Evidence II: The mathematics strikes back

So just over 12 months ago, I blogged about the ‘Evidence for Learning’ [E4L] Toolkit, which was, then, newly available for Australian teachers as an accessible resource which purports to break down research in order to provide a metric of “what works”. (At this juncture I’m reminded of Dylan Wiliams’ warning that ‘everything works somewhere, and nothing works everywhere’). Anyhow, discussion about evidence is back on educational radars once more.

In my post last year I referred to the work of my colleague, James Ladwig, who at that time, blogged about why Australia does not yet have the research infrastructure for a truly credible, independent National Evidence Base for educational policy. James has returned to the topic of evidence again, writing about what is going wrong with ‘evidence-based’ policies and practices in schools in Australia:

Now just think about how many times you have seen someone say this or that practice has this or that effect size without also mentioning the very restricted nature of the studied ‘cause’ and measured outcome.

Simply ask ‘effect on what?’ and you have a clear idea of just how limited such meta-analyses actually are.

This is all very topical because yesterday’s report into the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools  recommends (recommendation 5.5) the establishment of a national research and evidence institute  to drive better practice and innovation. As an educational researcher myself this sounds very good, depending of course, on how evidence is defined and understood. Continue reading

Teacher reflections on policy

This post is a part of a series being written for my EDUC6352 online masters students.

Educational policy always sits at the intersection of the past, present and future, with the latter often expressed in policy texts as an imagined desired future” (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. xi).


Much of teachers work is shaped by policy – yet do we know how teachers feel about this aspect of their work? Currently in Australia there is a push to professionalise teaching – and yet much of the current policy  has removed agency from teachers (the last ten years have seen the removal of curriculum control, increased standarised testing, and the introduction of a prescriptive model of teacher professional standards). At the same time there is a growing criticism of how many children are missing out on the benefits of education. (See the video below, for an example). Some of this criticism comes with a sense that teachers are to blame and that managing the teachers, via policy settings, will create a better future and a better education system.

Continue reading