The highly anticipated Gonski 2.0 report is a failure that offers little useful guidance for schools and school systems, and does not meet the terms of reference set down for the review, Centre for Independent Studies researchers Dr Jennifer Buckingham and Blaise Joseph say.
The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools was commissioned by the federal government last year to provide advice on how additional Commonwealth funding should be used to improve school performance and student achievement.
The committee led by David Gonski was tasked to examine evidence and make recommendations on the most effective teaching and learning strategies to be deployed.
The report released today “will be a disappointment to many in the sector — including the federal government — who were expecting clear, evidence-based direction on effective use of school resources at the system and school level,” Mr Joseph says. “It is by no means a comprehensive report or a blueprint for future Australian education policy.”
Dr Buckingham says the recommendations in the second Gonski report are not based on evidence about effective use of school resources. “Many of the findings are not supported by research, and lack detail about implementation,” she says.
“For example, the disproportionate attention to policies that facilitate ‘growth mindset’ have no evidence-basis in terms of impact on student achievement.
“Likewise, the pre-occupation with increasing the focus on general capabilities has no support in rigorous research about curriculum design and how children learn.”
The researchers say one of the specific terms of reference for the review — improving the preparedness of school leavers to succeed in employment, further training or higher education — was not properly addressed, with the report deeming an investigation of senior secondary education to be ‘beyond the scope’ of the review.
“The Gonski committee recommended yet another review looking into senior secondary education. Are we to expect Gonski 3.0?” Mr Joseph asks.
“This process is like a Gonski hall of mirrors — it is hard to see where it might end.”
Dr Jennifer Buckingham is a senior research fellow in the education program at the Centre for Independent Studies, Director of the Five from Five reading campaign, and the author of several research papers on education policy. Blaise Joseph is a policy analyst in the education program at the Centre for Independent Studies and author of two research papers on the Gonski education reforms.
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