Education system ‘incentivises lower expectations’ in STEM

Jul 16
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Australia’s education system rewards students for poor performance in maths and science, Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel told the Australian Science Teachers Association national conference at the beginning of July.

“Wherever I look at the education system, I see incentives to lower our expectations,” he said.

“Why study maths at the advanced level if your ATAR will be higher if you stick with intermediate? Why study maths or science at all, if you can get into your chosen university course without it, because there are no prerequisites to get in the way? Students ask these questions of career counsellors every day.”

Plans for the next three years

Dr Finkel is currently working on an online guide to STEM teaching tools, which will complement the STEM Program Index already published by the Chief Scientist’s office. He said the resource would take the form of a Tripadvisor-style portal, where teachers could post and search detailed reviews of different STEM teaching tools.

He also has plans for an aspirational awards program for schools that improve their maths and science teaching. “I want to see recognition for schools that commit to getting better, regardless of where they start,” he said.

Science and maths in Australian secondary schools

Last week the Office of the Chief Scientist released a datasheet on science and maths in secondary schools, highlighting declining figures in student performance and participation in STEM subjects.

STEM datasheet

View the full sheet here.

The next conference in the Improving STEM Education series takes place in Sydney in March 2017.  Attend for practical strategies, in-depth case studies and interactive sessions you can take back to the classroom. 

STEM 2017

Submitted by Jessica Farrelly

Jessica Farrelly

Jessica is part of the marketing team at Criterion, specialising in content and social media. Originally from Ireland, she’s an avid traveller and moved to Sydney after a year spent living out of a backpack in Asia.

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