The independent research into national standards

March 14th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogged how media uncritically reported an NZEI media release as news, including this line:

3News has the head­line: NZEI begins inde­pen­dent assess­ment of National Stan­dards [empha­sis mine]

And the release says:

A teacher union is fund­ing inde­pen­dent research into the impact of the new National Stan­dards in schools. …

“Given the absence of a trial of National Stan­dards and the deep con­cerns the pro­fes­sion and school com­mu­ni­ties have, NZEI has decided to fund this research in a bid to get robust evi­dence about the impact of National Stan­dards on teach­ing and learn­ing,” he said.

The project is being run through the Wilf Mal­colm Insti­tute for Edu­ca­tional Research at the Uni­ver­sity of Waikato and is headed by Prof Mar­tin Thrupp.

Both Whale and I have been blessed with the psychic ability of Deb Webber and Ken Ring and we can predict that this research will conclude that are a disaster and have a hugely detrimental impact on teaching and learning.

Well actually we can’t predict the future. Instead Whale just used Google:

Hmmm… I won­der if this is the same “inde­pen­dent Mar­tin Thrupp that has railed against national stan­dards in March 2010, and is it the same Mar­tin Thrupp who is very active on the national Stan­dards protest site, includ­ing this blog post about how to get trac­tion in the media against National Stan­dards and the same mar­tin Thrupp who sent an email of sup­port to the NZPF for their action against National Stan­dards?

I’m now awaiting the Government of Libya to announce they have appointed independent human rights expert Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi to lead independent research into whether the Government of Libya has breached any human rights.

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28 Responses to “The independent research into national standards”

  1. peterwn (3,239 comments) says:

    Anne Tolley should offer the services of an education expert to be part of NZEI’s panel on National Standards. This would force the NZEI to put its money where its mouth is.

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  2. DT (104 comments) says:

    Yeah, thats pretty messed up. Seriously, Labour activists need to be smarter about this sort of thing. Both major parties do this kind of thing, but Labour activists just seem to entirely lack the guile to do it without looking like losers.

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  3. Inky_the_Red (750 comments) says:

    I take you do not expect it the work to be peer-reviewed. I would have thought that something coming from a NZ would be peered reviewed.

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  4. PaulL (6,024 comments) says:

    Yeah, I think it exposes the world view of these folks. They don’t trust peer reviewed science, they don’t trust anyone else’s independent reviews. They see conspiracies everywhere, so in doing this they think they’re actually doing the same thing that everyone else does. In reality, they’re not……usually you go out of your way to get an arms length relationship, and at least attempt to pick someone independent to do the work.

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  5. Graeme Edgeler (3,280 comments) says:

    Just because someone has made up their mind doesn’t mean they’re not independent.

    Independence and impartiality are not the same thing.

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  6. RightNow (6,966 comments) says:

    Quite right Graeme – independent does not necessarily equate to impartial. Something the media seem not to understand.
    It’s the old pea under the shell game, refer to it as ‘independent’ and hope nobody notices you’ve just palmed the pea.

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  7. Nookin (3,264 comments) says:

    They may have meant “independant of the dispute” ie impartial. Independant and impartial are used very loosely by some people.

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  8. Bill Courtney (161 comments) says:

    Regardless of how the research is labelled, it will be good to add another perspective to the Tolley-funded “independent” research and the so-called expert advisory panel, which is stacked with Tolley supporters. What’s the difference? One of the major concerns that many of us have, is that there is virtually no chance of carrying out good quality independent research into education in New Zealand. The politicisation of ERO (the Education Review Office) is a case in point. ERO should exist to provide good quality audits of schools and the NZ school system. In fact, when Tomorrow’s Schools was proposed, ERO was originally called the “Review & Audit Agency”. But unfortunately both major parties have used ERO as a political toy over the years and the quality of its “research” and observations has suffered as result.

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  9. BeaB (2,104 comments) says:

    Isn’t it good that good teachers go on teaching and good kids go on learning.
    The best advice I ever got was to adopt new policies but don’t implement them.
    We’ve seen lots of things come and go in education, some good, some hopeless.
    This too will pass so much better not to worry and go and sit in this lovely autumn sunshine.

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  10. Jimbob (641 comments) says:

    The biggest kicker is that they think you are stupid enough to believe them.

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  11. PaulL (6,024 comments) says:

    Sure enough, Bill here to say “but it’s just the same as everyone else is doing.”

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  12. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    Independence and impartiality are not the same thing.

    True, but how can someone be described as independent when they have been involved in protests against the thing they are assessing? And are on record as being against it too? I would say they are neither independent, nor impartial.

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  13. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Well said, BeaB.

    The fact is that the power of worker subversion is badly underestimated.

    And it’s funny how DPF is quick to condemn hyperbole and inappropriate comparisons in others, but is quick off the mark himself. The Nazi word has been overused lately, Saddam is dead and I guessed DPF tossed up between Ahmadinejad and Gaddafi – all completely irrelevant. But then, this site is a haven for the old Redsunderthebeds scaremongering!

    It’s also nonsense to say the teaching fraternity wants information suppressed. My understanding is that they want released information to be relevant and fair – and accuracy is highly thought of as well. The current framework of National Standards just doesn’t cut the mustard.

    On the other hand, the closely moderated NCEA provides material for robust comparisons between schools, and this is done each year, publicly, in our media, plus parents can access ERO reports on schools.

    The NZEI has stated it is not opposed to properly formulated standards, and teachers are generally ticking the boxes for the silly charade and getting on with their real work.

    I also doubt that the review will totally condemn standards; rather, it may present opportunities for improvement – the same opportunities the government was informed of from the outset. The important thing, as always, is to examine the evidence presented to support conclusions.

    This ongoing misrepresentation by DPF simply shows that he has an ideological fixation with the education environment, to the degree that he cherrypicks willynilly and invents data to support his predetermined ideas.

    And it’s not just DPF. Key and Tolley constantly quote distorted statistics to show our system is failing when it is one of the best in the world. Saying that 1 in 5 kids leave school unable to read and write is just one, albeit the worst, example. It’s just not true. I see in his opening address to parliament the PM modified that claim to “unable to succeed”, whatever that means.

    Is Gaddafi a success story?

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  14. dime (9,800 comments) says:

    LMAO your Gaddafi line made me actually LOL

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  15. Psycho Milt (2,405 comments) says:

    So, an interest group has arranged for independent advice but carefully selected the independent advisor to be sure they can predict the result? If only this interest group had the moral integrity and political courage of our politicians, who would never dream of setting up independent productivity or welfare working groups along on that basis…

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  16. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    You are so correct Milt. This Gage woman from Canada is the latest Tolley stooge – here to tell us how our education system needs nationals standards and so much more and doing all Tolley’s work on the education budget. Remember John Hattie, now in Melbourne I understand, with his book of all the answers to Education – much touted by Tolley until he said that National Standards could be, in their current form, the most damaging thing in NZ education ever!

    Oh the irony of a post.

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  17. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Luc Hands-on that’s one of the most unfocused, illogical posts you’ve ever made ( and that’s saying something!) in your continuing quest to be wrong on every issue.

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  18. gravedodger (1,545 comments) says:

    And of course this new review with its expert input will undoubtedly come up with dramatic new ways to reduce the appalling fact that 20% of our young leave the universal education system with inadequate numeracy and literacy skills to work in the modern world. A world that has no significant opportunity of a low skilled labour option that the low achievers in earlier times enjoyed (thats not the right word is it) endured but still achieved a degree of dignity that has evapourated as welfare becomes a lifestyle option for so many of the education failures.
    Sheesh they may even come to the conclusion that some teachers are illequipped for the task and should seek alternative work. OK OK OK I am an inveterate dreamer.

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  19. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    The people of NZ voted for a National lead government last election, good on them.

    Self interested groups like teacher unions don’t like what the government is doing i.e, the government that was elected by us, so they try and undermine the government elected by us, ……..it is a subtle form of treason.

    I had to put up with nine years of socail engineering because selfish bastards wanted helen and her mob giving them stuff for nothing, I had to cop that and hated every single day but thats where I live and I put up with it.

    If the union has such a good point have Phil take it to the people and let them decide,……. this is all very simplistic I know but thats democracy, which is of course wasted on humans

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  20. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    Just a simple question for the ‘educators’
    Has there ever been a study that showed that raising the standard of teachers did not
    result in a raising of outcomes ?
    Just asking.
    if we dont need a higher standard of teachers to improve results, why not drop the
    standards for teachers, it will make no difference.
    Love to hear Bill Courtney or any teachers unionist answer that one.

    If the unionists really have the students at heart why not raise the standard for teachers ?
    Is that a no brainer, or what ?

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  21. bigjeanie (14 comments) says:

    NZEI’s “concerned parent Bill Courtney” claims (wrongly, or misleadingly – you decide) that there’s an independent group looking into standards which is stacked with Tolley supporters.

    Yet Whaleoil explains:

    “Both NZEI and the Principals’ Federation flounced out of the independent advisory group which was set up to address concerns.”

    So unions were given a seat at the table – and the chance to influence things – yet they chose to walk away.

    These people just don’t want national standards to work. Never have. Never will. They will do and say anything to disrupt our kids, with the help of willing stooges.

    They don’t want us to know how our children are getting on at school.

    I wonder why they are scared of the truth.

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  22. lilman (949 comments) says:

    Shit I hate teachers,always right,always knowing whats best for my children ,my community.
    Dont mind advice,welcome ideas and direction.
    But union driven drivel,the lack of reasoned debate about choice and measured ranking,I cant stand their pontificating attitude.

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  23. Bill Courtney (161 comments) says:

    Sorry I’m late people – been helping the kids with their homework.

    Where to start…
    First, bigjeanie is wrong to say that I am merely a union voice – nonsense. I’m perfectly capable of putting together my own views, as I did when I prepared my own submission on the big NS petition last year. Second, the reason the sector groups did not participate in the NS Advisory Group, is that the terms of reference are too narrow to allow this to be “addressed” in a meaningful way. This set of Standards is flawed and it is akin to trying constantly to bang a square peg into a round hole. No amount of “advice” from any group would change the fact that the carpenter will keep telling you that it won’t work. But the response from the politicans is to just keep on hitting it harder! They need to go back to the start and do it properly.

    The other night, bereal asked me what motivated me? Simple: two school aged chgildren whose education may well suffer if this goes wrong – as per John Hattie’s paper – and the respect I hold for a public education system that served me so well. It is easy to knock it – and it may not be perfect – but it is still incredibly good by world standards.

    Bereal, I agree that working to improve the quality of teaching will always help – I said the other night that I have never disagreed with that view. But, what has that got to do with NS? You see, you and bigjeanie keep falling into the trap that you think teachers are afraid of NS because it will suddenly “expose” them. What nonsense! NS is a system based solely on the teacher’s own judgement – it is NOT a test based system. So I need to hear from you as to why you persist in this line of thinking??

    Last, don’t be silly bigjeanie, as for saying we don’t want you to know how your kids are doing at school! The assessment against the Standards is done by the teacher, but will it tell you anything of value? If you really want to know how your child is doing, just ask the teacher. But if you don’t trust the teacher now, as it sounds like you don’t, then why would you suddenly start trusting their judgement against the Standards??

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  24. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    Hey Bill C
    How do you think we can raise the quality of teachers ?
    What would you suggest ?
    Is there any way, in your mind ?

    What about if we had a standard and could see who exceeded it and
    who fell far below it, do you think that might be a usefull tool ?

    Bye the way, i dont fall into any trap at all.

    Have a go at just one question then.
    How would you suggest we could raise the standard of teachers ?
    you state you agree it will always help. OK how would you do it ?
    Are you able to address that one question ?
    Go for it.

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  25. Maggie (674 comments) says:

    Reading this thread reminds me of the fundamentalist book burners of days past. Frequently they hadn’t read the volumes they hurled into the flames, but they burned them, anyway.

    Farrar and Slater go one step further. They burn a work that hasn’t even been written yet. Gee, that’s impressive.

    Just wait, fellahs. When the study comes out, you can read it and comment to your heart’s content.

    Until then, stop demonstrating how small minded you both are.

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  26. rach88 (1 comment) says:

    If not National Standards then what?? We need something in place to see what state the education levels of our children are! Quite frankly they are alarming and something needs to be done fast. I have a 5 and 8 year old with my 5 year old falling behind! I don’t take offence to the teacher telling me he’s this way, more what can i do as a parent to help him? the National standards are catching these children before they get too far down the track. I agree that a 5 year old shouldn’t be tested and yes some improvements need doing to the policy but I don’t see anyone else with any bright ideas on how to fix the problem. I am at university at present doing year two of my teacher training and believe that teachers also need to be accountable! Its our job! thats what we are getting paid for. Its the whole education system that needs to be looked at and I think with a little time the standards will show this and hopefully something will be done! Or is that what we are all afraid of???
    Quite frankly i don”t think someone with a one-sided opinion like Martin Thrupp should be leading an investigation in the first place!

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  27. mikeanz (1 comment) says:

    A reply to rach88(1).

    Are you really a university student training to be a teacher? If you are a teacher in training you are indeed a living example of the need for national standards. A quick reading of your post shows me that you are well below the expected standard for writing. Your strangulation of punctuation is well below the expected standard for a child leaving the primary system. Sections of your posting are very hard to comprehend because of your poor writing skills.

    I am a school principal waiting for the extreme language on both sides of the debate to die down. There are some significant flaws in the standards and these flaws need some expert attention. Until the expert attention is applied to them my school will not be fully compliant with the national standards regime. This does not mean I am a rampant anti standards campaigner, it means that I am taking a considered professional stance.

    My main concern is with the standards for mathematics. The rushed implementation has left teachers with some very inconsistent measures to use when making their standards judgments for reporting to parents. I long for a well reasoned professional debate about the content and detail of the standards. Sadly this will not happen while people are forced into camps for or against the standards.

    Until the minster, the unions and NZPF get together and work these issues out I remain in state of limbo. I am a civil servant and I am required to implement the will of the current government. I am also a trained professional and I am ethically required to use my professional knowledge for the benefit of the students in my school. Cool heads need to prevail in this debate, sadly this has not happened yet.

    Surprisingly, only the parents of the school concerned will know that one of the leaders of the ‘anti standards’ coalition of schools has a long history of giving his parents a written report which tells the hard truth about where their child is in relation to national expectations. My own school adopted his report format just as national standards arrived on the scene.

    Let’s get this clear, the leader of the anti standards coalition reports, in writing, to parents in the way that national standards require (and has done so for many years). This shows that the problem is not in the concept but the detail.

    Until the debate on the real issues with the national standards starts to happen I remain uncertain about the outcome. The one certainty I do have is that rach88 has no chance of getting a teaching job unless he/she lifts his/her standard of literacy so that he/she can teach children to meet the required writing standard.

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  28. penguin (7 comments) says:

    I can only deduce from Whale Oil’s comments that he/she has nothing better to do in life and/or has had some negative experiences at school. Slagging off at the NZEI might seem like a positive activity. However, I suggest that Whale Oil steps back a little and balances up the NZEI sponsored research of the National Standards project with all the demands, commands, threats and bullying shown by the Ministry in relation to the enforcement of National Standards and the fragile supportive “research” sponsored by the MOE. Maybe studying some research of overseas negative experiences of schools using versions of National Standards might help to enlighten and inform the Whale. I presume the Whale has never been involved in teaching or working in schools in order to see the reality of life in education and the dedication given to students by teachers and Support Staff.

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