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Australia Australian students 'among the worst in the world' for class discipline

20:55  04 december  2019
20:55  04 december  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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Australian classrooms are among the least disciplined in the world, according to a global survey, with a high proportion of students saying their learning time is lost to noise and disorder and they cannot work well in class.

Australia ranked a lowly 70th out of 77 participating nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 2018 index of disciplinary climate, released on Wednesday.

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The index is based on an international survey of 600,000 15-year-old students’ views about the level of discipline in the classroom, with a high proportion of Australian students reporting that the teacher is not listened to and it regularly takes a long time for the class to quieten down.

The only countries that fared worse than Australia for classroom unruliness were Belgium, the Philippines, Spain, Greece, France, Brazil and Argentina.

South Korean students were the best-behaved on the index, followed by Kazakhstan, Albania, China and Japan.

The index is part of the OECD’s triennial Programme for International Student Assessment, in which Australia also recorded its worst results in reading, maths and science.

For most countries, classroom discipline improved between 2009 and 2018, the OECD report said.

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But Australia was one of a minority of countries where it deteriorated, with a higher proportion of students reporting that the teacher has to wait a long time for students to settle down, that students cannot work well and that they don’t start learning for a long time after the lesson begins.

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a woman standing in front of a crowd: Australia has ranked 70th out of 77 participating nations for classroom discipline.© Shutterstock Australia has ranked 70th out of 77 participating nations for classroom discipline. The results also revealed a gender split, with all-girl classes and mixed classes that were more than 60 per cent girls reporting better discipline than all-boy classes or classes with more than 60 per cent boys.

Associate Professor Jihyun Lee of UNSW Sydney, an expert on large-scale assessments such as PISA, said the result suggested Australia needed to seriously address the issue of classroom discipline.

“We are basically among the worst in the world and that has been ignored,” she said.

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“If students don’t want to listen to what the teacher says, if there is noise and disorder in a learning space, and if a teacher has to wait for a long time for students to quiet down, how can we expect students to learn effectively in school?”

East Asian countries consistently ranked higher on the index than wealthy Western nations, just as they mostly outranked them on reading, maths and science.

“An Asian country is high on discipline because that’s what they think a school is for. A lot of rich countries are low on discipline,” Associate Professor Lee said.

But she cautioned that the OECD report did not make a direct link between Australia’s poor ranking on the index of disciplinary climate and its slipping academic performance.

The survey found Australian teachers regularly face an environment that is noisy and disordered.

The results were based on students’ responses to a series of statements: students don’t listen to what the teacher says; there is noise and disorder; the teacher has to wait a long time for students to quiet down; students cannot work well; students don’t start working for a long time after the lesson begins.

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A total of 42.9 per cent of Australian students reported there was noise and disorder in most or all of their classes, compared with an OECD average of 31.5 per cent.

Julie Podbury, the Australian Principals’ Federation Victorian branch president, said the results did not match her impression of schools.

“When I go into schools I see order, so I find it very hard to reconcile that ranking with what I see,” Ms Podbury said.

In the broader PISA test, Australian students met the OECD average for mathematical literacy – their worst result in the test’s history – and were above average for reading and science.

But the consistent pattern was one of decline, putting today’s 15-year-old students about one year behind where they were at the turn of the millennium.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said the nation needed to do better.

“We have to get back to putting literacy and numeracy at the base of everything that we do,” Mr Tehan said. “And we have got to make sure that when it comes to our education system, we allow our teachers to teach.”

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