 2007.
In New South Wales, the Hon. John Della Bosca, MLC has been appointed as the Minister for Education and Training, replacing Ms Carmel Tebbutt. The portfolio includes responsibility for schools as well as TAFE, state training services, adult, community and migrant education and higher education. Mr Michael Coutts-Trotter has become the Department of Education's new Director General, replacing Mr Andrew Cappie-Wood.
Schools and universities in the USA have begun reviewing their preparedness for emergences in the light of the fatal shootings at Virginia Tech. See report in The Washington Post, 17 April 2007.
Two senior lecturers at Queensland University of Technology have argued that postmodernism and post-structuralism have inspired an 'assault against notions of aesthetic and moral quality in cultural studies'. They cite the case of a doctoral thesis recently presented at their university, involving the creation of a reality TV series seen as deliberately ridiculing two intellectually disabled people. The lecturers link this incident to an uncritical endorsement of mass-produced popular culture, such as reality TV shows, among many leading thinkers in cultural studies. See article in The Australian, 11 April 2007.
Latest statistics show continued improvements in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) in terms of student performance and the number of completions. A recent survey shows that more than 50 per cent of students felt 'well prepared' for external assessments. See article in the New Zealand Education Gazette, 2 April 2007.
A new code of practice for science teachers has been developed by the New Zealand Association of Science Teachers. The code is designed to help schools meet the requirements of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. See article in the New Zealand Education Gazette, 2 April 2007.
School leaders and teachers from all States and Territories are invited to register for the ACEL–Microsoft online conference, Curriculum: Getting the Balance Right in Your School. The conference will run 21–27 May 2007 and is free of charge.
Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, is the keynote speaker at an upcoming education seminar, 'How knowledge is created'. The seminar will be held in Adelaide, 23 April; Perth, 24 April; Sydney 26 April; and in Melbourne on 27 April 2007. See announcement from education.au.