Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 28 February 1985
Page: 338


Senator TEAGUE(3.14) —The report of the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority for 1983-84 no doubt meets the requirement of the Act in terms of reporting and adding to the report financial details that are required for submission to Parliament. However, page 20 of the report refers to two documents-'Judging the Curriculum' and 'The Challenge of Change', to which it is a response. In the report's discussion of these two significant papers about curriculum and assessment only a couple of paragraphs describe the matter in formal terms. Even on a succeeding page about the participation and equity program and youth services there is a similar brief summary paragraph. I express very directly my disappointment with this and request that when there is a matter of public contention about the assessment system in Australian Capital Territory schools this Parliament ought to expect such a statutory authority directly to face that question and to put to this Parliament the terms of the issues involved in the way they think fit. In those respects this report is a matter of glossy statements in a glossy document. That is not good enough. Through the Estimates committees and through other statements and questions raised by honourable senators in this place, there is no doubt that the Parliament is concerned about assessment and curriculum matters in Australian Capital Territory schools. We require more substantial answers.

There is a crisis of confidence amongst parents and school children in the Australian Capital Territory about these school matters. Can any honourable senator say what the assessment system at the end of years 11 and 12 means? Does it describe with any degree of reliability the extent to which a student has undertaken a particular course of study? It is full of doubt. Does it describe the depth to which that student has undertaken study? That also is full of doubt. Does it describe whether the student has mastered the subject? That is full of doubt. Yet, they are the exact requirements of any sound assessment system that ought to be able to be communicated to a student graduating from secondary studies, to be taken on to employment or to any other area in which his education is to be applied. If there is this crisis of confidence, will parents take their children away from Australian Capital Territory schools? Will tertiary education authorities and employers, both in this city and in other places, doubt the reliability of the scores? Along with that, there are the other offences mentioned by my colleague Senator Baume. He referred to the adjustment of scores in the Australian scholastic aptitude test in a way which is still a mystery to the public and, additionally, the adjustment of the scores with regard to female students getting more points because they are female. Mr Houston, who ought to know better as a man of great experience in the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission, even suggested that there ought to be socio-economic adjustments for such tests. I draw direct attention to the inadequacy of the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority reporting on these matters. I believe that it is a matter that must be much more directly followed up by the Senate.