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Educational measurement

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 9 September 2015

The following letter was submitted to The Courier-Mail for possible inclusion in the edition of Wednesday 9 September 2015 but it was not selected for publication.

Number crunchers in charge of education

Professor Kenneth Wiltshire wisely warns against allowing "measurers" or "number crunchers" to be in charge of any part of a school system ("In-school senior assessment still needs more examination", Sep 8).

Professor Barry McGaw, the inaugural chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), that developed the national curriculum, was sometimes inaccurately described by journalists as an expert on school curriculum. He would not have made that claim himself. His expertise and experience were in educational measurement.

And I suspect that Professor Wiltshire would be appalled if he had a better undertanding of the contemporary focus on data in the school system, which sometimes amounts to an obsession. Data is of course useful but a sensible balance must be maintained. There is some timely advice often attributed to Einstein (inaccurately, I believe): not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts".

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English

Author: Garry Collins, AATE President
About: Garry Collins is the Immediate Past President of ETAQ and began a 2 year term as AATE President on 1 January 2014. A retired high school English teacher, he now works in the School of Education at the University of Queensland as a sessional tutor in English curriculum courses.
Tags: Assessment

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