Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Jim Spithill and I am a Research Fellow in the Assessment and Reporting team for mathematics at ACER. The team has nine members, spanning Early Years to Senior Secondary, and with combined classroom experience well in excess of a century.
Tell us about yourself.
I was always intending to be a teacher, and I have worked in a variety of schools and sectors, with some short-term detours along the way. My pathway has pretty much followed the expected progression from the graduate, learning on the job and worrying whether I would ever get it right; to proficient, feeling comfortable in what I was doing and enjoying watching students grow in confidence with mathematics; to almost a mentor role in recent years, giving back through engagement with my professional teaching association. I started at ACER in 2010 as a test developer. I work in a wide range of assessments at all levels and with both local and international focus. My belief is that good assessments inform good teaching, which then enables improved student learning.
I read a lot in a variety of genres: I prefer to let my imagination go to work, rather than rely on the vision pre-packaged in movies, for example. I have a keen interest in the breeding and racing of thoroughbred horses; this includes having a flutter most Saturdays.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Toby (Newton, in the Online School Assessments team) expressed it very well in his recent profile: working with such lovely, passionate and knowledgeable colleagues and feeling like I’m playing a small part in helping teachers in their important work.
And the worst?
Weeks when there are deadlines in seven different projects all coming along together. But I have got better at asking: ‘Can that wait?’
Who’s your favourite fictional character, and why?
The fictional characters of Clarke and Dawe, created by the real John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, for their knack of skewering pomposity in under three minutes each week.
Tell us your favourite PAT tip, fact or insider secret…
Research shows that having a common language for discourse within a school is an important element in building collegial understanding and shared practice. PAT reports enable this: laterally across a given year level, longitudinally throughout a student’s time at school, and vertically between school leadership and individual teachers.
Find out more about PAT: www.acer.org/au/pat.
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