SYMPOSIUM 6: Recent curriculum and assessment reforms in Australia

A large amount of curriculum and assessment reform has occurred in Australia over the past eight years. Much collaborative effort was expended to agree on a statement of national goals for education and to develop more detailed statements of agreed curriculum content in eight key learning areas. Profiles of desired outcomes were also developed to guide assessment of students' learning in each area. This work culminated in the draft Curriculum Statements and Profiles for Australian Schools, released in 1993. Since that time the Australian States and Territories have each examined the national documents and adopted them in very varying ways in their own systems (in Australia, education is constitutionally a State matter).

The symposium will feature four research-based papers, discussing issues of implementation of the statements and profiles from a range of perspectives: Lokan and Frigo, from a national perspective, will give a brief historical account of developments since 1988 and present some results of an Australia-wide 1996 survey of schools seeking teachers' views of the profiles and their influence on the teachers' current assessment practices,

Smith and Frigo will present a State perspective, from South Australia where substantial progress has been made in implementing the reforms, including some results from a state wide survey of schools carried out in late 1995.

Kennedy, Simic and Tabin will describe their research on implementation processes from the perspective of a central authority, the Australian Capital Territory, in relation to the knowledge and perceptions of teachers in some case study schools in the ACT, from a three-year project funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). Marland, Sturman and Forlin, from the same ARC project, will focus on implementation processes from the perspective of an education region in Southern Queensland, presenting results from detailed interviews of regional education officers and of school administrators, key teachers and parent representatives from three schools in the region.