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					                                             Progress Report No. 14
                                                                           8 July 2002



the director’s cut

Entitled The Director’s Cut, this column has been suggested as a way for me to give
my take on things that have happened with the New Basics Project and to flag things
on the horizon that might affect your daily operations. I do, at times, have a cameo
role on the Framework discussion list, and this will probably continue. But the
discussion list is exactly that—a discussion list—for everybody to join in and talk
about the New Basics Framework. This column is for updating you and, sometimes,
even reminding you of the non-negotiables or communicating a new direction (some
would call it lecturing but sometimes I just want to save you from creating extra work
for yourselves).

So where to begin?

I will start by thanking critical friends, principals and teachers who attended the
Critical Friends’ Discussion Day on Wednesday 4 June. And a special thanks to
Rosie and Neva for the structure and mood of the day. My original intention had been
to sit in on the morning session but found myself reluctant to leave and so I had
Tania reschedule my commitments for the afternoon. I was very touched by the
openness on the day to the extent that I did not feel that I was intruding when I sat in
on the discussions. It is so much more effective to hear and feel people’s reactions
than to read about them second-hand. My personal reaction to the day was that
every school in the State, whether New Basics schools or not, needs one of you to
themselves! As for the other findings and impressions, I guess we all have to wait for
Rosie’s report. In the meantime, be assured that we consider you to be linchpins in
the implementation of the New Basics Framework in trial schools.

Dr John Ainley, Deputy Director and Head of Policy Research Division, Australian
Council for Educational Research (ACER), was in the branch’s office from Thursday
to Saturday, 6–8 June, in his role as independent external evaluator of the New
Basics Project. John is studying the research around the three central questions in
the New Basics Research Program (yes, the New Basics Project remains a research
project). He will provide two formative evaluations and one summative evaluation (in
2002, 2003, 2004, respectively). The evaluation will validate (or otherwise) our
findings. The three big questions that our research program is investigating are:

   1       What are the strengths and weaknesses of New Basics in improving
           student outcomes and teacher practice?
   2       How viable is the New Basics Framework for extending implementation
           beyond the trial and the trial schools, and should any such extension be
           system-wide or restricted?
   3       What are the areas of New Basics and its implementation that require
           further research by means of supplementary research projects?




                                          Information about the New Basics Project
On the Thursday and Friday he spent in Queensland, John visited several schools
within and around Brisbane. The hospitality of those school communities was much
appreciated. On the Saturday, he attended a meeting of the Framework Research
Advisory Group. It was a long and complicated agenda but the item that really stirred
us up was the Moderation Project within the Research Program. In fact, we changed
direction. Much more about that soon as it is going to be a vital part of the trial this
semester.

The emphasis this semester will be on assessment. As well as trialling a moderation
model, we are planning a learning and development program on standards-
referenced judgments of student performance on Rich Tasks. Or, how do I judge
what grade should be awarded to a student at the culmination of a task. The time has
come for you to want to write all over you Rich Task sketchbooks (which is what we
hear teachers are calling those A3 artbooks that we supplied to every teacher). This
is also the time for you to start saving any constructive criticisms you might have
about individual Rich Tasks or a suite of them. We intend to collate your feedback as
part of a formal analysis of teachers’ and students’ reactions to the tasks.

Finally, for this column, I have a question for individual teachers (and would really
appreciate an answer by E-mail): As a New Basics teacher do you want to be part of
the statewide professional development opportunities for growing an assessment
culture that the Minister for Education requires as a result of The Report of the
Assessment & Reporting Taskforce? (Ask your Principal about this report if you have
not already heard about it.).

When you call me you will no longer have the pleasure of talking with Tania Crosland
who has been my Personal Assistant for just over a year. Tania, quite simply, is
indispensable. I became inertia personified when she broke the news that she was
leaving for marriage and Adelaide (not in that order) so she kindly tracked down her
own replacement. Marnie Davis has now agreed to put up with me and my schedule!




intermission

The end of June 2002 marked the half-way mark for the implementation of the New
Basics Framework in Phase I schools. The project actually started in 2000 but
students were not involved until 2001 (Phase I) and 2002 (Phase II).

from the briefcase

Research by design

The purpose and methods of the research program are summarised in the Synopsis
of the New Basics Research Program, which has been added to the New Basics
website. It provides an overview of what will happen, how it will happen, and when.

A more detailed document entitled The New Basics—Research by Design, the fourth
in the series of booklets for teachers, will be available soon. It will explicate the
research goals, rationale for methods used, analyses to be undertaken, and reporting
schedule to be followed.



                                          Information about the New Basics Project
New Basics dating service

At this stage of the trial, networking of schools, teachers, critical friends and the New
Basics team at branch headquarters (!!) (not Central Office because the Assessment
& New Basics Branch (ANBB) is soon to be relocated to Floor 14, 80 Albert Street)
increases in importance. Networking has already occurred on an informal ad-hoc
basis.

The School Implementation Unit (SIU) would like to facilitate this process further by
offering support and encouragement for networking to occur more frequently and
formally.

Listed below are various levels of support that SIU staff can offer to assist with your
networking:

Level 1:       You have an interest, query or something to share.
               SIU can put you in touch by phone with a school that may have similar
               interests.

Level 2:       You have an interest, query or something to share that would be of
               interest or benefit to several schools.
               SIU can facilitate a teleconference or online discussion.

Level 3:       You are interested in visiting other schools in the trial for general or
               specific purposes.
               SIU can put you in touch with schools that will be able to meet your
               needs.

Level 4:       You are interested in having staff participate in an exchange program
               with another school where teachers swap classes for a few days at a
               time.
               ANBB may be able to provide some funding to assist with travel costs
               for these exchanges.

If you are interested in pursuing these levels of networking and you have a clear idea
of what it is you wish to see and explore with others, submit your request via a New
Basics online request form.

coming events

soon

World Class Tests • 11 and 12 July • 518 students in 49 trial schools • Problem-
solving tests.

Productive Pedagogies Workshop • 16–18 July • Holiday Inn, Roma Street, Brisbane
• registration form and details e-mailed to NEWBASICSPRO discussion list 6 June.

Productive Pedagogies coding • same schools as last year plus some additional high
schools • commencing soon.




                                          Information about the New Basics Project
details later

Boxes of student work for Years 2, 4 and 7

Pilot for the Rich Task analysis

Moderation trial

Rich Task assessment workshops

read anything interesting lately?

Market research tells us that the majority of teachers have read each of the following
publications. Are you in the x% who hasn’t?

   Theory into Practice (first booklet in a series for teachers) – 12%
   Curriculum Organisers (second booklet) – 12%
   The Why, What, How and When of Rich Tasks (third booklet) – 15%
   Collection of the 20 Rich Tasks in an A3 sketchbook (teachers provided with
    individual copies) – 7%.

You might be interested to know that only 43% of teachers have read the New Basics
Project Technical Paper (on the New Basics website). Section 2.4 ―Assessment and
Moderation System for Rich Tasks‖ is especially pertinent at this stage.

It is assumed that you are aware of the contents of the following documents:
 Synopsis of the New Basics Research Program (on the New Basics website)
 The Queensland School Reform Longitudinal Study (teachers’ summary).

vale

Tony Cook, Assistant Director Assessment & New Basics, who takes up the position
of Assistant General Manager, Middle Years, Learning and Teaching Innovation
Division, Department of Education & Training in Victoria at the beginning of August. It
is necessary to go beyond the usual platitudes that accompany farewells to staff. The
record shows that Tony’s contribution to this project has been monumental on
several dimensions of professional excellence: corporate management, school
implementation and intellectual rigour. He has demonstrated exceptional
interpersonal skills, loyalty to every part of the New Basics endeavour, and an
incredible energy for going the extra mile.

It will simply not be the same without him.




                                          Information about the New Basics Project

				
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