A refreshing blog from John Pagani:
Principals say they say they can’t give us objective measurements of how our kids are doing in relation to his or her peers.
I don’t believe them. No one believes them. Principals themselves don’t believe it.
What’s really going on is they believe it’s not desirable. And parents think principals are wrong.
Parents know that by a certain age their kids should be able to do some things.
No parent is saying ‘mark my child as a failure.’ We know every kid is different. But we cannot know if they have talents or if they need help unless we know whether they are making as much progress as other children.
Exactly. I just wish Labour had the same view as John Pagani on this.
I’m glad we’ve moved on from the days of ‘this child didn’t make it so that’s the end of that’. But what we want teachers to tell us now is: ‘it’s ok, this child is doing about the same as all the others’; Or, ‘a bit better than I would expect for her age’; Or, ‘he needs help to catch up, and this is what we are going to do.’
And many parents are frustrated those clear statements are so damn hard to get.
Instead, principals hit us with glibness like this: “You can’t write a novel with 3 letters.” Excuse me. I know you can’t. But I don’t want you to write a novel with 3 letters. I want you to tell me in clear language whether my kid is doing about as well he or she should be doing for his or her age.
One can communicate whether or not a child is achieving at the minimum level expected for that age group, without labelling them a failure.
It drives parents nuts to hear teachers say ‘it’s hard to tell you when kids have grasped something’, or ‘you can’t say a child should have learned a skill by the age of 8.’ If most children have learned something and ours hasn’t – we really want to know that. And when you won’t tell us, we think that’s about your discomfort with accountability.
And it’s even worse to tell us, “Underachievement is so closely related to poverty and unemployment and other issues beyond the school environment.” So what? Even an unemployed or impoverished parent wants to know how their kid is doing. It is arrogant and nasty for principals to make excuses before they even give the kids a chance.
I’m not a teacher basher. If I didn’t think we were lucky to have so many talented and professional staff who do so much, I wouldn’t want to trust my kids’ education to them. This debate is held back by people who sneer at teacher unions and repeat crocked ideas imported from countries behind us in educational achievement.
I sneer at teacher unions, but not teachers. And there is a big difference. I actually want the good teachers and principals paid much more and given the ability to manage their schools more fully.
In the comments, one person said:
I am a former secondary teacher. Kids are measured at Y11 onwards through NCEA. Why wait until then to find out they are struggling. Kids already know where they fit into the class structure so why try fooling them. The sooner weaknesses are identified, sooner they can be corrected.
I have found over recent months that many secondary teachers are very supportive of national standards. The reason is that so many kids and parents never realise they are struggling or not achieving at a high enough level until they get to secondary school, by which time it is almost too late. So this puts huge stress on the secondary teachers and worse parents blame them, because they say that they never got told Johnny wasn’t doing okay at primary school, so if he now isn’t doing okay at secondary school, it must be that school’s fault.Tags: John Pagani, national standards