A new piece in Australian Council for Education Research’s (ACER) magazine points to the work of ACER’s Centre for Assessment Reform and Innovation (CARI). CARI is developing ways to assess general capabilities. This, in itself, is interesting, given the results of the Gonski 2.0 review and its call for assessment based on learning progressions in a range of areas, including the so-called general capabilities. It is particularly interesting given that ACER is headed by Geoff Masters who, in a striking piece of foresight, was able to preempt the review’s conclusions back in March.
Of course, no such robust assessments have ever been created, because you can’t assess something that doesn’t really exist. Nevertheless, ACER are keen to develop them, if only, according to the new magazine article, ‘to correct the perception that such skills are so nebulous and elusive that they simply cannot be assessed’. I look forward to having my perception corrected.
And what do these assessments involve? Funny you should ask:
“Despite slow progress in this area of research, it is moving. In particular, there is a large movement around teaching general capabilities using problem-based or inquiry-based learning – most likely because problem solving is one of the most frequently mentioned ‘in demand’ skills and features consistently across frameworks…
Work has already begun in trialling this new, classroom-based assessment in Australian schools, using a Year 8 collaborative problem-based learning task about refugee resettlement. An additional STEM-based problem context at Year 8 – as well as new Humanities- and STEM-based tasks at Grade 5 – are currently in development to be trialled later in the year.”
Inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning are ineffective. So when you are ideologically wedded to them, you need to keep inventing new reasons for their pursuit. The general capabilities appear to be the latest such reason.