Monday, November 26, 2012

Direct Instruction success at Coen

On the weekend, The Australian published a discouraging article titled "Noel Pearson's Cape schools lose funding", which informed us that:
A senior federal government source said Direct Instruction had been championed and imported into the Cape school with the "very clear and strong assumption that results will be automatically improved".

"This has shown to be wrong and raises questions about the deployment of that method in these schools," the source said.
Noel Pearson hasn't wasted any time in replying today with "Spin doctors turn Cape success story into failure"

He points out that Direct Instruction has achieved outstanding results in Coen:
Buried in Saturday's story of alleged Cape York failure was this reference to NAPLAN results: "The only school to show dramatic improvement in the past five years is at Coen, a school of only about 50 students, where 100 per cent of students met the minimum standard in 10 out of the 15 areas."

In our alternative universe this is the Olympic equivalent of winning a qualifying place in a heat. Not time to play the Australian anthem yet, but jeez, all the kids meeting the minimum standard across 10 of 15 categories in Years 3, 5 and 7 is surely something approaching a heroic feat.

No other Queensland indigenous school comes near Coen's results (and frankly, nor do many mainstream schools). Schools in Cherbourg, Palm Island, Kowanyama, Weipa, Bamaga and Yarrabah all failed to achieve 100 per cent in any category. Only Mapoon (in one out of 15 categories) and Bloomfield (in two out of 15 categories) achieved 100 per cent national minimum standards.

Frankly, I do not know any indigenous school in the country whose NAPLAN results are comparable to Coen's. Coen will no doubt ebb and flow, but in the next few years it will reach or be within 90 per cent of national minimum standards across all 15 categories.

I know the issues associated with NAPLAN testing and reporting but the spin doctoring by opponents of the Cape York Academy that has turned such exciting progress into a miserable story of failure is an injustice to the kids and parents and teachers. Depressingly, those shopping the academy's NAPLAN results to media outlets include a former senior bureaucrat in indigenous education.

In our alternative universe, if you were minister for education, genuine about indigenous education solutions, you would be interested in Coen and see past the spin and keep this thought in mind: from little things, big thing grow. Then you would find the time go and see for yourself.

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