ACTA Submission on School Funding

The ACTA Council was invited to submit submitted a response to the Australian Parliament ‘Senate Select Committee on School Funding’ inquiry. The submission draws on input from ACTA Councillors from around the country as well as the recent ACTA survey into the State of EAL/D in Australia. 

 

Click here (http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/School_Funding/School_Funding/Submissions) to access the Senate Committee website.

 

The ACTA Submission is number #74

Please note: When the Senate Committee authorises the release of a submission, subsequent publication of it is protected by parliamentary privilege. Please do not download and forward the submission to others but refer them to the above website.

ACTA Submission

Compulsory literacy and numeracy testing?

“I just found this really interesting response written by ACTA (Australian Council of TESOL Associations, the Australian Linguistics Society (ALS) and the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee Inquiry into the administration and reporting of NAPLAN testing. With the recent announcement that SCSA will now be requiring ALL students from year 10 to sit and pass a compulsory literacy and numeracy test and pass in order to obtain a WACE certificate, it makes for rather interesting reading!! I think the arguments they put forth in this document are very strong and somewhat compelling!”
– Committee member Sakura Ashton

Press ‘Control’ and click on the link below to take a look at the doc.
http://www.tesol.org.au/files/files/145_ACTA_ALAA_ALS_submission_NAPLAN.pdf

WATESOL Position Statement (December 2012)

WATESOL is deeply concerned about the accessibility of WACE exams for students who speak English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D). EAL/D learners who have good learning area knowledge are being disadvantaged under the current system, where plain English use appears not to have been seriously considered in the WACE exam vetting process.

Analysis of WACE papers from 2011-2012 reveal a range of barriers to comprehension that impact learners’ ability to demonstrate their understanding of subject matter (especially in the Sciences). These barriers are linguistic (choices of vocabulary and grammatical constructs), sociolinguistic (how language is used) and sociocultural (in what cultural spaces language is used).

In a recent letter, Allan Blagaich, SCSA CEO, stated that:

The Authority’s assessment requirements and examination policies currently require that all students, regardless of language background, are assessed under the same conditions in both school-based assessment tasks and the WACE examinations. WACE examination panels are requested to review the language of each examination in terms of accessibility.

Following consultation with all Australasian Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Authorities (ACACA), it is accepted practice that dictionaries and glossaries are not used in examinations. (Letter to Khalin Driver, WATESOL President, 14/11/12)

WATESOL endorses the above-mentioned practice of reviewing the language of each examination in terms of accessibility and suggests these panels are given assistance to do this from a suitably qualified expert in additional language acquisition.

The current linguistic barriers in exam papers are unfairly biased towards native speakers of Standard Australian English and students whose life experiences allow them the required comprehension of the questions and of the cultural assumptions behind them.

WATESOL believes that as dictionary access is not permissible under special provisions rulings, other solutions need to be found. For example:

1) WATESOL believes that a best practice WACE exam-writing process with multiple checks should include collaboration and consultation with teachers of English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) to ensure Plain English is used.

This collaborative process between Physics and English teachers is already in place for TISC’s “WA Universities’ Preparatory Program Exams 2012”. It is also standard practice in WAMSE and NAPLAN test development and in New South Wales senior year examination.

2) Glossaries or footnotes could be provided to all students, where a non-subject-specific term is unfamiliar (recent examples include “scull” (in the sense of rowing), “build-up” (of calcium) or “marina”).

3) EAL/D students are not given sufficient time to demonstrate their subject knowledge and understanding in WACE examinations (such as Chemistry and Physics) compared with native English speakers.

More time could be given to those English language learners who have been accepted as eligible for enrolment in EAL/D Courses in Year 12.

There is an additional negative flow-on effect of this for native-English-speaking students at schools like Cyril Jackson Senior Campus with mixed EAL/D and native-English-speaking subject cohorts. The native-English-speaking students have their school-based marks moderated downward merely for being a part of such a cohort.

For this reason, if the Authority acts to improve the use of English in WACE exams, thereby improving EAL/D students’ chances of more accurately demonstrating their subject knowledge, it will ultimately benefit all students in schools with high percentages of EAL/D learners and make the process more equitable.

The ‘Melbourne Declaration’ – particularly in the sections ‘Promoting world-class curriculum and assessment’ and ‘Improving educational outcomes for Indigenous youth and disadvantaged young Australians, especially those from low socioeconomic backgrounds’ – highlights the need for educators to improve outcomes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and furthermore, provide fair and reliable assessment for all Australians. We have a responsibility as educators and assessors to ensure these outcomes for all students.

Letter to the Senate Enquiry ‘Teaching and learning – maximising our investment in Australian schools’

To Whom It May Concern

The Westralian Association for the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (WATESOL), the peak body for TESOL education in Western Australia, is pleased to present for your consideration a submission to the Senate Enquiry Teaching and learning – maximising our investment in Australian schools.

The submission was prepared and reviewed by WATESOL councillors and members who possess extensive educational qualifications and expertise in the field of English as an Additional Language or Dialect.

We would welcome the opportunity to consult further with the Senate Committee and to collaborate in the planning, development and implementation of programs and strategies which will enhance educational provision for learners of English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D).

Our aim is to develop the Standard Australian English (SAE) language and literacy skills of EAL/D students as we recognise that the principal role of schooling in Australia is teaching SAE language, literacy and numeracy to facilitate involvement within the broader community. We advocate for appropriate methods based on research and best practice to achieve this aim for these students.

Unfortunately, many EAL/D students in Australian contexts are not being provided with appropriate or adequate teaching and learning programs.

In order to best address the diversity of the EALD cohort, our submission is presented in three parts, the first concerning migrant/ refugee students, the second concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and the third highlighting educational inequities faced by Cocos Malay students in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

In general, WATESOL calls on the Federal Government to ensure that EAL/D learners are not rendered invisible under the umbrella of ‘literacy for all’, but that their special and diverse EAL/D learning needs are acknowledged and catered for according to international best practice and research based methods. To do otherwise, would be to disempower and alienate some of our most vulnerable young people.

It is our belief that EAL/D learners will benefit from greater accountability by schools over the EAL/D support provided.  The answer may lie in a system that monitors their educational outcomes using an appropriate EAL/D-specific monitoring tool (as distinct from judging their second or additional language development according to native speaker criteria) and a Capability Framework for their teachers, which ensures learners have access to appropriate and targeted EAL/D teaching delivered by appropriately qualified EAL/D specialists – ideally with tertiary qualifications in TESOL.

WA has been at the forefront of EAL/D education in Australia in the past decade, thanks to the Department of Education’s  ESL/ESD Progress Map, a monitoring tool for K-10 EA/D English language learners and the School Curriculum and Standards Authority’s WACE Course in EAL/D. This course was the first in the country to provide formal specialised teaching and learning programs for a broad range of EALD learners, including pathways to work, TAFE and university.  WATESOL hopes that these gains inform the next chapter of EAL/D education on the national stage, as the Australian Curriculum and the Professional Standards for Teachers are implemented.

Yours sincerely,

Khalin Driver

Ms Khalin Driver, WATESOL President

The full submission is available here.

WATESOL Response to Indigenous Education Action Plan Draft 2010-2014

In 2010, the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) asked for feedback on this important document. We fully endorsed the joint submission made by ACTA, ALS and ALAA, which reflects robust research and best practice in Indigenous education. Read the response issued by WATESOL to the Ministerial Council on the Indigenous Education Action Plan Draft 2010-2014.

An update on the project and link to the draft Indigenous Education Action Plan can be found here.