Principals Pen Monday, 29 Oct 2018

What constitutes student achievement? In which fields do we apply the term student achievement? Is it a term that refers to academia? Or to something else? Or maybe to a multitude of arenas?

We can make the mistake of aligning student achievement with academic benchmarks. This approach pegs our organic, colourful and unique children into a structured world of black-and-white. It puts them on a cookie-cutting assembly line and detracts from the fact that every child is different. Can you imagine all 30-year-olds wearing the same-sized t-shirt? In the same way that people grow physically at different paces and that body shapes differ from person to person, children develop academically at different paces, and gifts and obstructions differ from child to child.

The Australian Government requires schools to report against a five-point scale. At Living Faith, the five-point scale is shown as:

  1. requires explicit support;
  2. working towards the standard
  3. at the standard;
  4. above the standard; and
  5. well above the standard.
We can make the mistake of believing that Child A who achieves ‘well above the standard’ is performing well, while Child B who achieves ‘working towards the standard’ is under-performing. How wrong we are to make assumptions. It may be the case that Child A is not giving their best and should be performing even higher. It may be the case that Child B received ‘requires explicit support’ earlier in the year and had to work inconceivably hard to achieve ‘working towards the standard’. In short, in this circumstance, Child B has demonstrated the greater student achievement. In fact, Child B is demonstrating skills in perseverance and spirit that will serve him/her well in adulthood, whereas Child A is found under a cloud of complacency and runs the risk of not building stamina and determination that will be advantageous in later life.

At Living Faith, achievement is centred around growth and improvement. When children set high expectations for themselves and meet goals that require stretch and exertion, we know they are maximising potential and achieving to their highest standard.

Student reports will be distributed at the end of this term. In the lead-up to this time, consider which type of student achievement you will draw attention to. Focus first and foremost on the ‘effort’ and ‘behaviour’ scores for each learning area. While individual strengths and weaknesses impact a child’s academic attainment, outstanding effort is a clear indicator that your child is achieving.

- Jane Mueller, Principal