Dom Post on school assessment

July 8th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Education Minister should stick to her guns.

Parents are entitled to know how their children are doing at primary school and, if unimpressed, should be able to march them off to a school that is performing better, taking the state funding attached to him or her with them.

Hear hear.

Regrettably, this Government is not brave enough to go that far. But it should not resile from implementing its “national standards” policy in the teeth of opposition from principals and unionised teachers or buckle to their wish to have such information kept secret. …

What is it exactly that teachers and principals so fear? What is wrong with sharing with taxpayers those who pay to keep state operating just which do well and which do not? Is it that teachers’ methods might be scrutinised if their pupils are not keeping up with their countrywide cohort? Are they afraid that pay rises might not be forthcoming if it turns out that the youngsters in their class are falling behind?

A fear of accountability I say.

If so, principals and the NZEI would profit from looking across the Tasman to Labor-ruled New South Wales, where a similar row has erupted. There, the Greens and the Coalition equivalent to our National Party have joined forces in the NSW Senate to make it illegal to compile league tables backed by fines of up to $55,000 for organisations such as newspapers from statistics publicly available on a federal website. Labor’s deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard, has ridiculed the NSW ban.

While in NZ wants to make school assessment data more secret than the SIS.

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72 Responses to “Dom Post on school assessment”

  1. freedom101 (509 comments) says:

    Let parents choose! What’s the point of league tables when parents are locked into the local monopoly of their local school zone?

    It’s time for portable parental funding – aka vouchers. The debate over co-ed and single sex schooling should be decided by parents. Let each family decide what is best for their sons and daughters. There is no ‘right’ answer here, what is needed is flexibility.

    If the Nats could do just one courageous thing in their first term then opening up education to parental choice should be it. They will suffer howls of anguish from the provider capture groups, but so be it. Parents will love them, and there are more parents than teachers and union reps.

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  2. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Since when has NSW had a Senate?

    Obviously the editotrial writer was the victim of poor education, no doubt in one of Auckland’s snob schools.

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  3. GTP (42 comments) says:

    “march them off to a school that is performing better”

    Not currently possible with the zoning system, better performing schools have no out of zone enrolments.

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  4. Swiftman the infidel (329 comments) says:

    My wife and I send our son (6 1/2 years old) to Kristin School in Albany Auckland – a private school – to keep him away from low-class people like MyNameIsJerk.

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  5. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Not currently possible with the zoning system, better performing schools have no out of zone enrolments.

    Thin end of the wedge in order to eventually do away with zoning maybe.

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  6. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,070 comments) says:

    the Greens and the Coalition equivalent to our National Party have joined forces in the NSW Senate to make it illegal to compile league tables backed by fines of up to $55,000 for organisations such as newspapers from statistics publicly available on a federal website.

    Lucky there isn’t any kind of global communications network on which the information could be published anonymously overseas, making a mockery of the proposed law.

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  7. freedom101 (509 comments) says:

    Why is Anne Tolley wasting so much political capital on something that will provide so little benefit to parents? If you are locked into a local zoned monopoly, as most people are, then the league tables have little value.

    Much better to use up political capital on something that will generate (huge) benefits for parents – vouchers.

    Poor strategic thinking by the Nats I’m afraid.

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  8. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,914 comments) says:

    Good old Labour. The Provision Wing of the teachers unions. Knee capping dimwits, the lot of them.

    One of their brightest is a fellow called MyNameIsJack who is too stupid to realise that NSW has had a senate since 1856. They call it the Legislative Council.

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  9. davidp (3,587 comments) says:

    The Dom Post editor is clearly confused.

    Newspaper performance is regularly publicised in the form of circulation league tables. Advertisers use this to assess the number of people reading the newspaper and therefore how much they should pay for an ad. But advertisers are unable to understand the many factors that impact on newspaper circulation and are therefore likely to misinterpret the league tables in a way that is detrimental to newspaper editors and journalists. They would almost certainly misinterpret a falling circulation at one newspaper and a rising circulation at its competitor to mean that advertising should be directed mostly to the later, rather than being split fairly between the two newspapers in a 50:50 ratio. They might use the league tables to conclude that the editor of the newspaper with falling circulation isn’t very good, and this would unfairly effect his or her ability to earn salary increases.

    There is only one solution… It must be made illegal to publish newspaper circulation figures in the form of league tables. In fact, it should even be illegal to comment about the quality of newspapers or the performance of journalists. A simple “the Sunday Star Times is shite these days, I don’t bother buying it” is completely unfair to all involved and would almost certainly be misinterpreted by the sort of feeble minded people who read or advertise in newspapers. And people should be forced to purchase their local newspaper, since the consequences of allowing people to purchase newspapers published elsewhere in the country, or even in a foreign country where they are written using low cost foreign labour, are unimaginable.

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  10. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Adolf’s right, the name’s kinda irrelevant – it’s an upper house, all states but Qld have them.

    I’d be grateful should anyone who’s advocating vouchers for school kids to show me how they improve learning outcomes. I’ve seen only one such study in the US, Washington State schools from memory. It seems to me this is an article of faith rather than evidence-based policy and here’s me thinking the right were anti-dogma, meh!

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  11. tknorriss (327 comments) says:

    I saw the news article about the dramatic difference in performance by boys and girls in level 3 NCEA. Apparently 60% of girls pass level 3 compared to 45% boys.

    This is a very unsatisfactory situation. It is quite unfair on the boys who are likely to be unduly affected in later life. What we need is a truly socialist solution. What we need to do is to deduct the higher marks from the girls and give them to the boys. That way we will all be equal and all will be fair.

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  12. Ruby (105 comments) says:

    A fear of accountability I say.

    So true.

    Swiftman the infidel (22) Vote: 2 0 Says:

    July 8th, 2009 at 10:20 am
    My wife and I send our son (6 1/2 years old) to Kristin School in Albany Auckland – a private school – to keep him away from low-class people like MyNameIsJerk.

    I realise you’re just making a crass comment, but overprotective parenting is a formula that sets children up for failure and a lack of strength and independence later on in life. Check out the following quote from a Christian musician (you don’t have to be a Christian to take from it the point she is putting across):

    My parenting approach before these past couple of years was to pray for my kids to go to college, end up happily married with good jobs and a nice home. Now I focus more on wanting my kids to open their hearts and love God and love their neighbor. I’m excited to see what they do in their generation. I want them to be leaders, and I don’t want them to be afraid. I want them to believe in a God who is real and is bigger than all of this and has a plan for their lives. The way I parent them now is not about protecting them from everything, it’s about creating in them a sense of the story that they are a part of, and the idea of the good use of their lives.”

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  13. Swiftman the infidel (329 comments) says:

    Thank you Ruby, I take your point.

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  14. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    The failure of the education system throughout the Western world coincides with the rise and rise of feminism.

    The almost universal perspective that competition is a bad thing because it creates winners and losers, is a purely feminine perspective, because women are naturally co-operative, whereas men are naturally competitive.

    This anti-competition attitude was non-existent until the 70’s and ever since it’s grown until it’s now a force majuer. This coincides with the rise of women into policy-making positions.

    Some or even perhaps most, people, don’t seem to realise that the education system is the main battleground for those wishing to exert influence over hearts and minds. This is precisely why Lange appointed himself Minister of Education when he was PM – I mean, unheard of, the PM, as Minister of Ed? Why? This is why.

    What he did back then, gave what Muldoon used to call the touchy-feely brigade an incredible boost, from which our children have never recovered.

    If you don’t believe it, then look around. All throughout the Western world the education system has been dumbed-down. You would have thought that with our advances in psychology the precise opposite would have happened but it hasn’t, has it.

    Never forget that the term “politically correct” came out of Soviet Russia in the 1920’s. The reason they do it is to make people easier to control. If you produce self-centred, emotionally immature, intellectually incurious people, they’re easier to influence via the mass-media. Hence you get what we see today – people obsessed with light-weight celebrity pap, who seek immediate gratification and who display little sense of the kind of social and sexual morality that used to exist in our grandparent’s generation.

    You can choose to think these dynamics have arisen accidentally and coincidentally if you like, but the historical data which is freely available indicates there is nothing coincidental about it.

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  15. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Reid, what failure are you speaking of? NZ schools are doing well, can you provide some evidence to back up your rather bold claims?

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  16. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    Don’t you read the papers, Paul?

    But OK, just last night on the TV News there was an item on a conference currently on which was discussing why boys are failing and how our stats are the worst in the world in that area.

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  17. The Silent Majority (88 comments) says:

    It is unfair that only the children of the wealthy can afford to live in the best school zones or send their children to private schools.

    If the government would let parents “talk with their feet’ failing schools would soon be a thing of the past.

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  18. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Reid, yeah I do read the papers, I also read a little more broadly including education research and various international measures that show improvements in NZ’s absolute and relative school performance… This ‘crisis’ you speak of is a beat-up. The lingering problem for NZ schools is how to address the longish tail of poor performance; I’d welcome someone telling me how league tables and vouchers will solve this problem?

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  19. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    Paul this is not a “crisis,” it’s a way of life. It’s a “how do you eat an elephant: a slice at a time” kinda thing.

    And if it’s a mere beat-up, then how come most parents want league tables? Or do you think that is a beat-up as well and they actually don’t want them?

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  20. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    It is unfair that only the children of the wealthy can afford to live in the best school zones or send their children to private schools.

    Welcome to life, TSM.

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  21. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    Imagine if motor vehicle manufacturers convinced the government that most people didnt have the technical skills to understand details of car engineering so it became illegal to publish comparisons between different makes of car.

    The implicit assumption that parents (and children for that matter) are not capable of making rational judgements about education is quite offensive.

    Of course my kids go to a private school so I am biased.

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  22. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    “It is unfair that only the wealthy can afford to live in nice houses/drive better cars/drink champagne/send their children to private schools/wear better clothes/get private medical care/travel in the front of the plane (or at all).”

    There really ought to be a law….

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  23. Ryan Sproull (7,261 comments) says:

    It is unfair that children born to poorer families – through no choice or fault of their own – are disadvantaged while children born to wealthy families – through no choice or virtue of their own – are advantaged.

    Are we not a society that values fairness and people getting what they work for, rather than what they’re born into?

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  24. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    reid, you “know” a lot of stuff with little evidence. I suspect lots of parents do want league tables, I don’t know that most do? How do you know this?

    Parents in NZ get lots of information about their school performance, ERO reports are forensic compared with what’s available overseas. I’d be more convinced if someone could simply tell me how league tables and vouchers will solve the problem (and perhaps, precisely, what that problem is?.

    As I said up-thread, it sounds like an article of faith rather than evidence-based policy.

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  25. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    Where I live in the Hutt there is the choice between state colleges with either a 30% or 40% NCEA pass rate. Some choice. Until the parents of these kids value education, until they get forced to live on something other than a handout for life, then nothing will change. My local college already has a classroom full of Y10/11 pupils raising the next generation of failures.

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  26. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Imagine if motor vehicle manufacturers convinced the government that most people didnt have the technical skills to understand details of car engineering so it became illegal to publish comparisons between different makes of car.

    How does the public availability of ERO reports fit into this ridiculous comparison? The government mandates regular independent public reviews of all schools for crissakes! That’s like asking the AA to come around and check your car.

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  27. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    Paul – Sweden has used a voucher system for ages and we all know how much the left loves everything the Swedes do. Therefore it must be a good idea.

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  28. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Paul – Sweden has used a voucher system for ages and we all know how much the left loves everything the Swedes do. Therefore it must be a good idea.

    With respect, that’s rubbish Brian. I’ve had this discussion with Deborah Coddington, on Stephen Franks’ blog, and have seen the very brief and simplistic report which is claimed as evidence for vouchers. The Swedish system was like NZ’s of the ’50s with almost no private schools and very heavily regulated, frankly incomparable with NZ’s system making reliance on their experience irrelevant to us.

    If you’ve got more information, I’d appreciate seeing it because, as I said earlier, I’m aware of only one study that seems relevant.

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  29. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    Private schools in NZ account for only 4% of students. That includes Montessori and Steiner schools, dicoesean and religious schools and alternative schools. The current system is not working – maybe changing the education paradigm is what is required. Why should parents, who value education and want the best for their kids, have to because of where they live, condemn their kids to going to some failing school where education comes second to crowd control.

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  30. burt (8,309 comments) says:

    Dump NCEA – there is no reason why NZ needs to have it’s own assessment systems. Surely we have grown up enough as a country in the last few decades to use well proven and measurable systems rather than continue to pretend that we need to have our own special home grown system.

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  31. Tauhei Notts (1,746 comments) says:

    Several of you have criticised Paul’s comments.
    I will not criticise them as they are spot on.
    My mate with an engineering shop advertised for young workers who could go on to get a welding ticket or whatever. They did not need a knowledge of differential calculus, but they did need to know how many beans made ten.
    He quizzed the ten applicants;
    “If I had a metre long piece of reinforcing steel and I cut 70 cm off it how much would I have left?”
    That question was too hard for eight of the ten applicants.
    Two of the ten needed to look at their birth certificates to know how to spell their names correctly.

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  32. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    freedom101 – As others have suggested, it might be a logical first step in a strategy to step towards vouchers. Information will lead to a desire to be able to act upon it, making eventual implementation of vouchers easier.

    Ryan –

    It is unfair that children born to poorer families – through no choice or fault of their own – are disadvantaged while children born to wealthy families – through no choice or virtue of their own – are advantaged. Are we not a society that values fairness and people getting what they work for, rather than what they’re born into?

    From the child’s perspective, I can see your point. It’s not nice to be born into a disadvantage that you have no control over. As a parent, though, one of the reasons I work so hard is to be able to pass on advantages to my children. Even as a child at school I knew I had to work hard to improve my chances of producing enough wealth for my future family. People should get what they work for? Well, what I work for is to have advantaged children.

    When the product of my hard work is heavily taxed to help children of less hardworking parents (who are hard to distinguish from, and more numerous, than the merely unfortunate) then I start to get annoyed. It is the reality of life that children will start life with material advantages and disadvantages since elimination of that differential would remove one of the strongest incentives for adults to work hard and better themselves.

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  33. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Brian, 17 per cent of NZ schools are integrated or private. As I said, the Swedish experience is not relevant to NZ. NZ long ago reformed the school sector. Moreover the current system is working, see the data on PISA and TIMMS; what evidence do you have for your claim its not working and how precisely will league tables and vouchers improve things?

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  34. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    Two of the ten needed to look at their birth certificates to know how to spell their names correctly.

    Keep their names handy, we may need one next time a referendum question needs to be crafted.

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  35. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    Paul – If you know that your local schools sucks you may be able to get changes made to improve it. If you know nothing about it’s results, how can you quantify what is wrong with it.

    4% approx of schools kids are in independent schools – I read it in the paper a few weeks back. I wasn’t counting integrated schools.

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  36. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Assess the Parents..

    Teachers will tell you that they are not sausage machine machine merchants, that politicians think they can add an extra ingredient or two to the learning mix, out will pop improved product educated kids, lack understanding of basic educational principles. Our kids come from homes both wonderful and inadequate. Increasingly kids come un-nurtured, poorly behaved, without breakfast, looking for trouble unable to concentrate. Not all are wonderful and carefully nurtured kids, well behaved, eager to learn and full of life. Quality outcomes imply quality parents., quality parents provide quality students for quality teachers to teach in quality resourced classrooms and schools. This is not the case.
    Politicians should provide sufficient resources to enable teachers to meet obvious needs within schools,
    they are not. Schools have to rely on increasing school fees instead. The government also needs to providing the good parents that provide the good students before the quality learning can start in earnest, they are not. Testing to establish national standards of literacy for our children or anything else for that matter should start in the home before they go to school. To enable positive development and behavior for teachers are able to teach educational success. Anything else like testing for literacy standards at age five or six is just straight political window dressing, while the ambulance remains at the bottom of the cliff.

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  37. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Swiftman the Infidel . Good choice of school .My 2 children now aged 27 and 23 spent their school years at Kristin and it proved to be money well spent.

    Of course I was forced to pay for their education twice by the greedy system that penalises success and rewards failure but it was well worth it.

    I support a voucher system on the grounds that every child deserves the best possible education system and money spent on quality education is the best investment for the future.

    And to the neighsayers remember in your dotage you will be relying on the next generations for the goods and services and the taxes to pay for your super and medicare.

    So even taking a selfish view its the right way to go.

    On the matter of disclosure and transperancey with regards to schools performance.

    Pray tell why this sector should be priviledged and protected and not subjected to the same level of scrutiny as others?

    I have yet to hear any evidence to support the proposition.

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  38. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Brian, no; 4 per cent of schools, not school kids are at independent and it makes no sense to ignore the integrated because they’re critical to the diversity of the school sector (which is why the Swedish reforms are of little to no relevance to NZ). Quite frankly, many other countries/jurisdictions haven’t yet caught up with the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms. You need to look at the whole picture to realise how flexible, de-regulated and diverse the NZ school system is… and given that PISA and TIMMS suggests there’s lots to commend about NZ schools, I’m still unsure what the problem is for which league tables and vouchers are the solution!

    Moreover, Brian, you know the performance of your local school from the ERO report – that’s a hell of a lot more information than is available in many other places, NSW for instance.

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  39. Angus (536 comments) says:

    “what evidence do you have for your claim its not working”

    Here’s some possible anecdotal evidence, based on young male contributors to the Rock FM Cougar comments thread.
    http://www.therock.net.nz/The-hunt-for-the-Ultimate-Kiwi-Cougar/tabid/387/articleID/3465/cat/158/Default.aspx

    alex
    not bad i wouldnt say no 4 giving her 1
    02-Jul-2009

    bruce
    ive had three cougars and they are better looking than de but the young guys find something with her one was my first
    29-Jun-2009

    mark
    r we just gunna shag all nite or wat i no a romatic place hahaha
    28-Jun-2009

    Hayden
    now ive had my fair share of cougar’s and at the age of 23 ive has she urge for cougars for 5 years now and im still getting them on the odd ocasion. and holy hell debs is damn fine. id kill for my chance with her
    28-Jun-2009

    Joshua
    mate im 17 and im keen for some of that
    27-Jun-2009

    Lance
    Yea how bout that, Miss trident Tavern!!!!!!! 2006
    26-Jun-2009

    brad
    straight up im down for the couger im a 18 y.o vergin and need the time !!

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  40. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    Yes Angus.

    You could also look at the BNP Babes thread for more evidence.

    See, Paul, the evidence is all around us all the time – that’s why I didn’t respond to your request for evidence. If you insist on studies to point out the obvious, you’re simply being disingenuous.

    Currently the karma reading for my original post is reading 11-2 in favour of what I said. Apparently, other people have noticed the same things I have. Can’t work out why 2 people haven’t, but my theory is that those people are part of the 50% that haven’t made it into the three-digit IQ pool. Quite what they’re doing on a political blog I’m not sure. Perhaps they got lost in hyperspace.

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  41. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    See, Paul, the evidence is all around us all the time – that’s why I didn’t respond to your request for evidence. If you insist on studies to point out the obvious, you’re simply being disingenuous.

    Reid, what you consider evidence, I think of as little more than an echo. I understand that there’s a a community concern, I think it needs addressing. I’m far from convinced however, that there’s any meaningful evidence to suggest league tables and/or vouchers will solve whatever the “problem” is. I don’t see a voxpop on kiwiblog as conclusive of anything at all.

    Currently the karma reading for my original post is reading 11-2 in favour of what I said. Apparently, other people have noticed the same things I have.

    Well that is important to the matter isn’t it, popularity! Let’s hope that’s not the only metric the Minister considers relevant to her job.

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  42. burt (8,309 comments) says:

    Our assessment systems are designed and managed to achieve an equal outcome across gender. Clearly that objective has failed but the real question is; should we tweak the assessment system to achieve “balance” of outcomes by gender or should we tweak the assessment systems to achive more measurable ourtcomes.

    Is it important that we have an equal spread of “participated” by gender or is “achievement” important irrespective of gender?

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  43. burt (8,309 comments) says:

    Furthermore…. one of the main drivers for NCEA (according to profs at the Dunedin assessment studies unit) was to create more gender balance in education as historically boys have performed better in education than girls. (reid addresses this early in the thread). Clearly now that we have better outcomes for girls than boys we should be heading away from NCEA becasue is has failed to create balance.

    So, will we dump NCEA and try something new like we did when the “existing” system was not deemed to be balanced?

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  44. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    I’m far from convinced however, that there’s any meaningful evidence to suggest league tables and/or vouchers will solve whatever the “problem” is.

    Of course it won’t Paul and if you read my 10:46 again you’ll see I’m not suggesting anything of the sort. League tables are merely a small tiny minuscule step in the right direction. Allowing boys to be boys and treating them accordingly instead of pretending they should be treated like young ladies, will be another small step and I’m hoping but not expecting this conference I referred to will produce that result.

    Finally, by referring to my karma rating I wasn’t talking about popularity I was talking about accuracy in that the phrase I used said “other people have also noticed…” In other words, other people have eyes Paul.

    Both of those points I just referred to, are perfectly obvious to a neutral reader but apparently, you just can’t stop being disingenuous, can you? If you keep it up, I might have to change my opinion of you and downgrade your rating from “lefty” to “a bit dim.”

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  45. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Finally, by referring to my karma rating I wasn’t talking about popularity I was talking about accuracy in that the phrase I used said “other people have also noticed…” In other words, other people have eyes Paul.

    I understand that Reid, but I don’t think it important. I think if you’re going to make changes to the NZ schooling system, you need to know what the problem is, how the solution fits and be clear about what benefit/outcome you’re trying to achieve. Populists policies might give you a warm feeling and improve your electability but I’m concerned for the long-term performance of the school system.

    Parents are critical group. They need to be involved in School Boards, review ERO reports, attend parent evenings, get involved in the Trustees group. Their perspectives of the performance of their kids’ school is entirely relevant to the development of policy. So too is the views of educators, academics and policy experts. I’m not expert on schools, I do know however that NZ schools are performing relatively and comparatively well by two key international measures and I don’t know what league tables are intended to do given all the other information available to NZ parents (and often not available to parents oveseas).

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  46. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Adolf Fiinkensein (942) Vote: 5 0 Says:

    July 8th, 2009 at 10:29 am
    Good old Labour. The Provision Wing of the teachers unions. Knee capping dimwits, the lot of them.

    One of their brightest is a fellow called MyNameIsJack who is too stupid to realise that NSW has had a senate since 1856. They call it the Legislative Council.

    Almost right, Adolf.it is a Legislative Council, NOT a Senate.

    And the dickhead editorial writer, who presumes to lecture us on education, is too fucking thick to know the difference.

    [DPF: Senate is often used as a generic term for an upper house. Find a real issue]

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  47. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    Paul, the fundamental problem in education is that it’s infested from the top down, by politically-correct people. These people develop and deploy policies that don’t strive for educational excellence but rather, undermine it. However they dress it up in that guise and some, perhaps even most of them, even believe that their policies are sound. Well, the results speak for themselves, don’t they.

    The ERO then goes out and assesses schools against standards and policies developed by these very same people.

    The only way to fix the entire system is to recognise it’s fundamentally flawed. To do a complete 180 in terms of perspective.

    The frustrating part about this, is that the fix is utterly simple. All you have to do is to name the top 50 schools in the country. Starting with Auckland Grammar. Then look at what those schools do and replicate those practices without exception across the entire country.

    But will this happen? Of course not. The PC-brigade would be horrified. University academics would be up in arms. The sound of wringing hands would be deafening. Oh, the humanity.

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  48. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    Paul, the fundamental problem in education is that it’s infested from the top down, by politically-correct people. These people develop and deploy policies that don’t strive for educational excellence but rather, undermine it.

    Grammar a good school, no doubting it, but the rest of your post is a statement of opinion unsupported by any facts. Everyone’s got a perspective on these matters Reid, everyone’s got a little anecdote, but no one perspective is sufficient for the development of policy. You’ll recall the saying about opinions and arseholes…

    The fact remains that two key international measures suggest NZ schools are doing reasonably well. I don’t know how you reconcile this with your statement that it’s “fundamentally flawed”? In addition, I’d argue that the reforms of the last twenty years mean parents in NZ have access to more and better information about their school’s performance than is the case in many other jurisdictions (certainly more than the ones I’ve direct experience with).

    I don’t think there’s much point in continuing a discussion absent an awareness of the published data.

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  49. The Silent Majority (88 comments) says:

    I support parents getting to choose how their educational tax dollar is spent because;

    Schools should be answerable to their customers (the parents) not the government.

    Schools that use educational approaches that work should be expanded and those schools that don’t should be fixed or closed.

    Every single child should have the opportunity of a decent education , irrespective of what their parents earn

    Parents should not be forced to be bystanders of their kid’s education and have very little control or choice.

    Teachers and parents should replace Wellington bureaucrats at the centre of every child’s education.

    How better to make this happen than by allowing parents to take their tax dollars and move their child to the school that’s best for them.

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  50. burt (8,309 comments) says:

    The Silent Majority

    I agree. The Labour party approach is to say that all schools are the same and one is no better or worse than the other. That makes administration easy but is complete bollox.

    Do you think National/ACT will have the balls to shake the tree enough so that the rotten fruit of socialism falls out?

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  51. burt (8,309 comments) says:

    MyNameIsJack

    …is too fucking thick to know the difference.

    Bet he would get an “achieved” in NCEA all the same – and “achieved” is all we need right?

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  52. The Silent Majority (88 comments) says:

    Paul Williams said
    “I think if you’re going to make changes to the NZ schooling system, you need to know what the problem is, how the solution fits and be clear about what benefit/outcome you’re trying to achieve.’

    Spot on, I couldn’t agree more. And that is exactly what proponents of the change are not good at articulating. And that is actually the first thing that needs to change.

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  53. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    The fact remains that two key international measures suggest NZ schools are doing reasonably well. I don’t know how you reconcile this with your statement that it’s “fundamentally flawed”? In addition, I’d argue that the reforms of the last twenty years mean parents in NZ have access to more and better information about their school’s performance than is the case in many other jurisdictions (certainly more than the ones I’ve direct experience with).

    Which bit of this from my 10:46, did you not understand, Paul?

    “The failure of the education system throughout the Western world…”

    As far as facts and data go, how’s about Kevin Donnelly’s report and I assume you’ve read his book too?

    You can also look at this presentation from him and review the best practices he outlines. Since you’re interested in the research I’m sure you’ll follow up all his citations, won’t you.

    Now Paul, if you can’t see that our current system is broken then you’re blind. You either don’t want to see it for vested interest reasons, or you’re thick. I don’t think you’re thick.

    Characteristics of stronger performing systems
    1.based on a syllabus approach to curriculum, not outcomes based education
    2.adopt a strong discipline-based approach
    3.provide clear, rigorous, teacher friendly intended curriculum documents
    4.have greater time on task in the classroom and a greater emphasis on more formal, whole-class teaching
    5.have regular testing, generally at each year level, with consequences for failure
    6.differentiated curriculum -recognition that students have different abilities, interests and destinations

    How stronger systems define curriculum
    1.teachers given a clear and succinct road-map
    2.relate to specific year levels
    3.based on established disciplines
    4.curriculum descriptors specific, concise, easily understood and measurable
    5.greater use of direct instruction and explicit teaching
    6.greater focus on teacher directed, whole class teaching
    7.have centralised, high-risk examinations in the senior school

    Intended curricula documents -best practice
    1.relate to specific year levels
    2.acknowledge the central importance of the academic disciplines
    3.incorporate regular, high stakes testing with consequences for failure
    4.curriculum descriptors are succinct, specific and teacher friendly
    5.deal with essential learning and promote deep understanding
    6.are benchmarked against world’s best equivalent documents

    Years 11 and 12 -best practice Stronger performing education systems, as measured by TIMSS, have curriculum-based external exit exam systems (John H. Bishop):
    1.curriculum based as opposed to aptitude tests (eg SAT and ACE Key Capabilities Assessment)
    2.examinations organised by discipline that assess major aspects of the subject
    3.consequences for failure and individual achievement properly rewarded
    4.assessment reliable, valid, manageable, teacher friendly and instils public confidence

    D’ya think NCEA has “instilled public confidence?”

    How many of these things below, do we currently do, Paul?

    Years 11 and 12 -not so good practice
    The VCE (as originally designed) and the proposed Western Australian and South Australian certificates
    1.a common certificate -one size fits all
    2.reduced emphasis on end of year examinations with increased use of school-based assessment
    3.grades reduced from a 100 point scale to a 5 or 8 point scale
    4.consensus instead of statistical moderation
    5.norm-referenced assessment replaced by criteria or standards -based assessment
    6.academic subjects undermined -scaling between subjects abolished and all subjects counted for tertiary selection

    Criticisms re: Victoria, but note below:
    1.lowest common denominator approach -curriculum dumbed down
    2.integrity of subjects fragmented
    3.problems with continuous assessment -a marathon
    4.increased student/teacher workload and stress
    5.problems with cheating and authenticating work
    6.difficult to ensure comparability of results across schools
    7.teaching/learning overwhelmed by assessment/record keeping8.relationship between students and teachers undermined
    9.more affluent and privileged students advantaged
    10.crisis in public confidence
    Research by Elley, Hall and Marsh suggests similar problems with the NCEA -Rescuing NCEA: Some Possible Ways Forward

    Australian senior school certificates -Criticisms
    •Commonwealth survey of tertiary academics concluded that almost half of those interviewed agreed that standards of first year students had fallen over time
    •2003 survey of economics departments -13 departments concluded that standards in first-year courses had fallen, compared with 3 who considered standards had risen
    •2006 report on pre-tertiary mathematics subjects stated that many courses failed to adequately prepare students for tertiary studies
    •research at the ADFA involving some 600 undergraduates discovered serious concerns related to written expression
    •public debates about ‘EnglishLite’and the impact of ‘theory’
    •failure of senior school courses to promote vocational education and training
    •impact of political correctness on what is taught -WA chemistry and physics

    Hope that helps you lift the blinkers Paul, but somehow, I doubt it.

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  54. Ryan Sproull (7,261 comments) says:

    From the child’s perspective, I can see your point. It’s not nice to be born into a disadvantage that you have no control over. As a parent, though, one of the reasons I work so hard is to be able to pass on advantages to my children. Even as a child at school I knew I had to work hard to improve my chances of producing enough wealth for my future family. People should get what they work for? Well, what I work for is to have advantaged children.

    Logically, I don’t see much difference between you working hard to advantage your child and someone else working hard to change legislation so that children with a particular skin colour are advantaged. It seems like a flippant comparison, but what galls us about advantage or disadvantage based on skin colour is that it’s not fair for someone to be advantaged or disadvantaged for reasons outside of their own control. That holds true in your desire to advantage your own children too. In both cases, the desire to advantage one child is a desire to disadvantage the others.

    You agree that people should get what they work for and then say you work for advantaged children (and thus disadvantaged other children). I would suggest that the only restriction on “you should get what you work for” in this case is when you are working for people not getting what they work for. You could equally say that you work hard for racial advantage/disadvantage, and should therefore get it.

    Your next point is more consequentialist, however…

    When the product of my hard work is heavily taxed to help children of less hardworking parents (who are hard to distinguish from, and more numerous, than the merely unfortunate) then I start to get annoyed. It is the reality of life that children will start life with material advantages and disadvantages since elimination of that differential would remove one of the strongest incentives for adults to work hard and better themselves.

    Potentially. A happy medium could be found by establishing a kind of bare minimum requirements for having as level a playing field as possible, while still making so that a hard-working child-loving parent can give their child material expressions of their love, but not things that advantage one and therefore disadvantage another.

    You’re also making the rather unfounded assumption that all children born to disadvantageous families are born to unloving or lazy parents. Our economy requires that a large number of people occupy the lower strata of income, regardless of virtue. Even if every parent in the country was as hard-working as you and loved their children as much as you do, a politico-economic environment that doesn’t aim for a level playing field will leave those children disadvantaged (relative to others).

    There is a large difference from being able to disadvantage other children by sending your child to an expensive private school and being able to buy your children a nice holiday by working hard and saving while other less hard-working parents do not.

    It seems to me that there is still incentive.

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  55. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    “Paul Williams said
    “I think if you’re going to make changes to the NZ schooling system, you need to know what the problem is, how the solution fits and be clear about what benefit/outcome you’re trying to achieve.’

    Spot on, I couldn’t agree more. And that is exactly what proponents of the change are not good at articulating. And that is actually the first thing that needs to change.

    Well, Silent Majority, I fucking articulated it in my 1:33 when I said:

    The frustrating part about this, is that the fix is utterly simple. All you have to do is to name the top 50 schools in the country. Starting with Auckland Grammar. Then look at what those schools do and replicate those practices without exception across the entire country.

    What’s the matter? Too many big words?

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  56. The Silent Majority (88 comments) says:

    Reid,
    I don’t see the link between Pauls comment and yours.
    What I am agreeing with him on is this
    10

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  57. The Silent Majority (88 comments) says:

    Reid,
    I didn’t say we don’t know what the problem is and the benefits of the solution, I said we don’t communicate it well to the public at large. If we did, parents would be falling over each other to join the “Parents for School Choice Movement” which doesn’t even exist at the moment.

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  58. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    Ryan – Skin colour? My son’s primary school was full of kids with very dark skin colour. They are called Indians. They almost without exception, were high achievers. What has skin colour got to do with education again? It is all about parental attitude. All the money in the world wont change things for most of the the kids whose parents don’t value education as a way of bettering themselves.

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  59. Ryan Sproull (7,261 comments) says:

    Ryan – Skin colour? My son’s primary school was full of kids with very dark skin colour. They are called Indians. They almost without exception, were high achievers. What has skin colour got to do with education again?

    Sorry, I should have explained more clearly. What I was doing was making a point about what Camryn said by showing how it was relevantly analogous to something he presumably finds obviously unfair. If you find it unfair that a child who through no choice of his own has a particular skin colour is therefore disadvantaged, you should also find it unfair that a child who through no choice of his own is born to a poor family rather than a wealthy one is therefore disadvantaged.

    Because our idea of what is fair and unfair is directly related to what is under someone’s control.

    It is all about parental attitude. All the money in the world wont change things for most of the the kids whose parents don’t value education as a way of bettering themselves.

    Cool, so it doesn’t matter which school you send your kids to. What’s the problem?

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  60. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    I don’t understand why teachers support this. Are they also so brainwashed to believe the lies of the NZEI. I’m sure some teachers are total dropkicks but their are also many that are brilliant teachers and day in and day out try their hardest to make a difference. If I was a state teacher I would be spewing my ring out if some arsehole said my results and those of my school can not be compare with other throughout the country. They do themselves a disservice.

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  61. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    Right, sorry Silent Majority, and thanks for the clarification.

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  62. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    “Cool, so it doesn’t matter which school you send your kids to. What’s the problem?”

    C’mon Ryan, now you’re being disingenuous.

    Of course the parental attitude toward education matters, which BTW, is free and available to both rich and poor. And the school matters. And the child’s genes. And the child’s upbringing – instilling love, self-discipline, respect etc. And the child’s teachers. And no doubt many more things. All of the things that REALLY matter however can be gained if there’s a will – it’s really a question of the amount of effort one has to put into it. It’s easier if a parent has enough money to live in the right areas. That doesn’t make it impossible for someone who’s parents don’t live there, which, BTW, is the majority.

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  63. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    Ryan said

    Cool, so it doesn’t matter which school you send your kids to. What’s the problem?

    Unfortunately yes it does. Because kids who want to learn but who are at schools where the kids are predominantly from families who don’t value education get dragged down with them. Of course there will be cream who rise to the top no matter where they are, but those kids who need that bit extra or who are distracted by the unruly behaviour of other kids, wont get that help when their teacher is spending their time doing riot control, dealing with tired kids who have been up late watching tv and dodging assaults. In private schools you pay for teachers who spend almost 100% of their classroom time teaching.

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  64. Ryan Sproull (7,261 comments) says:

    Unfortunately yes it does. Because kids who want to learn but who are at schools where the kids are predominantly from families who don’t value education get dragged down with them. Of course there will be cream who rise to the top no matter where they are, but those kids who need that bit extra or who are distracted by the unruly behaviour of other kids, wont get that help when their teacher is spending their time doing riot control, dealing with tired kids who have been up late watching tv and dodging assaults. In private schools you pay for teachers who spend almost 100% of their classroom time teaching.

    This doesn’t address the fairness problem, though. Our idea of what is fair is firmly based in whether or not someone’s outcomes are results of their own choices. What you have here is an argument for better public schools, not for the no-virtue-of-their-own children of one section of society to be able to disadvantage the no-fault-of-their-own children of others.

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  65. Ryan Sproull (7,261 comments) says:

    It’s easier if a parent has enough money to live in the right areas. That doesn’t make it impossible for someone who’s parents don’t live there, which, BTW, is the majority.

    Sure, and it’s not impossible for a rugby team to win if they’re forced to wear gumboots against a team wearing proper gear, but that doesn’t mean we call it a fair game.

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  66. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    Ryan –

    You’re also making the rather unfounded assumption that all children born to disadvantageous families are born to unloving or lazy parents.

    Actually, I clearly said that the relatively lazy are more numerous than the merely unfortunate, but enjoy the advantage of being difficult to distinguish from them.

    A happy medium could be found by establishing a kind of bare minimum requirements for having as level a playing field as possible, while still making so that a hard-working child-loving parent can give their child material expressions of their love…

    I agree.

    …but not things that advantage one and therefore disadvantage another.

    Uh-oh, I think we’re going to have a very different view on that…

    There is a large difference from being able to disadvantage other children by sending your child to an expensive private school…

    Yep, looks like a very large point of disagreement. I can understand your point from a technical perspective, in that any difference in education provided results in differences in relative advantage. However, I think you’ll find very few who actually consider a parent who spent their own money on a private school education to be “disadvantaging other children” when they have actually paid taxes into the public system that gives those other children a greater opportunity than their parents would be able or willing to, and simultaneously relieved the public system of the burden of educating their child.

    You mentioned the concept of a middle ground, and I happily agree there must be one. Apart from the moral point you raise (children being punished for the sins of their parents is not good) there’s also a benefit to wider society in that it is more pleasant to live among the decently educated and it aids the functioning of the economy since almost all jobs require decent education. So, the taxpayer arguably benefits from the education that the taxpayer provides to some extent. The objective, and actual point of debate there, is how to most effectively spend that public education money. The better is is spent, the greater benefit of the direct recipient, the taxpayer, and all of us.

    As you can easily guess, I prefer open information and a voucher system that promotes competition. I recognise that certain poor schools will shrivel, and that some students may become trapped there for reasons of practicality or parental apathy so I also support clear and effective mechanisms for schools to be turned around such as adoption by successful schools or ‘flying squad’ involvement from central government etc. I really do think this would raise standards for all and would delivery uniformity of quality but with differentiated offerings to suit childrens’ needs and desires (e.g. around teaching style, subject matter). This is what happens in competitive markets! Of course, I support private delivery options too… but it’s not clear how they would deliver sufficient additional value if the public system was performing optimally.

    I’m not sure what you prefer as a system, but I know that you want extreme uniformity of outcome. The suppression of school performance results seems to be an aspect of whatever system you would prefer. It seems clear to me that this would provide the illusion of uniformity but actual uniformity. It also seems clear that seeking uniformity as the primary end goal, rather than quality, would lead inexorably to underperformance. We could perhaps end up equal to each other (or at least thinking we were) and yet outclassed by people from other countries.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled. In short, we can agree there must be a middle ground but disagree in that you tend towards bureaucratically-derived uniformity via a public-only system and I tend towards a public education system built around competitive principles with parents allowed to opt-out to private if they wish. Yes?

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  67. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    Oh… can’t stop myself making one more point. Deliberately controversial, this one. Just a thought provoker. OK…

    Ryan doesn’t wish for children to be disadvantaged or advantaged by their birth circumstance. Since all children are born with zero control over anything that happens before they gain self awareness or self control, it makes sense (from this perspective) that all should start equally from that point in the interests of fairness.

    Ryan has made this point with regard to the material playing field since it is the one that can be most easily influenced by society via government (via taxes, laws, etc).

    There is another playing field which is currently beyond our ability to make level – genetics. No-one is yet saying anything about forced genetic equality, but the same logic that says children should not suffer/benefit from parental poverty/wealth because they can’t control it would say that children should also not suffer from parental genetic advantages/disadvantages, would it not? That is, if we could do it.

    There is yet another playing field. Another thing that parents pass on to their children besides wealth and genetics are memes. Children either benefit or suffer from the ideas and values that their parents pass on to them. But, children are not responsible for whether those ideas and values are a help or a hindrance to a happy life! Ryan’s logic would suggest that it would fairest to ensure all children were exposed only to the same ideas as each other. How might a society go about doing that? Does it sound like a good idea?

    I understand that Ryan is *not* advocating forced genetic equality (if it were possible) nor forced equality of all values and ideas (if it were possible either). However, these extreme examples point to the absurdity of seeking to enforce equality of opportunity to an extreme level.

    I suggest that all we can and should do is to ensure that the unlucky (by birth or afterwards) get a *good* opportunity – not an exactly equal one. If that good opportunity is sufficient to get the child started or the unfortunate restarted to the point that can then shape their own destiny on life’s path (whether fate has made it steep or smooth) then the fact that someone else has more should be immaterial except to the jealous of heart or those unwilling to accept that life is a sometimes just a lottery that is beyond human capacity to alter.

    Further, a good opportunity is good enough because seeking equality rather than simply *quality* is a both fool’s errand and generally makes even the unfortunate worse off than under a system that seeks quality as the primary goal.

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  68. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    I’d be grateful should anyone who’s advocating vouchers for school kids to show me how they improve learning outcomes. I’ve seen only one such study in the US, Washington State schools from memory. It seems to me this is an article of faith rather than evidence-based policy and here’s me thinking the right were anti-dogma, meh!

    So, I take it no one’s got evidence that shows league tables and/or vouchers will improve learning outcomes (aside from the US example I mentioned)? Just a vague memory of a unrelated but conveniently named Swedish study? Has Ms Coddington got a view (should she be reading) as I know she’s researched this topic.

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  69. Ryan Sproull (7,261 comments) says:

    Camryn,

    I’m arguing for no particular system, just consistency in people’s approaches.

    Our idea of fairness is directly grounded in the idea that people should not be advantaged or disadvantaged for reasons outside of their own control – where possible. I was addressing the support of a system where moneyed parents equals better education, in KiwiGreg’s (satirical) comment:

    It is unfair that only the wealthy can afford to live in nice houses/drive better cars/drink champagne/send their children to private schools/wear better clothes/get private medical care/travel in the front of the plane (or at all).

    It is inconsistent for someone to be opposed to racial advantage/disadvantage on the grounds that people don’t choose their race while cheerily supporting parent-wealth advantage/disadvantage – which is no more the choice of a child than race is.

    I was then told that the primary incentive for a parent to work is to advantage their children – which, as you agree, relatively speaking means disadvantaging other children. All advantage and disadvantage is relative – it takes nothing away from the problem to point out its relative nature.

    If our society values fairness enough that desires to make things unfair are illegitimate (I gave racial disadvantage as an extreme and hopefully obvious example), then the desire to advantage one’s child over others is illegitimate, and a system that makes it possible for money to equal advantage for children is flying in the face of our society’s value for fairness.

    I wasn’t advocating total uniformity – I don’t think it’s desirable or possible. Where there is obvious unfair advantage and disadvantage (which is to say, not due to people’s fault or virtue), I would prefer things made fairer. But my views are besides the point, which is what I said above:

    It is inconsistent for someone to be opposed to racial advantage/disadvantage on the grounds that people don’t choose their race while cheerily supporting parent-wealth advantage/disadvantage – which is no more the choice of a child than race is.

    If you want to support a system (whatever it is) where children are advantaged or disadvantaged because of their parents – in a way that they wouldn’t be in a different system – then call it what it is: unfair. Such a person is advocating unfairness, possibly because they want to be able to unfairly tip things in their own loved ones’ favour – but it is still advocating unfairness.

    Keep in mind that I was originally responding to someone who likened wealthy people disadvantaging other children to buying champagne or sitting in the seats at the front of the plane.

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  70. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    So, I take it no one’s got evidence that shows league tables and/or vouchers will improve learning outcomes (aside from the US example I mentioned)? Just a vague memory of a unrelated but conveniently named Swedish study? Has Ms Coddington got a view (should she be reading) as I know she’s researched this topic.

    I’m sure I could find some in a few mins on google Paul, but I’m still waiting for your response to my provision of data to your original request:

    The fact remains that two key international measures suggest NZ schools are doing reasonably well. I don’t know how you reconcile this with your statement that it’s “fundamentally flawed”? In addition, I’d argue that the reforms of the last twenty years mean parents in NZ have access to more and better information about their school’s performance than is the case in many other jurisdictions (certainly more than the ones I’ve direct experience with).

    I don’t think there’s much point in continuing a discussion absent an awareness of the published data.

    Not too surprised you haven’t yet got back re: my response to that, you must be feeling quite devasted.

    BTW, won’t be checking this again for a few days, to give you some time.

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