Extra-curricular activities and other skills should be listed alongside a student’s academic achievements, according to a newly released paper that suggests a drastic overhaul of Australia’s education system – calling for the ATAR to be replaced with a Learner Profile.
Commissioned by Australian Learning Lecture, Beyond ATAR: A Proposal for Change offers three inter-locking recommendations designed to improve the experience and life outcomes of young people.
Changing how we identify and measure student capabilities, by providing a fuller reflection of student achievement – rather than a single number, the ATAR, to reflect a student’s schooling is among these recommendations.
Instead of an ATAR, a Learner Profile would be used to provide a “common way of representing the full range of attainments of young people during their transition years (within school and beyond) across a broad range of domains.”
The paper argues that the ATAR encourages young people to compete for a ranking, with students spending their final two years of school focusing on a number rather than developing broader skills. It adds that the 70 per cent of students who either don’t go on to university or don’t use their ATAR score for university “are subjected to narrow curriculum areas and stressful forms of high stakes assessment for little gain.”
Founder of the Australian Learning Lecture, Ellen Koshland, said the ATAR disadvantaged students who weren’t confident learners as it doesn’t recognise those who excel in particular areas while performing adequately in others. “We need to start measuring what counts for young people’s future,” she said.
The paper also proposes that the ages of 15-19 are seen as a specific developmental phase of education. During this stage, it says young people should be supported to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities across various domains.
And in its third recommendation, the paper states that tertiary education providers should update their admission processes “to better align candidates’ interests, capabilities and aspirations with the educational opportunities on offer, and better reflect evidence about the progress and potential of learners.”
It states that tertiary education providers should provide a broader, more transparent set of entry criteria that is better aligned with the student’s interests, skills and aspirations in relation to the educational opportunities offered.
“Together these proposals are a significant change for the education system – and an opportunity to ensure that each young person is supported with up to date information to develop a map to the future based on their interests and strengths,” said Ms Koshland.
“It is time to challenge ATAR because it is outmoded and does not allow for development and recognition of skills needed to thrive in a changing world.”