ALL’s submission to the Productivity Commission
The Productivity Commission recently released a draft Issues Paper into education evidence base, arguing that the path to better education outcomes lies in strengthening the capability to identify and evaluate the policies, programs and teaching practices that work best, for whom and in what circumstances, and applying this across Australia’s school systems.
ALL has a keen interest in data, evidenced through its first lecture Joy and Data presented by Sir Michael Barber, the renowned UK educationalist. In it, he posed the question: how do we enable students to acquire the literacies, competencies and character to thrive in the 21st century?
His argument is that data was essential and that “we need to reclaim data as an ally in improving the human condition, … as one ingredient alongside others such as analysis, informed ethical judgment and, … teaching and learning, data can and does bring joy.”
Our submission extended Barber’s argument to highlight that data is a powerful tool to help students and teachers identify a student’s point of need and, if used well and alongside other data, enables teachers to deliver personalised learning in the classroom.
ALL cautioned against relying on achievement tests as the sole indicator of an effective educational system, which currently appears to be the status quo.
Our submission also noted that the national evidence base as described in the Issues Paper is a network of datasets. While over time they can measure changes, provide insight into drivers and inform policy decision-making, service delivery and evaluation, these datasets have no power to improve education outcomes.
Currently, ALL suggests education policy and national data collections concentrate on a narrow set of indicators rather than embrace the skills and attributes the young people need to succeed in the world outside school.