Curriculum Matters

NAPLAN

Two weeks ago students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 sat the NAPLAN tests which are held each year in May. Although we were to complete them online, Victoria pulled out of this trial and they were completed with pencil and paper as in previous years. These tests provide practice for students at sitting formal tests and are one source of data for schools and parents to assess the progress of individual students, cohorts and programs. These results are useful but are a single snapshot in time focussing on a few (albeit crucial) key skills and not the whole picture. Teacher assessment over time, which will be summarised in our upcoming Semester Reports, provides a rich and more detailed picture of student learning and NAPLAN results should be seen in this wider context. NAPLAN results are published in September.

A reminder to parents that Junior and Secondary School Semester’s Reports will be published to families online via our Tintern Grammar Portal. They will go live at 3pm on Tuesday 27 June. As in the previous two years, reports will not be mailed home as hard copies. Instructions for accessing these reports will be emailed to families in the last week of term.

Preparing for Assessments

An important part of a learning cycle is assessment of progress made. This informs both the student and the teacher of how well the learning intentions have been met and provides feedback for both on how to address areas for further improvement as well as strengths that can be built upon. This is true both in the sense of discipline based knowledge and skills but also of the broader competencies’ that education seeks to engender in students such as resilience, organisation, collaboration and problem solving.

As the semester comes to a close many students will be undertaking assessments, whether it be projects, assignments, oral presentations or exams, it is important to remember that these are not only opportunities to assess progress in discipline knowledge and skills but also opportunities to develop grit, perseverance, organisation and reflection and goal setting. These are all important skills for the modern world and will stand our students in good stead as they grow towards adulthood.

I urge all students to follow their teachers’ guidance in how to best prepare for any upcoming assessments not only as an end in itself but also as a way to prepare them for life-long learning beyond formal schooling.

ICAS Competitions

Tintern Grammar offers a variety of invitational opportunities for our students to participate in the University of New South Wales, International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS). For over 30 years, ICAS has taken place annually in schools throughout Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, the Pacific Region and South Africa. At Tintern Grammar, there is no cost to parents for students who are invited to participate in these competitions.

In the Junior Schools, students are invited to participate based on academic readiness as judged by their Head of School and in consultation with their teacher. These opportunities are provided as extension and enhancement activities. Parents who receive this offer will then be asked to choose whether to accept the offer. It is important to note that great care is taken in selecting students to sit these competitions at this level, as while it is an opportunity to build resilience we would not want to damage student’s confidence by competing with a selective cohort from across the state.

In the Middle Schools, all students are entered in the English, Mathematics and Science competitions. Exceptions to this are by recommendation from Learning Enhancement or parental advice. These competitions provide a timely opportunity for students to gain a measure of their own achievement in an external testing situation. The school also receives useful cohort data which, alongside the NAPLAN, assists us in tracking the effectiveness of our programs and progress of our students. In addition, we offer opportunities to selected students in Writing as an extension activity. Limited invitations to the Mathematics competitions are extended to students in Years 10-12.

If your child has entered one of these competitions, it is important to note when reading your child’s report that the State cohort of students is not the same as that of the NAPLAN reports. NAPLAN includes over 95% of all Victorian students in those year levels sitting a test; however, each individual school opts whether to participate in the ICAS competitions and to what extent any given cohort will participate. Therefore, caution should be exercised when looking at the comparative data in ICAS reports as the cohort to which your child is compared is not as representative as the NAPLAN.

All participating students receive a certificate and an individual student report indicating which questions they answered correctly and their score compared with the rest of the students tested. A UNSW medal is awarded when the highest score in each year level in each state in each subject.

If you do not wish your child to be included in a secondary competition please email me and queries regarding Junior Schools Competitions should be directed to the relevant Head of School

Secondary Program and Subject Selection for 2018

As part of Tintern Grammar’ commitment to ensuring students make informed choices, we are holding two information sessions relating to the options available for our Years 10 and 11 students of 2018. Tintern Grammar is proud to be the only school in the Region which offers all three pathways VCE, VET and IB, and to have such a significant history of success in all of these programs.

The first of these sessions is scheduled for Wednesday 14 June 2017 in the CM Wood Centre, when all three pathways will be outlined by the program co-ordinators. We invite you and your child to attend the Pathways Evening where families will be given information so that there can be informed discussions at home as to which pathway will best suit their daughter’s/son’s needs.

As a follow up to this evening a Subject Showcase Evening will be held on in Term 3 on Wednesday 26 July 2017.  On this second evening all individual IB, VCE and VET subjects on offer next year will be outlined and subject teachers will be available to answer specific subject-related questions. At this evening 2017 Year 9 students and families are invited to attend a special information session on the possibility of taking a VCE subject in Year 10, prior to joining 2017 Year 10 students and families in the Anderson Centre (Senior College).

As in previous years, subject selection will be made on-line. This year, that process will commence on Friday 28 July and will close at 6pm on Sunday 6 August. Students will be given instructions on how to follow this process in special assemblies at school.

The information sessions mentioned above will assist students to select the most suitable pathway and subject choices for 2018. Individual teachers and our careers counsellors will also be available to assist in this process throughout the timeline outlined.

by Jason McManus, Vice Principal  – Teaching & Learning

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