good news for indigenous Australians

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Yvonne Meyer
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:08 am

good news for indigenous Australians

Postby Yvonne Meyer » Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:49 pm

The most disadvantaged in Australian are Indigenous people living in remote areas. Finally, some good news...

Noel Pearson’s radical teaching plan passes first test

They are the children who carry the weight of a legacy. With each turn of a page, with each multiplication, the children of a trio of tiny Cape York towns bring the promise of their grandparents just a little closer to fruition.

Land rights were hard-won on the nation’s northernmost peninsula, and these children are the guardians of a prosperous future.

“We’re definitely on the up now,” says parent Dion Creek, whose son Chastyn and daughter El’ija attend the Coen campus of the Cape York Academy. “We are at the stage where we want to start doing something with our land. But nothing will happen unless our kids are educated. We are not going to let the struggle, the fight, for land rights be for nothing.”

Now, hard data that gives the first comprehensive indication of how a radical experiment in remote education is transforming three Cape York schools can be revealed. Five years ago, Direct Instruction was introduced at two Cape York schools: Coen and ­Aurukun, after Noel Pearson’s Cape York Partnerships was given unprecedented licence to overhaul the educational status quo. A year later, the school at Hope Vale joined the project.

Queensland Education Department analysis, just compiled, of NAPLAN results from Hope Vale’s school between 2008 and 2014 reveals dramatic improvements in outcomes. In 2014, all Year 3 students at Hope Vale — the first cohort to be taught under Direct Instruction for the entirety of their schooling — performed above national minimum standards in numeracy and reading.

More than half of Hope Vale’s students performed at levels within the upper two bands in numeracy, and nearly one in five in reading. Prior to 2014, there had never been a student performing in the upper two bands in numeracy or reading at Hope Vale.

Hope Vale principal Finn Buckley said: “We were really ­anticipating these results. We’re very proud that two of our Year 3s finished in the top 2 per cent of the country in reading last year.”

One of those students is nine-year-old Skye Ludwick, who plays the trumpet in the school band and devours books at home as well as at school.

“I like stories about dinosaurs,” the beaming student said.

Pioneered in the US, Direct ­Instruction is based on a com­prehensive curriculum, student ­assessment and highly scripted lessons. With its explicit teaching style and emphasis on phonics in literacy, the method runs counter to trends in education and its ­implementation was not without controversy. But the transformation in the tiny schools has to be seen to be believed.

Down the cape from Hope Vale, in their corrugated-iron library, Coen’s children are seated at desks, reading The Prince and the Pauper. The archaic fable is full of new words of nuanced meaning: dignity, poverty, torment, ­patrician, soul.

“What is dignity?” a teacher asks one child. “Manners,” the little girls says. “Where is your soul?” is the next question. “In the bottom of your foot,” comes the reply.

Manners and soul are something these children have in abundance, but in remote schools around the nation, the spirits of Aboriginal children are routinely crushed by school systems that fail youngsters who most critically need lifting up.

Nationally, remote schools lag behind their city school counterparts. Now, the Direct Instruction program, along with that of its closely-aligned sister method, Explicit Direct Instruction, is attracting interest from schools around the nation. Though only the three Cape York schools are using the full ­Direct Instruction program, countless schools across the ­nation are using aspects of the method, such as DI’s Spelling Mastery and Reading Mastery programs

This week, West Australian leaders joined Mr Pearson on a tour of Coen and Hope Vale, keen to see Direct Instruction in action. One of those leaders was Miriuwung man Lawford Benning, the chief executive of the East Kimberley’s Gelganyem Trust.

“When I stood in that classroom, I started getting goosebumps,” Mr Benning said. “You know that feeling? The feeling of power within the room, and the feeling of connectedness between teachers and students. It really moved me. And I’ll tell you what, if we don’t seriously take on a model that’s going to really bring about change in education for our kids, and all our education in our region, we’ll be telling the same story in 50 years’ time.”

Despite the promising gains in Hope Vale, results across all three Cape York Academy campuses are more varied, particularly in writing. In 2014, some campuses and year levels recorded their highest results, while others, some of their lowest.

In Coen and Hope Vale, ­attendance tells a positive story. So far this year, the two schools have recorded the highest attendance of remote-based indigenous Queensland schools. In Coen, there was great celebration recently when the school recorded 100 per cent attendance.

It is a pride that Mr Pearson wishes the grandmothers and grandfathers, who petitioned him 15 years ago for better education in their tiny town, could see. Most of those old people have since died. “I think back on all those elders that worked with me and I think they’d be just so proud to see their children, children and great-grandchildren succeeding in the way they are,” Mr Pearson said.
Yvonne Meyer
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:08 am

Re: good news for indigenous Australians

Postby Yvonne Meyer » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:21 pm

Following article is for those who don’t subscribe to The Australia. Also, I included the first responses from readers to this article. The second response from ‘Shaun’ is me. I use my husband’s computer to access The Australian and it only recognises his name. So 1950’s!

Terry Redman’s Western Australia remote education town plan


The highly scripted Direct Instruction teaching method for primary school-aged children is emerging as the backbone of the Barnett government’s radical overhaul of remote Aboriginal communities.

But the minister leading the overhaul of spending in Western Australia’s north does not believe the state’s 274 remote communities have the capacity to offer a good high school education.

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman favours more student hostels in the state’s largest northern towns, where teens from remote communities can complete secondary school.

Mr Redman, who with Education Minister Peter Collier and Child Protection Minister Helen Morton is overhauling regional and remote spending in the state’s north, yesterday flagged benefits packages for remote communities willing to adopt the Direct ­Instruction method in their primary schools.

“If we start resourcing this way, we can fund success,” Mr Redman said. “For those communities that want to be part of it, I think that’s a good strong point. There are communities that are ready to go and be part of the change.”

Championed by Cape York leader Noel Pearson as part of his Good to Great Schools initiative, DI has shown early promise in a small number of remote West Australian schools, including on the vast desert lands of the Martu people.

The method, in which children learn in groups by calling out ­answers in regimented sessions, has been in Cape York schools for five years. Queensland Education Department analysis of NAP­LAN results from that region’s Hope Vale school between 2008 and last year shows dramatic ­improvements.

Last year, all Year 3 students at Hope Vale — the first cohort to be taught under DI for all their school years — performed above national minimum standards in numeracy and reading.

More than half of Hope Vale’s students performed at levels within the upper two bands in numeracy, and nearly one in five in reading. Before that, no student at Hope Vale had ever performed in the upper two bands in numeracy or reading.

Mr Redman supports rolling out DI in remote primary schools, and help for students to go to the nearest good high school in larger centres. “I don’t believe we can deliver a quality secondary education in these communities,” he said.

Mr Redman said some people in remote communities told him they wanted to move to a town, but they knew there was little or no government housing there. They stayed put even though there were no jobs because they had a house supplied.

Mr Redman said the government should build houses in northern towns for people from remote communities who wanted to work in towns. They could be provided on the same terms as the successful transitional housing scheme — available so long as the adult tenants have jobs and their children attend school.

“Some people are locked to a community that they want to leave,” he said.

“What does a mum and dad with five kids do in a remote ­community who want to move — they can’t. Where do they go?

“Setting up pathways of ­transitional houses gives people options.” ... 7547955856

Didn't we used to call this method "learning by rote"?

@Mark No, this is called evidence-based effective instruction where children are directly and explicitly taught the sub-set skills of reading, spelling and math to mastery level so that the entire cohort can access the academic curriculum.

In other words, children are taught to read so that they can then read to learn.

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