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Middle Years of Schooling (Years 5-8)

Middle Years of Schooling (Years 5-8)

How does your state/territory define the 'middle years'?
What initiatives/programs are currently being implemented in the 'middle years' in your state or territory?
What are some of the current issues being addressed in your state/territory?

How does your state/territory define the 'middle years'?

One of the stages of learning identified in the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) is Years 5 to 8 which focus on building breadth and depth across the curriculum. In these years students progress beyond the foundations and their literacy and numeracy becomes more developed. An expanded curriculum program provides the basis for in depth learning within all domains in the three learning strands of the VELS.

The term 'middle years of schooling' applies to students from Years 5 to 8. The VELS Level 4 is broadly associated with Years 5 and 6 of schooling and Level 5 is broadly associated with Years 7 and 8 of schooling.

For further information about this stage of learning see
http://vels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/stages/yrs5to8/index.html

The flexibility and range of options provided at Levels 4 and 5 of the VELS allows for different organisational arrangements, grouping practices, integrated curriculum and vertical and block timetabling–all approaches typically used to encourage students to exercise choices or explore different emphases within the VELS.

What initiatives/programs are currently being implemented in the 'middle years' in your state or territory?

All government schools in Victoria belong to a cluster of primary and secondary schools that supports improvement in literacy, numeracy and engagement in the middle years. The Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme funds professional learning on coaching and leading professional learning for cluster coordinators.

A large range of resources is available to schools through the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) Middle Years website http://www.education.vic.gov.au/studentlearning/default.htm. Resources include:

 

Most current initiatives and programs are targeted from Prep to Year 10. These include a range of initiatives to support the implementation of the VELS in schools and improve student learning.

As part of a key strategy focusing on Student Learning in the Blueprint for Government Schools released in November 2003, the VELS was developed as the basis for curriculum and assessment in Victorian schools from 2006. This was a major curriculum reform and as such has required considerable implementation support. Other key initiatives of the Student Learning strategy that support teachers in providing quality curriculum and assessment include curriculum planning guidelines, comprehensive assessment advice and a new student report card.

Implementation support for the VELS provided by the DEECD also includes:

English, Mathematics and Science continuums

The English, Mathematics and Science Developmental Continuums P–10 provides evidence-based indicators of progress, linked to teaching strategies, aligned to the progression points and the standards for the relevant VELS domain. These teaching strategies are designed to support purposeful teaching of individuals and small groups of students with similar learning needs. It is intended that teachers use the strategies in the context of their own classrooms, text or topic being taught.

Literacy Professional Learning Resource and professional learning program

The online Literacy Professional Learning Resource provides support and guidelines for effective practice for classroom teachers and school leaders.

This resource supports:

  • all classroom teachers to deepen their understanding of literacy. This will inform their planning for literacy learning and assessment for all domains of the VELS
  • literacy leaders in schools to plan opportunities for professional learning for the whole staff, in professional learning teams and/or for individual teachers.

 

The professional learning program which reflects the Literacy Online Resource has been provided to support leadership teams in schools to lead improved literacy practice in every classroom. The initiative builds capacity within school leadership teams to establish priorities, analyse student results and measure student progress; improve the quality of learning and teaching; manage and deploy resources; and strengthen professional learning.

Literacy Improvement Team initiative

The Literacy Improvement Team initiative which commenced in 2007 is providing intensive assistance to identified schools through the employment of literacy specialists. Schools identified through statewide testing data at Years 3, 5 and 7 as having significant numbers of students at Years 3 to 8 not achieving expected literacy levels are involved in this initiative.

The initiative provides intensive assistance to identified schools to bring about the changes in classroom practice that are necessary to accelerate the literacy performance of all students to at or above expected levels in all domains of learning. The initiative builds the capacity of individual teachers to analyse student results and measure student progress, therefore improving the quality of learning and teaching and strengthening professional learning. Literacy Specialists work ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with classroom teachers in identified schools to model, coach and mentor effective teaching practice, and assist with diagnostic intervention and assessment of literacy performance.

Teaching and Learning Coaches with a focus on Maths and Science

This initiative will provide funding to employ 250 highly effective Teaching and Learning Coaches with a focus on supporting the implementation of the Mathematics and Science Strategy and the Ultranet* across the state. They will provide in-classroom coaching of teachers in identified schools. The focus will be on building teacher capacity to provide purposeful teaching through high quality supported planning and delivery of curriculum from P–12.

*(The Ultranet is an intuitive student-centred electronic learning environment that supports high quality learning and teaching, connects students, teachers and parents and enables efficient knowledge transfer.)

Secondary Maths Professional Learning Program

The Secondary Mathematics Professional Learning Resource provides support and guidelines for effective practice for classroom teachers and school leaders of mathematics, especially from Years 7–10.

This resource is for:

  • all secondary mathematics classroom teachers to deepen their understanding of mathematics. This will inform their planning for mathematics and assessment for all domains of the VELS.
  • mathematics leaders in schools to plan opportunities for professional learning for the teachers of mathematics, in professional learning teams and/or for individual teachers.

 

Fractions and Decimals Online Interview for Years 4–10

The Fractions and Decimals Online Interview provides a new tool for assessing middle years students’ mathematical development in the areas of fractions, decimals, percentage and ratio. It is designed to be used with students operating at levels 4–6 (Years 4–10) in these areas of Mathematics.

The interview is designed to be completed one on one. It comprises 20 questions and sub-questions and should take approximately 30 minutes to conduct. Awarding a task requires that the students use an appropriate strategy, not just give the correct answer.

What are some of the current issues being addressed in your state/territory?

Continuing to build the capacity of teachers and school leaders to improve student outcomes is a major issue in the middle years through the provision of appropriate resources and professional learning related to learning outcomes, engagement and wellbeing, and transitions and pathways.

Major initiatives to support improved outcomes in these years include implementation support for the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) and the Principles of Learning and Teaching. There is also a focus on improving teacher consistency of assessment using the standards and progression points, improving assessment strategies through a range of assessment advice and for reporting to parents.

Key issues for teachers include professional learning around incorporating into their teaching, learning and assessment programs domains from the Interdisciplinary and Physical, Personal and Social learning strands, for example, Interpersonal Development, Personal Learning, Thinking Processes and Communication. Improvement of student outcomes in literacy, mathematics and science is a key focus as outlined in the initiatives and programs above.

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