An evaluation of the effectiveness of the Primary Extension and Academic Challenge (PEAC) Online Programme for gifted and talented students in Western Australian primary schools
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One of the key areas of the Western Australia’s Department of Education and Training’s Plan for Government Schools is ‘to provide access to quality, relevant, balanced, timely and inclusive programs that are challenging and enjoyable for all students.’ Online access for students through the Primary Extension and Challenge (PEAC) programme is a strategy that is currently being used to provide inclusivity for many gifted and talented students across Western Australia who are unable to travel to PEAC centres. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the online delivery programme for gifted and talented students in primary government schools in Western Australia.Data and information was collected the key stakeholders involved in the PEAC programme and was based around four research questions which looked at: the skills and professional development of the teachers, the role and needs of the support persons, the course design and content and the perceptions and needs of the online students.Some of the results found that teachers are spending more than their allotted time and much of their work is done at home. The professional development of teachers is not centrally managed and is done ad hoc without set guidelines of best practice and principles. Support for the online students mainly occurs in the student’s home, although both teachers and parents believe that the support should take place in the school. There is a disparity in the perceived value placed on the programme by the teachers and parents; parents believe that schools do not value the programme whereas teachers believe they place a high value on the programme. The PEAC Online courses themselves are modified classroom courses which, although the students find the courses of value, parents perceived the courses as too difficult and needing more structure to help their online student. This is backed up by the high dropout or non completion rate of the courses. Recommendations are made to improve the effectiveness of the programme reflecting in higher learning outcomes of the participating gifted and talented students.
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