Union calls for learning progressions consultation

The Union has written to the 11 Catholic dioceses seeking discussions in relation to the current learning progressions trial underway in some 99 Catholic systemic schools.

The June IEU Council resolved that the additional workload involved in tracking students via data collection was of considerable concern.

In the Catholic sector, the trial is known as the NSW Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan K-2. A software package – Plan 2 – is used for reporting. At present the only learning progressions developed are for two of the general capabilities; literacy and numeracy.

Member responses in trial schools are overwhelmingly negative.

The first area of concern for teachers implementing the learning progressions into their teaching practice relates to workload. Teachers feel overwhelmed with the amount of time that it takes to track each student. Added to this is the number of times it needs to be done throughout the year. Members mentioned anywhere between three to eight times a year. One commented that there are just too many areas and it makes the whole tool meaningless. Members feel their time is wasted feeding data into machines when they could be planning interesting classroom activities.

Teachers feel stressed, and under pressure and duress to complete the checklists.

Members also questioned the purpose behind the learning progressions. They were asking for whom they were collecting this data? Members pointed out that it really didn’t assist in report writing, as they are required to report using an A to E scale. They also said that it hasn’t replaced any other assessment or data collection they were previously using.

Members felt it would be better to spend time preparing interesting classroom activities that factor in human beings and not numbers in a computer.

Members are still required to complete Early Years Assessment (EYA), write reports for parents on student progress and complete the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) for kindergarten students. Another mentioned the National Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) as one more data collection to be completed.

Members involved in using the learning progressions received varying amounts of support in the implementation and maintenance of the tool. Some teachers received no support while others were introduced to the learning progressions, could call on expert advice of an instructional leader and had time release to complete the input data. Members believed that the learning progressions should not be introduced without professional learning and ongoing support.

The general feeling from the members is all schools will be required to implement the learning progressions from the beginning of 2019 and there would be no extra time or support for teachers.

Lastly, members stated their frustration at the online site (ALAN) used to record progress of the learning progressions. It was found to be cumbersome and unfriendly. One member said it takes four keystrokes to record each indicator for each outcome. Members felt it would be better to spend time preparing interesting classroom activities that factor in human beings and not numbers in a computer.

In meetings with the various dioceses, the Union will be seeking details of the assistance provided to classroom teachers and propose an audit of the actual time taken to generate and enter data. A scaling back of expectations will be sought. The August IEU Council will further consider the National School Reform Agreement, especially its linkages to the learning progressions agenda.

Mark Northam
Assistant Secretary