The Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) is a population measure of children's development as they enter school. Scores are calculated from a teacher-completed checklist covering the developmental domains of physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge. The Australian Government has allocated $15.9 million to the administration of the AEDI in every Australian school. The AEDI is conducted by the Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, in partnership with the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth. See AEDI website for details of the survey's implementation since 2004, and article on page 7 of School Matters, October 2008 concerning its implementation in Western Australian schools in 2009.
An article in The Australian 25 October 2008 reviews progress to date in the development of a national curriculum. Australian Journalist Justine Ferrari describes and evaluates the initial papers on History, Mathematics, English and Science produced by the interim National Curriculum Board.
Peter Mortimore, a former director of the British Institute of Education, has urged Australia to avoid 'league tables' and report cards for schools, criticising their impact in England and recommending Finland as a more successful model for educational improvement. See article in the Sydney Morning Herald 27 October 2008.
The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden National Program grants are now open for schools. Information Sessions are being held in capital cities over the next two weeks. An application form, information pack, selection criteria, FAQs and a registration form for the information sessions are now available online. Applications close 7 November 2008.
Senior high school students who want to discover more about Information & Communications Technology (ICT) in Term 4 are invited to enrol in ICT Connects workshops at The University of Queensland. The workshops, especially designed for senior students, demonstrate the application of ICT in many hotspot areas including drug testing, DNA matching, flight control, movie special effects and fraud detection. Early registration is encouraged.
Disadvantaged Indigenous and rural students living in remote Australian settlements will participate in a three year research project led by Charles Sturt University in NSW and Griffith University in Queensland. The project, which applies new thinking in mathematical education and increases access to current technology, seeks to address the dramatic performance differences that exist in the mathematical outcomes of some of Australia’s most disadvantaged students. The project is due to start in 2009. See Charles Sturt University news release 15 October 2008.
An item on ABC News 27 October 2008 reports on a call in New South Wales for ethics to be taught outside religious education classes. The report indicates that 20 per cent of primary students in the State do not take part in religious education classes, and such students do not have the opportunity to receive ethics education in a secular context.
The USA's National Children's Study aims to learn how the environment and other factors affect children's health, especially development of such conditions as autism, asthma, learning disabilities, diabetes and obesity. Scientists will examine a range of factors, from the diets of pregnant women and young children to the effects of chemicals used in plastics. The study aims to track 100,000 children from conception to age 21. See article in The Seattle Times, 5 October 2008.
In the USA, a program in a local school district has had all students in Grades 1-6 take Spanish classes. The program has led to a surge in foreign language enrolments in later years. See article in the Washington Post, 2 October 2008.
Six Massachusetts districts have established programs that allow native Spanish-speaking students to learn from native English-speaking students, and vice versa. Teachers and parents say allowing students to learn from each other gives children a better understanding of other cultures and increases their achievement. See article in The Boston Globe, 23 October 2008.
A University of Tasmania researcher has argued that teachers taking sex education lessons must be supported with better training and professional development. During research for her PhD thesis ‘Sexual Health Issues in Adolescents’, Dr Jo Winckle observed sex education classes in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges for three years. Among her findings were that many sex education lessons are fact-based and biological, ignoring issues of ethics, values, emotions and moral obligations in sexual behaviour. Sexual diversity is rarely discussed in sex education classes, gender stereotypes are often reinforced, the classes tend to be given in an ad hoc fashion and without sufficient resources, and there is seldom testing of the material to assess student learning. See University of Tasmania media release, 20 October 2008.
SBS's new television series First Australians has been commended by The Age journalist Gabriella Coslovich for its exploration of Aboriginal Australian history. See article in The Age, 25 October 2008. See also article on the series in Curriculum Leadership, 10 October 2008, which describes each episode and includes links to the companion website and to study guides prepared by the Australian Teachers of Media.
A five-year study at the University of Miami and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools will examine and improve elementary school teachers’ knowledge, beliefs and practices involving their teaching of science to English language learners (or ELL students) within an environment that is becoming increasingly driven by high-stakes testing in science. The four major research and development areas are (1) teachers’ initial knowledge, beliefs, and practices; (2) professional development intervention; (3) policy contexts; and (4) improvement among teachers and their ELL students. See article in Education Week, 1 October 2008.