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Benefits of future-ready school approaches

New research suggests it is time to move away from ATAR as a measure of student success and recognise its limited value to many students.

Drawing insights from schools, universities, and various partners nationwide, Learning Beyond Limits: Insights and learnings from visionary schools and communities working toward a fit-for-purpose learning system reveals a paradigm shift, recognising skills and capabilities beyond traditional ATAR metrics.

CEO of Learning Creates Australia, Bronwyn Lee, said the report was about highlighting educators who are challenging the status quo in order to deliver better results for more students in the long term.

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“Whilst congratulations are due to the young people who top the (ATAR) ladder … we know success is more than this,” she said. 

“The reality is less than 25 percent of young people use their ATAR as a mechanism for university entry. For the other 75 percent, it has no functional use. And this is a problem, because it also drives what is taught in schools as well as how learning is delivered.

“The ATAR results, alongside Australia’s PISA results, serve as a stark reminder that our current education system falls short for many young people, particularly those most vulnerable, while burnout among dedicated educators is at crisis point.”

In contrast, the report highlights that students become more engaged in learning when future-oriented skills like critical thinking including problem solving, ethical behaviour and resilience, and communication are acknowledged alongside foundational skills and knowledge. The shift is especially pronounced when students feel agency in their learning.

“Just knowing things is not enough, employers are actively seeking young people who can confidently recognise and articulate their capabilities.

Our early research demonstrates that embracing a different approach empowers students to do just that,” said Lee. “Moreover, this approach opens doors to a future beyond ATAR, providing students with a broader perspective on life after school.”

Innovative approaches highlighted in the report include new assessment methods, partnering with industries to identify a wider array of skills within students and utilising online platforms and learner profiles to map and recognise diverse student capabilities. The research also unveils benefits for teachers who are embracing new ways of working, finding the freedom to focus on supporting each student rather than just covering content.

However the report highlights that for these transformative approaches to succeed, teachers require guidance, time, space, and encouragement to refine and implement diverse assessment methods.

“This report comes at a pivotal moment in Australian education and paves the way for a more inclusive, engaging, and future-ready learning environment, but there is more work to be done,” she said. “We know there are many more examples of work like this and we want to capture it in future analysis so we can push for the systemic change that is needed to recognise more for every student and advocate for what teachers need to deliver this change on the ground.”

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School News is not affiliated with any government agency, body or political party. We are an independently owned, family-operated magazine.

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