League Tables

January 29th, 2010 at 7:52 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Australian parents yesterday overwhelmed a new federal school rating website, causing it to crash as they ignored teachers’ warnings that they would be misled by data that matched literacy and numeracy with social indicators.

As repairs were made to myschool.edu.au – a site designed to take 2350 hits a second – Education Minister Julia Gillard said My School’s problems had confirmed that parents wanted to be able to compare the performance of schools across the country.

Parents care about the quality of their kids education – this is no surprise.

But opponents continued to criticise the site, warning that it would lead to inaccurate “” that would hit struggling schools in disadvantaged areas.

The Australian Education Union, which represents the nation’s public school teachers, will refuse to do the next round of national testing that provides the raw data for the system unless the Government ensures it does not lead to discriminatory tables.

“Teachers, parents and principals are united in their opposition to damaging league tables which rank schools according to their test results,” New South Wales Teachers Federation president Bob Lipscombe warned before the site went online.

This was introduced by a Labor Government. It is nice to have a labour party that is not captured by the union movement.

The reforms in NZ are more modest. There will be no Government run database of school statistics (even though I think there should be). Any league tables will be because media organisations have gained infromation under the Official Information Act.

NZ Labour wants to amend the OIA so that educational results from schools are more tightly restricted than security and defence information. The public need to be protected from themselves!

In the Press we read:

League tables that rate schools’ performances are inevitable once are introduced, a teachers’ union says.

Three union groups raised fresh fears yesterday that the new national standards will lead to league tables. Education Minister Anne Tolley said she was waiting for answers from a working party set up to look at the matter.

The fear of league tables is what lies at the heart of the unions opposition.

Frankly they need to get over themselves and understand the realities of the Internet age.

First of all there have always been league tables of sorts. For decades newspapers publishes tables of pass marks in School Cert, or number of A bursaries or whatever. Sure, the tables may be misleading, but the answer is not to ban information, but to counter it with more information. We spend billions of dollars on our schools and teachers and parents should be able to access information on said schools.

There are other so called league tables that the media could publish. The number of suspensions. The average experience level of teachers. The proportion of students who stay on to seventh form. The level of “donation” requested. Do the unions want all information on schools made secret?

Tags: ,

40 Responses to “League Tables”

  1. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Those teachers really don’t like people knowing how well they’re doing their jobs do they.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    How can the union not oppose this? Under-performing teachers and the schools where they teach are the union’s bread and butter. The union has no reason to exist if it doesn’t do its best to protect those people. Of course, we should and will ignore their attempts to do so.

    Having said that, I hope the media make an effort to present the data in the right way. Knowing that students in one school got below average results isn’t that useful if the students were performing even worse before coming to that school. Better would be a differential between the year’s results and the results for the same students the previous year. But I doubt the media will go to the trouble of doing this. Which is a good reason to just dump the data on to a public web site and let people with more sense than reporters have at it.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. artemisia (242 comments) says:

    I’d bet it won’t be long before someone sets up a website where parents and pupils can enter their own data. With the majority of families now internet connected the coverage could get wide quickly. It would be ‘unscientific’ as self selecting, but still give parents (inaccurate or at best skewed) information. Unions would surely be better off with an official version which adjusts for relevant factors. Mind you, lower decile schools may have lower internet coverage so the results could look better than they are. Which may suit the unions.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Le Grande Fromage (145 comments) says:

    The Rugby Players Union has apparantly come out in support of the teachers union and is insisting that no scores or league tables are kept during this years super 14. It is obviously not fair to the struggling teams as they will have trouble keeping supporters and attracting new players.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    All one has to do is think about the climategate thing to see what hiding information leads to………….

    Is that right Le Grande Fromage? Just confirms the stupidity that exists in that group as well.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. GMDI (70 comments) says:

    What about this quote

    “”These are highly destructive and lead to game-playing and masking of problems to avoid being negatively labelled as a school,” the paper said. ”

    so really, what there saying is this – “we know there are problems, but we don’t want anyone else to know. therefore if you give people the ability to find out, we will spend less time on education and more on gaming the system so we don’t get found out.”

    goddam unions. the good members are great, but they are paying for parasites to hide the bad members amongst them.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    I hope John Key sees this for what it is and plans accordingly. It is an idelogical struggle between the teaching unions and the government,

    Look no further than the ham fisted attempt by the 1990’s National government to take on the Fire Service union (at the suggestion of the Business Round Table). It was a total rout because the union is very skilled PR wise. The teaching unions (NZEI and PPTA) are potentially in a similar situation and were successful at virtually derailing bulk funding in the 1990’s. For the teaching unions it is pretty well a fight for their continuing existence and relevance.

    There is one thing worth noting. When there are large workforces doing similar work, the workers need to deal with employers in a collective manner, individual worker would get nowhere on their own unless lucky to have outstanding personal qualities. Applies to public hospital doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, prison officers, etc etc.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    As always, the left (in this case the educational unions) assumes that they and only they are sufficiently intelligent, educated informed and just overall so god damn smugly better than everyone else that only they should be privy to sensitive information on education.

    As always, they see the general public are just too damn dumb to deal with the truth, and needing it filtered by the superior management abilities of leftists. They of course are the only ones who can lead us from darkness to light.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. special k (7 comments) says:

    Well said, David. I’m a primary school teacher and also a parent. I don’t agree at all with the union’s stance on this issue and think they’d be better giving up on the battle, given the immense support it has from parents and the community.

    I am a reluctant member of the union not because I agree with any press release they write, but rather for the protection aspect should there be a student accusation or employment issue within the school. To me, NZEI needs to focus their attention on returning teaching to being a respected profession, and the more they fight this, the more damage they are doing.

    In the last NZEI mag I received they had this to say about the introduction of national standards: “They already know the children who are failing, but teachers cannot turn this situation around on their own. A whole-of-community, integrated approach is needed”. Of course, the blindingly obvious problem with this is how is the community meant to help turn the situation around, when the union is fighting so damn hard to keep them from knowing there’s a “situation” in the first place?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. virtualmark (1,528 comments) says:

    Nigel Kearney is right in that the teachers unions pretty much have no choice but to try to shield and protect under-performing teachers … which is essentially saying that parents should view teachers unions’ objectives as being diametrically opposed to parents’ interests.

    But more to the point, it’s bloody hard to discern just where the teachers unions end and the Labour Party begins. I’m really not sure just which is the hand and which is the puppet. So surely the media should be asking the question of just what National Party policy would the teachers unions endorse and support???

    This issue is as much about party politics as it is about a union protecting its patch.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. niggly (830 comments) says:

    One difference between when HC was Labour leader and now with PG as leader, is that under HC Labour (thru the mid 90’s till 2008) excelled in seriously damaging, degrading (and stupid) muck raking. Under PG the muck raking is less noticible, presumably that’s a reflection of PG’s personal style.

    EXCEPT though, when it comes to the teaching unions. Here they are, hand in hand with elements of the Labour muck rakers (think Mallard da duck a couple of days ago when JK reshuffled his cabinet), still carrying on is if there hasn’t been a change of Govt. Sure, I don’t expect the teaching unions to change simply because there was achange of govt, of course not, because certain union execs are embedded in the edu/union system with their prejudices. There’s gonna be plenty of muck (so IMO it’s good that Tolley has shed Tertiary Education to someone else with more energy and vision – at least she now can contrate fully on taking these unions on). It’s ain’t going to be pretty, more inuendo from the teaching unions and Mallard etc, over the course of National in power. Except that at least in this case I feel National mostly has the public on side – despite union opposition, the union are loosing the battle in the court of public opinion….

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    I heard (partially because it’s school holidays still!) the interview with the minister about the new standards. It’s basically been watered down to 1) implementing the new curriculum which, as I understand it, has been in train for several year anyway, but been re-shuffled into “standards” and 2) to create a universal statististic from the range of tests that schools already use.

    At the moment schools use a range of tests to tell you at what *age* level your child is performing. From now on that information is going to be reduced to “above standard”, “at standard” and “below standard”. That’s even less information then before.

    I am a statistician so when I see my child performs at level X then I would guess it could be anything from level X-3 to level X+3. To accurately measure a kid, you’d need him/her to perform to a level they are incapable of anyway. You need to set him/her so many questions that they’d be physically and mentally exhausted (and all you’d end up testing is how much sleep they got the night before and what they had for breakfast).

    But this universal statistic, that trys to take 1 result from many possible tests (ASTLE, PAT etc) and give ONE value, is just the most idiotic thing imaginable. There’s going to be a huge amount of error in the original test, a huge amount of error in the translation from one statistic to another so that it becomes practically meaningless. There is no way anyone can say this is valid in any statistical sense – theoretically it’s sounds hokum and they have never had any time to test it out to see if by some arcane magic it actually has meaning in practise.

    What differs between an accountant and a statistician is that an accountant will give a number but a statistician will give a number *and* how much that number could possibly be in *ERROR*. The Tolley universal statisitic will give no indication of error, which is likely to be enornmous, so that the best schools may look the best schools but infact be no different to the worst schools but noone will have any information to judge.

    Accumulating all the data to produce ranks of schools will just compound the errors. Parents will read the ranks as if they are FACT and base their decisions on their childrens education on them. However, at best they will be inaccurate and incredibly imprecise guesses and give no indication of how imprecise they are.

    This is definitely an accountant’s view of education.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. James (1,338 comments) says:

    As education is a service and not a right the fucking idiots who think that they can mislead and con their “customers” deserve all the shit they will get…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    I want to know how my child is doing viz a viz their class, school year, schools in Wtn, age cohort in NZ, and Australasia in their different subjects.

    The Australian exams give a coherent bit of info back from the results and they do it for OZ, NZ, Singapore and some other places, covering many more kids than NZ has, as far as I know they are just a Uni dept in Sydney.

    Why can’t and why ISN’T our Minedu doing the same for Kiwi kids?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    Why do you need to know how well your kid is doing in their class, in their year, in Wgth, in their age cohort?

    Anything other than knowing age level accomplishment sounds like middle class vanity – “Is my child better than the Jones’s?”.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    mpledger – So they don’t end up like you I suspect.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Swiftman the infidel (329 comments) says:

    “What differs between an accountant and a statistician is that an accountant will give a number but a statistician will give a number *and* how much that number could possibly be in *ERROR*.”

    Self-serving bullshit.

    Some accounting numbers are precise e.g. cash at bank. Other accounting numbers, e.g. provision for doubtful debtors, are known to be estimates only.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. fizzleplug (72 comments) says:

    Also, estimations aren’t errors. Accountants don’t make errors. We are super like that.

    (Accountants who make errors aren’t accountants. They are human).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    The point is NOT that accountants numbers are always precise (who could ever think that!) but … that, if they are imprecise, they don’t give a figure for the level of imprecision. Knowing the error is sometimes more important than knowing the value.

    Brain Smaller – excellent name.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Redbaiter 9:43 am,

    As always, they see the general public are just too damn dumb to deal with the truth, and needing it filtered by the superior management abilities of leftists. They of course are the only ones who can lead us from darkness to light.

    Given enough time, and if nothing changes, the progressives aims will become a self fulfilling prophecy: The public will increasingly become ‘dumbed down’ via the dis-education system and therefore will be entirely at the mercy of their political masters. All decisions of any import will be made by the elitist liberals of society, while the working class will increasingly evolve into a non thinking, non questioning mass – worker units – to be used and abused.

    Not the future I want for myself and my descendants.
    Let’s hope the average man in the street starts to wake up to the leftist agenda – there are signs that he is, but is it too late?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Red Sam (122 comments) says:

    If any of you have primary-aged children, then you will have received school reports at the end of last year (possibly mid-year too). The reports would have been clear about what your child is able to do and what their next ‘learning steps’ are – possibly included reading, writing and maths levels as well.

    If you couldn’t comprehend the school report (which take hours to write, are edited and checked by the boss), then you need to go back to primary school to focus on basic reading and comprehension.

    Madame Tolley’s policy is a waste of money. The money would be better spent on the schools and communities where under achievement and poverty is already very obvious. Schools and teachers already have the necessary assessment data, and as a teacher with a class of 18-30 students, it is very clear who is achieving and who is not.

    [DPF: You're a teacher and you start off by insulting parents! Then you claim to know the format of every primary school in NZ - all 2,000 of them. And with greater arrogance you claim everyone already knows who is failing, despite the fact nothing is done about the failing kids. And finally you miss the point that the reason the Govt wants to know who is not up to standard is so they can deliver extra money and resources to the schools with those kids!]

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. special k (7 comments) says:

    Red Sam: “The reports would have been clear about what your child is able to do and what their next ‘learning steps’ are – possibly included reading, writing and maths levels as well.”

    Really? I have taught in a school where we were only allowed to phrase school report statements in the positive ie. little Johnny CAN count to ten… his next learning step is to be able to count to twenty. That’s all well and good, but what if every other student in class can solve algebraic equations? I had a lovely Korean parent come and thank me for all my hard work in writing the report and then politely ask (through a translator) “does he need remedial help or extension?”. It’s great that your child’s school report is written in such a way that you can understand it, but not all schools are currently doing so.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    A lot of things are done for failing kids. I know, I work as a parent helper in school. I have been working with kids who needed a catch-up. I have used resources from the roving team at MinEd who work with kids lagging in literacy.

    To say people don’t know who is failing and nothing is done about them is just plain wrong.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    As a former Auditor the nose always twitches when one hears of individuals or groups seeking to suppress information.

    When they tell you that you wouldnt understand the results the nose twitches even more. This is code for Hell we cant let you know about what we have been up to.

    Good governance is all about disclosure and transperancey. Any organisation like the various teachers unions that oppose such good practise have something to hide.

    A dirty dark secret that needs to be let out of the closet.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Lastman
    yeah well all of my body is a quivering at Obama’s locking up of all of his past information……

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    The irony is that these same mediocre teachers have no trouble grading and ranking the kids.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. RainbowGlobalWarming (288 comments) says:

    The union fag hags and substandard gimps abound.

    Teacher unions need to get the fuck out of the way of parents rights or get a new job.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. Crusader (314 comments) says:

    The possibility that information may be misunderstood or even misused, has never been a good reason not to collect information in the first place.

    The point of collecting such information is identifying where improvements can be made. FFS this is the reason we collect data on anything at all, e.g. accident statistics. Would we refuse to collect info on road crashes in case people should avoid certain black spots?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Red Sam (122 comments) says:

    “You’re a teacher and you start off by insulting parents! ”

    Not usually, unless dealing with unfortunate souls suffocated by a loony conservative ideology. Thankfully few exist. If teachers piss off parents in New Zealand schools then they’re pretty much toast. However, despite the rhetoric on this blog at times, most teachers and parents have a pretty good relationship (the them and us conspiracy found here is simple two dimensional nonsense) and lots of joy working in the interests of students.

    “Then you claim to know the format of every primary school in NZ – all 2,000 of them.”

    There’s a fair amount of consistency these days, David. ERO takes a look at these sorts of things or the Sunday Star Times exposes them. Anyway, what’s Nanny Tolley’s answer? Just have one across the board standard format for the entire country, including pretty graphs borrowed from Plunket. I imagine that’s what they do in North Korea. Maybe there’ll be a picture of Anne and John (as well as the NZ Government logo) on the front page of the report.

    “And with greater arrogance you claim everyone already knows who is failing, despite the fact nothing is done about the failing kids”

    And with greater arrogance you claim that nothing is done about failing kids. Though much better to say, “for kids who require greater tuition in a particular area/s.” There are numerous programmes in New Zealand schools for these students, including Dr Marie Clay’s world renowned reading recovery programme (home grown and about 25 years old). Schools DO know the students who require extra assistance, and if they’re receiving extra assistance, it’s standard practice for their parents to know too. The problem is many schools don’t have the financial and/or human resourcing to fix the problem. There is also no silver bullet to solve underachievement once a child is disengaged and turned off learning.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    ” Not usually, unless dealing with unfortunate souls suffocated by a loony conservative ideology.”

    That remark is a good indication as to why brain damaged vindicative and politically partisan Progressive bastards like you should not be near children and not be involved in education. You put your ideology before your service to parents and their offspring.

    One day you deceitful leftist scum will quit your disgusting self serving lies about how well the education system is working. That’s the day pigs will pilot space craft around the sun.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    If only teachers following your ideology were allowed to teach RB there would be about a hundred thousand kids per classroom.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    RedSam,

    If the status quo is so hunky dory why are so many ERO reports for schools focusing on a better assessment frameworks?

    I postulate it is because there is a mish mash of several methods used across the school system and no national standard by which parents and employers (the MoE & Govt.) can assess school and teacher performance.

    Kinda like having drivers licenses issued using different tests and assessment methods in different cities.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Red Sam hasn’t yet learned that on Kiwiblog facts count for nothing. Kiwiblog is about ideology. However…

    There is so much misinformation bandied about here that it almost defies sensible rebuttal.

    1. Reporting to parents is, according to Tolley herself, last year, not the issue because generally schools report well, anyway.

    2. Tolley and Key continually promote the myth that 150,000 Secondary pupils leave school each year unable to read and write. If this was true, I wouldn’t be stuffing about with standards – I would bring out the firing squads! Points arising here:

    Standards are aimed at the Primary sector, but the most quoted statistics (the 5% claim) relate to the Secondary sector.

    The figure is for those students who leave without completing NCEA. But nearly all students have NCEA papers; just many, for a whole array of reasons, don’t complete the qualification. The figure you really want to know is how many leave school without Core Literacy. I’ve tried but its buried too deep for me! And even those who fail that are not necessarily functionally illiterate, but that’s not a reason not to aim higher.

    Saying that those kids who do not complete NCEA cannot read or write is simply not only gross distortion of reality but evidence of deliberate, ideologically motivated, public manipulation and/or of infantile thinking.

    “Teachers are scared of league tables because it will show them up.” Excuse me, what crap. High decile school teachers would love league tables, just as mediocre teachers can hide behind the standards. Low decile school teachers are not afraid for themselves – not many want their jobs – but for their pupils and for the reputation of their school. And yes, also, I am sure, in the certain knowledge that the ignorant bullies imbued with the mob mentality (as evidenced here and in the so-called Climate Change debate) will be at their throats like rabid dogs.

    ERO and the Ministry of Education already publish the achievement levels of individual schools, in context. That’s the important proviso league tables omit.

    “Schools say they know who the failures are but do nothing about it.” Well, the failing kids are part of a worldwide demographic with certain things in common: low income parents, problems at home etc. And schools do what they can within the resources provided by governments, but teachers are not social workers.

    3. The biggest lie of all is that promoted by DPF that the government wants to direct EXTRA resources to failing kids. If that was their intention, they could have done that without labeling tens of thousands of primary school children as failures. All overseas and New Zealand specific research already exist that tells the government where to direct its energy and the main one is, believe it or not, to reduce the number of children living in relative poverty. It’s not rocket science!

    Chopper Tolley’s agenda is to REDUCE education spend.

    I predict she won’t last the year out as Minister.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Luc you say “ERO and the Ministry of Education already publish the achievement levels of individual schools, in context.”

    What context?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    We have a saying in business “if you dont measure it, you cant manage it”. It applies pretty much anywhere, including here.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    In business measuring too much or too often can be counter productive. For example a tradesman doesn’t measure the wear on his tools on each job he does, nor does he count every screw. It’s pointless spending dollars to count cents.

    Smart business is knowing what’s worth measuring.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Context includes things like: measuring a school’s achievement and performance in relation to decile level (ie. socioeconomic status of the contributing communities), teacher attitude, student responses (to ERO interviews or inquiry, for example), support programmes in place to address student need, teacher professional development (although Tolley’s also cut that to the absolute bone), and what proportion of the school are immigrant and Non English Speaking Background (NESB) students.

    This last group tends to be represented in larger numbers in lower decile city schools, and, of course, their achievement rates are lower for their age.

    Look for yourself on any school website at their ERO report.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    No Pete
    If there were teachers that followed RB they’d be teaching with a ratio of less than 20:1 as a basis.

    the issue is their wanting to keep power by controlling the info flow to parents.
    I say all power to parents before the state and teacher unions.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. Crusader (314 comments) says:

    PG says “In business measuring too much or too often can be counter productive. For example a tradesman doesn’t measure the wear on his tools on each job he does, nor does he count every screw. It’s pointless spending dollars to count cents.”

    But in business, at least some standardised measurement must be done. The tradesman who does not check wear and tear on his tools annually (or choose your time period) is a fool, and the one who does not count packs of screws used will soon be out of business.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote