A MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL

 

ASSESSMENT AT BETHANY COLLEGE

Thanks to all the parents who recently completed the Parent Satisfaction Survey for 2017. The Leadership Team and other teams in the College will be reflecting on your input in order to make our College the best learning environment it can be.

I was disappointed to read the negative feedback on our policy at the College to reduce the number of summative assessment tasks to one per semester per course with a focus on formative assessment experiences that occur daily each day. I would like to reiterate that we have based our policy on the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) advice to schools about Assessment and in particular, the changes to the HSC that will commence with Year 11 (2018). The old-style formulaic questions will cease to exist and each school’s assessment program can only have one exam-style assessment per annum per subject. Take home assignments, in-class experiences, field-work, research studies, that is, application of content to the real world, needs to take a stronger focus.

Our assessment policy seeks to start our students out from day one in Year 7 on the same footing they will be required to adopt in Years 11 and 12. The new HSC Assessment guidelines that school’s need to comply with as of Year 11 (2018) are included below.

NEW HSC ASSESSMENT GUIDELINES (FROM Y11, 2018)

New, rigorous guidelines for effective school-based Higher School Certificate (HSC) assessment will be introduced for all Stage 6 Board Developed Courses (excluding VET, Life Skills and Content Endorsed Courses) from 2018 (Year 11 students) and 2019 (Year 12 students).

The school-based assessment guidelines will be tougher to prevent plagiarism and cheating and help reduce student stress caused by over-assessment.

Reducing stress

To reduce excessive stress and allow more time for teaching and learning, school-based assessment tasks will be capped at three per course in Year 11 and four per course in Year 12 (including the HSC trial examination).

Research, including from Hong Kong, shows fewer and more targeted assessment tasks are more effective in giving feedback to teachers about their students’ strengths and weaknesses. As a result, Hong Kong has restructured its school-based assessment tasks.

Reducing plagiarism and cheating

Redesigned HSC examination questions will help reduce formulaic, pre-prepared responses and cheating. Stricter guidelines will assure the authorship of take-home assessments and projects.

Why change assessment?

The final HSC examinations form 50 per cent of a student’s final HSC marks.

In its consultation, NSW Education Standards Authority (at the time BOSTES) found that teachers, parents and students reported that Year 11 and Year 12 students experienced assessment fatigue. Some schools are using school assessments as a way to motivate students, or to ensure they attempt work. This means students can have up to six assessment tasks per course in each year. For example, a student with five 2 Unit courses can have 25–30 assessment tasks over three terms – roughly one a week on average.

In reality, assessment tasks are clustered at similar points of the school year. From the student perspective, every assessment task counts, whether it is worth 5 per cent or 25 per cent. The assessments are not always single tasks, such as one essay, and often comprise subtasks that require a substantial amount of work to complete.

Students often feel compelled to choose to do “what’s due next”, or “what’s worth more”. Some assessment tasks replicate previous HSC examination questions, either in the form of an essay, or mimicking the examination. This limits the variety of tasks used to assess student knowledge and skills.

Fewer assessment tasks will allow schools to spend more time teaching the knowledge and skills in a course, and shift the focus from superficial learning just for the examination.

Will HSC examination questions change?

The final HSC examinations held every year will continue. They will also continue to form 50 per cent of a student’s final HSC marks.

However, HSC examination questions will change to help reduce cheating and plagiarism.

Some HSC examination questions are very similar every year. Teaching and learning can become formulaic in reflecting this.

HSC examination questions will be less predictable so students must apply their knowledge and skills in their answers.

Students repeatedly practise their essay writing skills (particularly in English and History), resulting in pre prepared and memorised essays. Some schools set the previous HSC essay questions for homework tasks, or under examination conditions for the HSC trial examination.

Memorising key facts and skills, such as times tables and quotations, is important, however memorising entire essays to adapt and reproduce in an examination is a narrow demonstration of a student’s application of knowledge and skills.

Marking mathematics

English is examined against a common scale to allow comparison of students doing easier or harder courses.

Placing mathematics courses on a common scale would act as a disincentive for capable students who deliberately choose easier courses for a perceived ATAR advantage.

The common scale would allow better recognition of student efforts and encourage them to take a mathematics course that better suits their ability. NESA is currently researching options for a common scale.

 

PARENTING STRATEGIES FOR GIRLS

Here are 21 parenting strategies guaranteed to meet the diverse needs of the girls in your life and assist in boosting self-esteem and encourage better communication. In a culture that’s so image-based, it can be difficult for girls to develop the self-confidence needed to become strong, independent risk-takers who learn from their mistakes and who think of others.

  1. Develop positive self-talk

Our girls can be experts at talking themselves down. It takes practice to change the patterns of negative self-talk. Mothers, in particular, need to be aware of their self-talk when your daughters are around. Teach her about the language of affirmation and be kind to yourself when your daughters are around.

  1. Teach them to think beyond themselves

Some of the most confident girls and young women we know at Parenting Ideas are those who invest time in others, whether that be volunteering, raising funds for those in need, or helping siblings when they need a hand. Not only do girls take more learning risks when they assist others, they develop a range of high-level traits such as tolerance, patience and acceptance.

  1. Foster journaling

Journaling is a great way for a girl to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe way, helping her navigate the changing landscape of her life. Some girls journal on social media, but lack of privacy of the digital world leaves many girls exposed.

  1. Encourage girls to use I-statements

Girls can struggle to stand up for themselves, particularly girls who are brought up to be ‘good girls.’ Learning to use I-statements empowers girls to take responsibility for communicating how they feel. I-statements are strong statements which help your daughter express her feelings appropriately.

The script for I-statements is:  “When you… (went to the movies with those girls) I feel/felt …(angry) because… (I was left out of the group) . I would like…(you to let me know next time, rather than keep it a secret).

  1. Help her find her voice at home

Through many experiences, many girls learn to suppress their thoughts and feelings because that’s what good girls do. ‘Be seen and not heard’ applies more to girls than boys. Help your daughter express her thoughts and needs at home, by starting with small problems. She doesn’t always have to compromise to keep the peace. Encourage your daughter to speak up at home and be vigilant about stamping disrespectful put-downs that may come from siblings when she does speak up.

Making and keeping friends

Girls are more relational by nature than boys. Friendships are the greatest sense of pleasure as well as their most intense source of pain for most girls.

  1. Give girls social scripts

Help your daughters develop social scripts she’ll need for all sorts of situations from a four-year-old meeting new friends at pre-school to an eighteen-year-old negotiating No when in a compromising personal situation. Give girls the language they need to be social and safe in a variety of situations along their path to womanhood.

  1. Encourage perspective taking

Many girls, particularly eldest girls in families, can be inflexible in their thinking and have difficulty understanding viewpoints that are different to their own.  Debating two sides of a topic or argument with your daughter is a great way to develop more flexible, empathetic thinking that’s so helpful when keeping friendships.

  1. Play the game

Team sports help girls develop many valuable friendship skills including teamwork, cooperation, encouragement, resolving conflict and leadership. Encourage your daughter’s involvement in at least one group activity or sport.

  1. Differentiate between friendships and a clique

Start a conversation about friendships with your daughter before she moves into puberty. In particular, talk about how a good friend acts and discuss the difference between a friendship group and a clique. The former is a supportive, healthy group whereas the latter is restrictive and unhealthy.

  1. Teach the skills of optimism

Girls can be really hard on themselves when they fail. They are more likely to blame themselves when they fail than boys. This is a strength (taking responsibility) and a weakness (leading to perfectionism). Teach your daughters the skills of optimism so that they think of their failures and successes in ways that foster confidence, mastery and flourishing mental health.

Girls and technology

The ever-changing landscape of the Internet provides many challenges for parents of girls.

  1. Safety comes first

It’s a parent’s job to keep her daughter safe in both the real world and the digital world – this is made more difficult with geotagging, flaming and cyber-bullying. Develop a digital safety plan with your daughter that includes social media, entertainment and learning.

  1. Take some time out

Girls with Internet connected devices are never alone. Mental health experts are now linking this hyper connectivity to anxiety and depression. Insist your daughter takes some time out from online activities on a daily basis. Small, regular breaks prevent the need for digital detoxes that many internet-addicted girls (and guys) need for them to maintain a semblance of balance.

Promoting healthy body image

Body image has been placed in the top three concerns for teenage girls every year in the last eight years. But body image is also a primary school issue with 80% of ten year olds citing that they are afraid of being fat.

  1. Encourage involvement in pursuits that don’t involve image

We need to encourage girls to value their bodies for what they can do, not just how they look. Encourage your daughter to become involved in pursuits that aren’t image-based such as team sports, rock climbing, water sports and also activities that help them explore their skill such as writing, singing and music.

  1. Call the media out on its portrayal of the perfect body

You’ve got to talk to your daughters about how the media portrays the perfect female form through film, television and advertising. Discuss the notion of digital alteration in the media including how and why this happens.

  1. Model healthy eating and self-care

You can’t be what you can’t see. As a mother, monitor your self-talk about your own body shape, complexion and weight. Provide your daughter with a soundtrack that’s forgiving of imperfection and caring for your own well-being.

Girl-friendly tips for mothers

The bond between mother and daughter is truly unique. The mother-daughter relationship is one that has far reaching effects on the development and socialisation of girls throughout their lifetime. Increasing the emotional connection between mothers and daughters can foster mutual support.

  1. Fracture the good girl image

Allow your daughters to make mistakes and to be okay with saying No. Don’t expect your daughter to always subjugate her own needs to accommodate the needs of others. Replace Good Girl with Strong/Caring/Loving Girl.

  1. Help her find her passion

Cast a wide net and encourage your daughter to discover her passions. Some girls take longer than others but once they find their passion (also known as ‘spark’) they will literally use that as the springboard to develop a range of skills and interests that will stay for life.

  1. Express yourself

Show your daughter it’s okay to express a full range of emotions rather than bottle them up. Anger, sadness and fear are just as legitimate to express as happiness, pride and joy.

Girl-friendly tips for fathers

Fathers affect the lives of their daughters in intriguing ways. A well-fathered daughter is most likely to have relationships with men that are emotionally intimate and fulfilling, and have better emotional and mental health.

  1. Make a connection

One of the most natural ways a father can make a connection with his daughter is through purposeful physical affection. Fathers are also naturally more inclined to engage their daughters physically. Daughters need more than just everyday gestures given in passing, they need opportunities to be involved on physical play. It helps to stress-proof them and creates a zest for life.

  1. Listen without fixing

Fathers tend to communicate with a clear purpose and problem solving focus. Girls are feelings focused and want to create a shared understanding. Listening is essential for every father, even though it sometimes goes against his instincts.

  1. Be a positive male role model

As a girl tries to figure out what men are like, the first one she watches is her father. As her father, you play a large role in showing her what a proper, respectful male response sounds like and feels like. Show her at home that she is accepted and appreciated, and this empowers her to make competent decisions. With such a positive reference point, she’ll learn what to expect from the men she meets.

These are just a sample of the hundreds of practical girl-friendly parenting strategies in a popular Parenting Girls course that’s now available online.

(by Michael Grose at https://www.parentingideas.com.au/2017/11/21-girl-friendly-parenting-tips-and-strategies/

 

 

Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”

 

 

Vicki Lavorato

Principal