Mastering the challenge of literacy, numeracy and science education: a critical analysis of the Masters Report

Vick, Melissa, and Lim, Lai Kuan (2010) Mastering the challenge of literacy, numeracy and science education: a critical analysis of the Masters Report. In: Proceedings of AARE 2009 International Education Research Conference. pp. 1-19. From: AARE 2009 International Education Research Conference, 29 November - 3 December 2009, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

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The recently released Masters Report, A Shared Challenge: Improving Literacy, Numeracy and Science Learning in Queensland Primary Schools, responds to the Queensland government's concern about the state's poor performance in the 2008 NAPLAN and 2007 TIMMS tests. The report contextualises and analyses the problem and formulated five recommendations which are currently under consideration by government.

This paper analyses the Report as a policy document. It draws on understandings of policy as strategic and tactical responses to political contingencies, and an analytical approach which focuses on the ways policies define that problem they appear simply to address. Thus, it seeks to illuminate how the Report frames and represents the 'problems' of, and its recommendations for education reform in Queensland.

We draw attention to the Report's discursive strategies for establishing the truth of its account of the problem, and the relations among different aspects that account, and its recommended solutions. We considers its use of research literature and statistical data, its use of comparative methods, its own primary 'field' data, the relations between the comparator countries and the sources used as models for solutions to the problems. The Report's methodological tools constitute practical strategies for establishing its own regime of truth, which sets the conditions for the acceptance and implementation of its preferred policies and practices.

The paper argues that the Report's representation of Queensland's education performance constructs student performance as an issue of teaching quality and a domain of accountability. While the Report recognises a range of social and systemic factors shaping the results, it disregards these in both its definition of the problem and its formulation of recommendations; this involves slippage between analytical considerations of 'truth' and political concern about 'acceptability'. By placing social context out of the frame of analysis, the Report sets the conditions for privileging of particular policy choices, as exemplified by the five recommendations which are directed at teachers' training, practice, and growth. This analysis, then, illuminates the way the Report forecloses a range of alternative or complementary policy responses to the state of education in Queensland and opens up space for continued discussion of those alternatives.

Item ID: 16260
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
Keywords: research, NaPLAN, literacy, numberacy, policy
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Date Deposited: 12 May 2011 04:24
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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