The results from the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) undertaken to rank children’s reading skills at a year four level has seen Australia perform rather badly, coming in at 27th place out of 45 countries studied internationally.
Results from the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) also saw Australia ranking poorly – 25th in science and 18th in maths.
Federal School Education minister Peter Garrett admits that the results are “a wake up call”, while chief executive of the Australian Council for Education Research, Geoff Masters labelled the results as “disappointing”.
Julia Gillard has committed to Australia entering the top five countries by 2025 and has allocated $6.5 billion annually to improving our schools after the recommendations set out in the Gronski review. She has also indicated that new measures such as performance reviews for teachers and higher enter scores to secure a university teaching course position will form part of her education plan.
Classrooms these days are vastly different to when I was at school. Back then the teacher was in charge of the class, we had a structured curriculum and we had to concentrate on the job at hand. If we didn’t knuckle down and focus on our work and complete our assignments, there were consequences. These days the teacher’s role is that of facilitator with the child directing his or her own learning. Children are not failed as it is seen to be bad for their self esteem and a number of children are moving up from year to year without meeting the curriculum benchmarks .
Our children have all the latest gadgets available to them in their classrooms such as interactive whiteboards, iPads and laptops. They can install the latest software on the home computer, download an app in the blink of an eye, sent text messages at the speed of sound and know the use of every single icon on their smartphone. Why then are they achieving poor results in the basics of reading, science and maths?