A deal on league tables

October 14th, 2009 at 9:26 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

After months of disputes, Education Minister has struck a deal with primary school unions that will see them work together on its controversial national standards policy.

Under the agreement, the Government has confirmed it will make it as difficult as possible for the media to produce that rank schools.

It’s good that the unions will not try and boycott the national standards (as they are important), but I’d like some more details on how exactly the Government plans to make it difficult for the media to produce league tables. I sure hope they are not talking a law change.

It follows a threat from hundreds of primary school principals to boycott the policy unless changes were made to limit public access to performance data.

The peace deal with , the Principals Federation and the School Trustees Association follows months of disagreements between the groups over the introduction of the policy, which will see pupils from years 1 to 8 assessed in numeracy and literacy against national academic standards from next year.

Mrs Tolley told The Dominion Post the deal was a “a momentous occasion”.

“I can’t stress enough that it took my breath away that we have all for the first time sat round the table and said, ‘Yes, we are going to make this work together.’ That is fantastic.”

She said she told the groups she was prepared to work with them to stop the use of league tables. “We want to make it as difficult for you [media] as possible. It will be too hard and too much work and not worth it in the end. There are a few ideas we will discuss as to how we can do that.”

I’m fascinated as to what these ideas might be, because I can’t see what will stop media requesting achievement info for a school under the , and then using that to compile a league table – should they so wish. Personally league tables have limited value and are overly simplistic, but I don’t believe you stop the media from publishing them, if they decide to.

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31 Responses to “A deal on league tables”

  1. KiwiGreg (3,234 comments) says:

    “After months of disputes, Education Minister Anne Tolley has struck a deal with primary school unions that will see them work together on its controversial national standards policy.”

    So employees will now follow their employer’s instructions. Oh that IS good news.

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  2. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    This smells more than a bit squiffy to me. What’s the point in comparitive performance data if (a) one can’t compare and/or (b) the comparisons are dummed down for any reluctant distribution to the public?

    If they have reached any agreement it will because Tolley folded in my view.

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  3. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    NZEI president Frances Nelson said the Education Ministry and Mrs Tolley had shown a commitment to ensuring the standards were not used to undermine schools. She was happy for performance data to be given to parents.

    Couldn’t the parents give info to the media? What if a parent was IN the media?

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  4. KiwiGreg (3,234 comments) says:

    “She said she told the groups she was prepared to work with them to stop the use of league tables. “We want to make it as difficult for you [media] as possible. It will be too hard and too much work and not worth it in the end. ”

    Can you imagine any other area of government where a minister would get away with saying this? This is all about the teachers and nothing to do with parents and students. I cant get too het up as my kids go to a private school but this sucks if you dont have the money to make that a choice.

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  5. big bruv (13,686 comments) says:

    Another back down from the socialist National government.

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  6. hs (8 comments) says:

    Unless they plan on making the data anonymous─which would just negate the whole idea─I can’t see how they expect to believe obfuscating data will work…

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  7. Camryn (538 comments) says:

    I maybe too hopeful, but I’m assuming she’ll not really do much to stop league tables once the new system is up and running.

    Perhaps a few years of accidental leaks, bloggers doing whatever it takes to compile, etc and the world won’t end and she can stop the facade of trying to prevent league tables.

    Or perhaps she plans to channel public displeasure towards information that exists being unavailable towards the teachers. At the moment we’re only displeased that they’re trying to suppress information that could be available. It’ll be tougher for them once it exists so that’s her first hurdle.

    Or perhaps it’s a bold faced lie just to get them to sign up and there’ll be no attempt whatsoever.

    All seem more likely to me than a National minister going along with this rubbish. But, like I said, I may be too hopeful.

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  8. BlackMoss (61 comments) says:

    Do parents really need league tables? — just send your children to a higher decile school, that’s what the stats show gives you the best chance. It helps if you’re educated yourself and financially secure also.
    I mean league tables are, by definition, simplistic — its a pass rate for a given group of people in a given year. It doesn’t measure the ability of people to think outside the square and it encourages teachers to teach in a manner that focuses ‘entirely’ on the external result, not to mention the possibility of fraud (as has happened with the NCEA). If you want to find out how good a school is go down talk to some of the teachers and pupils. And do we have to start obsessing over academic achievement at primary school age, for goodness sake! Don’t children get to play anymore…

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  9. davidp (3,576 comments) says:

    Ideas for making it impossible for the media to report about school performance:

    1. Give the performance data to global warming scientists. They have successfully refused for years to release any of their data in case independent people were able to review how they arrived at the apocalyptic predictions that required billions of dollars of further global warming research funding.

    2. Merge the Ministry of Education with GCSB, and classify the performance data the same as signals intelligence regarding al Qaeda.

    3. Repeal the OIA. Not only will teachers be spared embarrassment, but so will other public servants.

    But don’t under any circumstances:

    1. Store the performance data on Don Brash’s official computer.

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  10. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    It doesn’t measure the ability of people to think outside the square and it encourages teachers to teach in a manner that focuses ‘entirely’ on the external result…If you want to find out how good a school is go down talk to some of the teachers and pupils. And do we have to start obsessing over academic achievement at primary school age, for goodness sake! Don’t children get to play anymore…

    In the case of basic literacy and numeracy standards (what I perceive to be the *foundations* of being able to ‘think outside the box’ etc) is all that really a bad thing?

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  11. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    davidp – Hilarious!

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  12. bruceh (102 comments) says:

    The determination to protect providers and suppliers at the expense of the interests of the consuming and taxpaying public is grotesque. Truly Key’s government has little philosophical framework to guide its work and responses to issues, it simply finds a some apparent middle ground while still failing to solve problems at their cause. Like Clark, excellence in PR, mediocrity in delivery

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  13. trout (933 comments) says:

    Unfortunately what the teachers and pupils perceive to be a ‘good school’ is not a good indicator. My granddaughter has spend a term away from a provicial ‘good school’ and attended another only to find that the academic standards expected at her ‘good’ school were way below the expectations of a city school. Too many ‘activities’ at the ‘good school’ that teachers and pupils enjoyed but not enough basic learning (enumeration etc.). Comparative standards are urgently required to sort out such disparity.

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  14. db.. (80 comments) says:

    Simple really, List the pupil, not the school.
    For the purposes of reporting at large for state schools there could be a league of just one.
    That is “the NZ state school”.
    Parents get the information about where their children stand relative to all other children.
    Teachers get “their” individual performance data hidden by dilution and fragmentation.
    Very few in the MSM have the drive to expend the effort required to assemble individual school data.
    The Min of Education can..

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  15. Fisiani (1,025 comments) says:

    For goodness sake it is simple. Allow each parent to take their child opt out of a poorly performing public school and allocate them an education scholarship to take to the private school of their choice.
    Standards are already enforced in our top private schools.
    Samuel Marsden School in Karori frequently takes girls who might be described as academic pigs’ ears and turns them into silk purses. The parents who send their daughters there are not the rich and famous but mostly hard working people from a huge variety of backgrounds and income who fundamentally care and prioritise that their children get not a decent education but an excellent education.
    Tolley’s crusade is to help those kids who have to endure educational mediocrity and teacher union mendacity and obfuscation.

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  16. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    The Government has confirmed it will make it as difficult as possible for the media to produce league tables that rank schools

    You what!

    Hahahahaha!

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  17. Brian Smaller (4,007 comments) says:

    If hundreds of people refused to do their job as directed by their employer, then those hundreds should be sacked. Teachers do not make policy, they teach. This is a backdown, no other way to look at it.

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  18. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    Camryn said: Or perhaps it’s a bold faced lie just to get them to sign up and there’ll be no attempt whatsoever.

    Heeeeeees right!

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  19. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Yep.
    Can’t have our number one system by which socialist indoctrination of our children occurs being held to account. Especially by the parents of their victims. Sounds like a whitewash to me, where parents will be unable to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ primary schools.

    No doubt we will just get a national ‘statistic’ telling us that ‘all is well’ and the kids are doing much better now.
    What a joke!

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  20. Chris C (126 comments) says:

    Yep.
    Can’t have our number one system by which socialist indoctrination of our children occurs being held to account. Especially by the parents of their victims. Sounds like a whitewash to me, where parents will be unable to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ primary schools.

    No doubt we will just get a national ’statistic’ telling us that ‘all is well’ and the kids are doing much better now.
    What a joke!

    Wow, it’s a good job you said socialist indoctrination. Otherwise you might sound paranoid.

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  21. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Chris C 12:50 pm,

    Wow, it’s a good job you said socialist indoctrination. Otherwise you might sound paranoid.

    Yeah, I intentionally didn’t mention the other forms of indoctrination that occurs within primary (and other) schools. Although they do tend to lend themselves to the overall socialist ‘mindset’.
    And not paranoid, just a realist. AGW anyone? Or am I exhibiting more of my paranoia?

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  22. Chris C (126 comments) says:

    You are. Anything you disagree with shouldn’t be taught? Or are you just caring about teaching about theories of global warming, and as long as they just don’t teach that one – and, of course, evolution – you’re alright?

    The simple answer is homeschool your kids. If you don’t like the curriculum, or the prevailing attitudes to science, ignore them and homeschool your kids.

    I’d suggest you start a micronation where you can stick your fingers in your ears while you wander around and do what you want, but history suggests that Tonga would invade within a few months, and I know that’d probably be guaranteed to piss you off.

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  23. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    This is the most outrageous thing the National socialist cowards have done yet.

    They have the gall to proclaim it a momentous victory to surrender to the blackmail of one of the most corrosively damaging elements in our society – the teacher unions.

    The only achievement of these blackboard bullies has been to keep a straight face while proclaiming their sacred duty to the welfare of our children.

    Yet with their every breath, these weasels plot and scheme to condemn those same children – the only hope for our country – by insisting they be taught by dullards whose jobs must be protected at the expense of their pupils’ enlightenment.

    With their every breath, the unions conspire to drag down our country’s best, hardest working and most inspirational teachers to the level of the laziest and most useless. Mediocrity is to be entrenched and excellence smothered.

    And now… and now the National Party, the party founded to stand firm against the moral cancer that is socialism proclaims itself proud to be in league with those same socialists.

    In league against us, the parents of New Zealand.

    And what is our crime? To seek evidence of which schools are best fit to nourish the minds of our most precious responsibility.

    I thought the socialist Muldoon era represented the National Party at its most corrupted. But this action today must run it close.

    Members of the National Party (which I was proud to support in the days when you had a leader with guts who cared deeply about fulfilling this country’s potential): it’s time to show some guts yourselves.

    Resign.

    Now.

    Over this issue.

    If you don’t, you stand with the wreckers and will deserve to be condemned alongside them.

    You might say, “But surely you must give National credit for bringing in the literacy and numeracy standards.”

    I do not.

    Those standards are pathetic by any first world standard. Our Asian immigrants openly mock them for their lack of ambition.

    The role of educating our young should be handed to the best educators in the country – to those inspirational teachers who specialise in accelerated learning and are light years ahead of the bureaucratic dullards.

    Give our children access to their brains and their methods and their standards of excellence and accountability and you will see a changed nation.

    And let’s put an end to the ethical corruption of Labour and National. To surrender to the corrupt ethics of the unions is no less corrupt.

    As to who is a worthy recipient of your vote now, the only current choice must be ACT. Sadly though, that party of such fine principles has not the slightest idea how to convert those principles into words and pictures that can fire up the masses.

    I have designed a party brand which would do just that.

    I am going to a conference in Sydney tomorrow morning and returning on Sunday night. If by Monday morning enough of you have expressed interest in building a new political brand dedicated to truth, excellence and policies that actually work, I will be glad to reveal more.

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  24. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    John Ansell 2:00 pm,

    I have designed a party brand which would do just that.

    I am going to a conference in Sydney tomorrow morning and returning on Sunday night. If by Monday morning enough of you have expressed interest in building a new political brand dedicated to truth, excellence and policies that actually work, I will be glad to reveal more.

    I for one would be interested in knowing more, John.

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  25. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    DPF. This is outrageous. Surely you are starting to have doubts about your support for National and will start really questioning what they are doing instead of trying to cover their backsides.

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  26. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    PS Im interested too John Ansell.

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  27. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    John Adsell. Bring it on! What a wash-up the man you lauded (Plastic Key) turned out to be!

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  28. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    I lauded him as a skilled politician. One principled leader is worth a thousand skilled politicians.

    A principled leader would stand up for his principles – and to the principals. Shame on National that they are so ready to bow to the dictates of bullies.

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  29. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    Tell me it’s not Roger Douglas, the principled leader you’ve in mind for your new party. Tell me!

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  30. BlairM (2,314 comments) says:

    Does anybody in this government have any balls?!

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  31. s.russell (1,601 comments) says:

    I concede that crude league tables can be grossly misleading. But surely the better solution is to make sure that what is released are not crude league tables but comprehensive comparisons that give a true picture of how well students are doing, complied by an independent agency that is not in the pockets of the teacher unions.

    Knowledge is power. Keeping us all in the dark is unacceptable.

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