UN professor says school tests need review

FORMER United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) official Professor Colin Power has suggested that current literacy and numeracy tests in Australian primary schools be reviewed during a recent visit to the University of Southern Queensland's (USQ) education faculty.

Emeritus Professor Power, who is the now director of Eidos, an independent research institute and think-tank which is committed to educational and social reform, said the quality of the tests and how the results were used should be re-evaluated.

“Like all tests like this, there are problems with them so the important thing is that we minimise these issues,” Professor Power said.

“What we need to do is improve the quality of these tests and also how the data from them are used.

“The results have to help us distinguish the most effective way to improve our education systems.”

Following low scores on the tests by Queensland students in the past few years, concerns have been raised by parents and the government.

Professor Power said this kind of discussion was inevitable when tests like these were introduced to any education system.

“Education is always very topical and its direction will always change with government policy,” he said.

“I don't think that these tests are necessarily a negative thing but, as I said, the results must be used to assist us in improving education.”

At the university to present a seminar on the future of education, Professor Power, who prior to working for Eidos spent 12 years in Paris as a UNESCO official, also said that there were many obstacles facing future educators.

“My seminar discussed the challenges facing university education graduates and how they are going to educate students in the future.

“These challenges include things like social cohesion and conflict and making sure that we have education for sustainable development and global citizenship. There are lots of issues and we must work out the role education can play.”

The seminar also discussed the qualities required of graduates to assume leadership roles in their chosen profession and the wider community.

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