Across Australia schools, universities and industries are coming together to explore new ways of measuring success. The University of Melbourne’s New Metrics for Success research-practice partnership offers innovative school leaders an opportunity to collaborate on changing the ‘grammar of education’, pushing back against the barriers that hold us in an outdated model of schooling. From the feedback within the group, and the response from similar efforts at the classroom level all the way up to government, educators in Australia have an appetite for change.
In a recent seminar to the New Metrics team Bill Lucas, Professor of Learning at The University of Winchester and Co-Founder of Rethinking Assessment, told participants that we have, “permission, but not yet the systems.” This sentiment is echoed by many members of the group who have been working in their own corners of Australia on innovative and exciting changes to education, but without the overarching support at a policy and systems level. With the backing of The University of Melbourne, however, these leaders in education have found a network of like-minded institutions that have the power to influence the system through sharing the evidence of our transformative practice.
And, importantly, that power is underpinned by academic rigour and the creation of validated assessment tools.
Following The University of Melbourne Assessment Research Centre (ARC) approach for co-designing trusted assessments and credentials, the New Metrics participants are creating assessment frameworks for a range of competencies and capabilities beyond the traditional scope of education. Going further than the traditional knowledge and skills of the classroom, the New Metrics partnership is developing tools to assess areas of Connectedness, Ethics, Learner Agency, Communication, Character, Citizenship, Quality Thinking, and Collaboration.
The process is in its early stages, but the co-design of the assessment framework is accelerating quickly, and testing and validation of the frameworks is set to begin as early as Terms 3 and 4 of this year.
During Professor Lucas’ talk, he also reflected on the need to explore and share ideas from across the world. New Metrics draws on global experience, including from the UK, the US, and Canada.
Prominent thinkers such as Yong Zhao, Michael Fullan, Anthony Mackay, Sandra Milligan and John Hattie are part of New Metrics, participating in panels, leading seminars, and offering their advice from a global perspective on the challenges we face in education. Suffice to say: we are not alone.
In joining the New Metrics partnership – and in similar research worldwide – schools and institutions are trying to take on a system which has deep roots. Without the combined efforts of a global network, the chances of success are greatly reduced.
The system in Australia reflects in many ways the education system in the UK. Similar to GCSEs and A-Levels, we have high-stakes end-of-year testing which steers the direction of much of what is taught in secondary schools. Where the UK has UCAS, we have the ATAR: a ranking process that indicates how much of the cohort a student has “outperformed”, and a system which has come to dominate the educational narrative from secondary through to tertiary levels.
One thing which unites the New Metrics schools and Rethinking Assessment is our discontent at letting the old ‘grammar’ of education continue to negatively impact our students’ lives.
We are serious about positive change for our students. We have energy, excitement, and commitment from schools and organisations nationwide. We have buy-in and support from state and federal levels of government, and most importantly from thosee students these changes will impact. Together we are reimagining the education system in Australia and designing a new set of metrics to measure the success of our students in response to an ever-changing world.