We have realised that, in order to help more of our students build better futures, we need to develop in them skills that are readily adaptable to the changing social, cultural and technological worlds in which they live—not narrowly context-specific skills, but generic, work-related skills emanating from a well- designed and well-delivered curriculum.
This is not new There have long been demands on school systems to produce senior secondary school graduates with attributes of learning that, in some cases, are transferable from one context to another. What is new is the motive for reporting performance levels in these skills.
Australian Government Commissioned ACER (2007) to produce a workable framework for assessing and reporting employability skills of senior school students
Politics 2002 – Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Council of Australia (2002) identified eight employability skills within the Employability Skills Framework 2006 – Minister for Education, Science and Training released the ACER report, Australian Certificate of Education: Exploring a way forward, in which it was recommended that schools and education authorities give priority to developing and recognising young people’s progress in relation to the eight employability skills –Key recommendations related to curriculum content and achievement standards across the country
Objectives of the study To identify and consider appropriate methods for the assessment and reporting, on a nationally comparable basis, of Year 12 students’ achievement in relation to the eight employability skills specified To ensure that the proposed methods for assessment and reporting are valid, reliable, objective, feasible, usable, and nationally comparable To ensure that the proposed methods for assessment and reporting can evidence the employability skills already embedded in curriculum and pedagogy.
Challenges for ACER research The nature of employability skills The assessability of employability skills
Background Past forays into testing generic skills have been successful (QCS Test, Rich Tasks) Past forays into assessing and reporting Employability Skills have not been successful –Over-theorising of the constructs –Variation of meaning according to context and culture –Parity of esteem in the rhetoric but not reality –Lack of willingness to accommodate more information on senior certificates (‘busy’ teachers and schools)
Generic, work-related skills have been called different things in different countries. Terms are often used interchangeably but are not the same. Various constructs have been developed in the past 20 years.
UKCore skills, key skills, common skills New ZealandEssential skills AustraliaKey competencies, employability skills, generic skills, core skills, transdisciplinary skills, repertoires of practice CanadaEmployability skills USABasic skills, necessary skills, workplace know-how SingaporeCritical enabling skills FranceTransferable skills SwitzerlandTransdisciplinary goals South AfricaCritical cross-field outcomes
Classification of work-related skills basic, core, key or foundational skills (communication and numeracy) domains or kinds of activity (IT, systems) kinds of thinking (e.g. problem solving) personal skills, qualities, or attributes (e.g. resilience)
No model exists upon which to base an Australian assessment and reporting system for Employability Skills
Employability skills framework Communication Technology Problem-solving Teamwork Initiative and enterprise Planning and organisation Self-management Learning
Evaluation Model Standardised testing Common tasks Performance Embedded developmental Portfolio Holistic teacher judgment Other Criteria Validity Reliability Objectivity Feasibility Usability +(Fit for purpose)
Possible conclusions These skills do not lend themselves to assessment. With reasonable funding, it is appropriate to assess employability skills on a large scale with pen-and- paper tests. A model of holistic teacher judgment is appropriate: –Practised in Queensland 1982–present (teacher, discipline- specific) –As trialled in Victoria 2002–06 (teachers/overall on disciplines) –Trialled in Queensland 2000−04 (teachers/transdisciplinary)
Interim preferred model Teachers work in teams to arrive at a judgment about a given student’s demonstration of each Employability Skill across subject areas. Thus, the basis for an Australian assessment and reporting system for Employability Skills is holistic teacher judgment.