Reporting review needs to look at workload

Joan Lemaire
Senior Vice President

Federation will raise workload and other professional issues during the Department of Education and Communities’ review of the Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K–12 policy.

The union believes a review of the policy and existing practice is necessary.

Any new policy must acknowledge and support the professional judgement of teachers in terms of promoting student learning; delivering appropriate curriculum content within syllabuses to cater for the diverse learning needs of students; making informed decisions about student achievement and determining how this information should be reported to parents and carers.

Many members have raised significant concerns associated with excessive workload related to some assessment and reporting processes. There is confusion about what are mandatory requirements compared to activities that are not mandatory but which may assist in improving student learning outcomes. Federation will seek clarification from the Department in relation to mandatory requirements as well as information about these other activities or initiatives.

The current policy remains in force until the review is complete. It is important for members to be aware that the policy recognises the need to consider workload implications for both assessment and reporting processes:

“1.2.1 Schools plan assessments so that:

(i) students can demonstrate achievement of outcomes for the relevant stage of learning

(ii) valid and reliable assessment strategies are used

(iii) the timing, frequency and nature of the assessment processes are time efficient and manageable for teachers and students.”

“1.3.2 The school’s procedures for reporting to parents will be:

(i) based on the Department’s policy

(ii) time efficient and manageable and

(iii) developed in consultation with parents/carers and teachers.”

Where there are workload concerns, members should discuss how these school processes can be made more manageable and time efficient.

Federation will pursue the need for the Department to provide appropriate support, resources and advice to schools to ensure that the focus of assessment is formative (for student learning) and summative (of student learning) and that reporting is about student learning in terms of achievement and progress. In some cases, the workload associated with reporting appears to be driving the assessment process which means the focus becomes assessment for reporting. This can create pressure to focus only on limited aspects of the curriculum such as literacy and numeracy and/or teach to various tests.

The Department has already met with Federation to discuss the review and the DEC has agreed to continue to meet and consult with the union about the review process and during the course of the review.

K–10 English Syllabus

Although the review will take some time, an immediate change to the reporting process for primary teachers is necessary as the new K–10 English Syllabus is not structured around strands. The Department has advised that until “the policy review is complete, teachers should report using a comment on overall student achievement in English K–6. In years 1–6 teachers should also include an overall grade based on A to E or equivalent word descriptions”. There are no changes to the requirements for secondary teachers.