The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy got its famous lean because the architects and engineers messed up back in the 14th century.
They didn’t build the foundations correctly.
In the 600 years since it was built the tower has turned into a tourist attraction. That’s lucky, because a tower with a lean isn’t much good for anything else.
From recent comments in the media about the latest PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results an impartial observer could be forgiven for thinking that Australian education may be going the way of the Leaning Tower of Pisa - interesting, but possibly not really doing the job it was built for.
The latest PISA results have shown that Australian students are continuing to fall behind other countries in maths and literacy. In the last 10 years Australia dropped from 6th to 12th in reading and from 9th to 20th in maths on this global comparison.
Wailing & gnashing of teeth
Predictably there’s been much wailing and gnashing of teeth from education commentators, experts, parents and citizens. And as usual when PISA (and NAPLAN) results are announced we hear all sorts of reasons why the results are bad and ways to fix the problem. Here are just a few the media has reported:
- Change/ simplify the curriculum
- Employ more specialist teachers
- Improve teacher education
- The Internet is the problem
- Parents need to value education more
- Poorly behaved students are dragging the results down
- Gonski funding would have fixed it
- Partially privatise low performing public schools
There’s a lot more we could list.
But not one of these reasons for students’ underperformance or suggestions to improve it has considered the capacity of students to learn.
Watch this short (1min) video about the missing link in our education system.
Sure, there’s value in doing a lot of the things that the education experts are proposing including improving teacher education, simplifying the curriculum and so on.
They will all take a long time to make a difference (years, even decades), and they will be expensive.
If education leaders knew there was an evidence-based way to improve Australia’s PISA and NAPLAN results quickly and relatively inexpensively, why would they not implement it?
Well here it is: the Fast ForWord suite of educational neuroscience programs have been used to improve results for over 2 million students in more than 50 countries in the last 20 years.
It’s like the world’s largest and longest trial of an educational improvement methodology. And the results of improved learning across all subjects including literacy and maths are documented in over 400 published research and school case studies.
Fast ForWord has improved results in Australian and New Zealand schools. Here are two you can read about:
Education leaders have the option to implement a program that is:
- Evidence based
- Able to improve results fast – implement in 2017, see improved results same year
- Relatively inexpensive compared to other options
Shift the bell curve of school results
We know we can shift the bell curve of Australian school results via educational neuroscience, just like we helped a NSW primary school double their expected “teaching as usual" reading gains.