Fight bad info with good info

I’ve often said in the debate about that the solution is not to ban the media from obtaining school achievement data under the Official Information Act, or even more ridiculously not having the Government even collate the data itself.

The solution is to provide good and useful information, to counter any league tables done in a simplistic fashion by the media. You fight bad information with good information 0- not by banning all information about primary school achievement.

The Herald reported at the weekend:

The education expert who first advised the Government on school standards is about to start work on plans for a national league table system, which he hopes will satisfy parents and teachers.

Professor , who was called to Wellington last month by Prime Minister John Key to explain his concerns about in primary schools, said the Government’s “wait and see” approach to league tables wasn’t good enough.

He did not support league tables, but the introduction of national standards in reading, writing and maths made them inevitable, so it was important to work out a fair solution.

He planned to work with other researchers to produce an independent paper on school league tables this year, suggesting what information parents could reasonably expect.

Professor Hattie, of Auckland University, said results could be shown in context, such as how a school compared with others in its decile. For instance, he helped Metro magazine devise fairer comparisons between NCEA results in its annual survey of Auckland secondary schools.

Superb. This is exactly the right answer. What I would do is plug all the data into a database that will allow people to get decile comparisons and the like.

Last year, the top school on test results alone was the $16,000-a-year private girls’ college St Cuthbert’s, but the best school on improved student achievement was decile 4 Mt Roskill Grammar.

And that is the data which would be really interesting. We’ll see what level pupils are at when they first enter primary school. What I want to know is which schools start with a majority of kids below the national standards for their age, but by the time they leave that school they are above the national standards. Because they are the schools who make the biggest difference.

Principals Federation president Ernie Buutveld said Professor Hattie’s idea was worth exploring and he believed many teachers and principals would like to be involved.

Much better attitude than trying to ban publication or refuse to even let the Government have data on how schools are doing.

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