A schools database

February 2nd, 2012 at 9:50 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

The Government appears set on publishing primary school performance data, criticised by a teacher union as “junk information”.

Education Minister yesterday said she would consider setting up a website similar to the MySchool resource that operates in Australia.

The Australian example “deals with a number of the concerns that have been rumoured” about the risks of , Ms Parata said.

Comparisons between schools on MySchool were only between “statistically similar schools,” giving a fairer picture of performance.

“I think that parents vest a lot of trust in the principals and teachers of the education sector – and so they should – and that trust should be returned by letting parents know accurate information about what’s happening,” she said.

I think it is far better to have a database which allows parents to do “smart” comparisons, such as between schools with the same decile rankings, rather than just leave it to the media to compile their own tables.

The solution to bad data is good data – not banning the publication of data.

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29 Responses to “A schools database”

  1. flipper (3,273 comments) says:

    Thank God Hekia does not have Gillard’s twang.
    But if she follows Gillard’s example and deals to the education unions A LA Gillard (on this issue), she will have done the nation a service.
    Go get ‘em Hekia!

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  2. MikeMan (171 comments) says:

    We want a blend of Gillard and Chris Christie on this issue IMHO.

    Bust the unions ass and bring in performance based pay.

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  3. 3-coil (1,184 comments) says:

    The history teachers among these unionists must see the parallels with “book burning” of the past – is it too much to expect them to explain the merits of this course of action to their fellow travellers?

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  4. YesWeDid (1,003 comments) says:

    Anne Tolley is on record on a number of occasions saying the government would not be publishing league tables.

    So I guess this is one of those ‘dynamic environment’ changes.

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  5. redqueen (345 comments) says:

    Just as a technical point, it’s not the data that is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s the analysis/tool provided. The school results should remain constant, but the analytical tool being provided may limit inexperienced users from attempting to cross-reference things which are of no information value. The biggest danger is not an abundance of data, but rather the poor analytical abilities of users (hence keeping it away from the media, I suppose).

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  6. samtheman (40 comments) says:

    MikeMan – How would you get performance-based pay to work? Basing it on student ‘results’ is a recipe for corruption. I have a feeling that the cost required to accurately gauge a teacher’s performance will outweigh the benefits of performance pay.

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  7. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    “which allows parents to do “smart” comparisons, such as between schools with the same decile rankings”

    All good in theory, but the reality is that parents choose schools (and we are talking primary schools here) based on word of mouth with neighbours, friends, their own experience, what school they went to, location etc etc.
    It’s not like choosing a TV or a car comparing this stat and that.
    What happens if after a couple of years the school drops its rating, would you move your kid to a better ranked school?
    I chose my kids primary school by visiting the school and talking to the principal. Something as simple as seeing kids art / pcitures etc displayed proudly on classroom walls tells me more than a % rating on a website.

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  8. Fisiani (858 comments) says:

    Parents who care about education will want as much information like this as possible.
    Anne Tolley was correct. The Government will not publish league tables. The Government will simply publish the information. The media can soon assemble a league table from that information if that seems a good idea.
    Would you really want your child to attend a primary school where the achievement rate in maths is just 7%?
    http://www.times-age.co.nz/news/national-standards-fail-pupils-says-principal/1253955/
    Roll on measuring success and rewarding good teachers. Performance can be measured and compared. Struggling teachers can be identified and helped. Appalling teachers can be shown the door. Teaching can truly become a profession rather than just a job.

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  9. Keeping Stock (9,791 comments) says:

    If the education unions think that Hekia Parata is going to be a softer touch after Anne Tolley, then they are in for a very rude surprise. I believe that she will be an outstanding Minister, and her endorsement of this proposal is good value.

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  10. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    Ahh Disclosure and Transperancey. These are things that the Teachers Union are scared witless of. It would mean the end of their High Priest and Priestess all knowing looking down on their customers as ignorants who dont understand the complexities and unable to make a judgement as to what constitutes a good school or a good teacher.

    Fact is the Teachers Union are a bunch of 19th Century Luddites who need to be dragged into the 21st Century kicking and screaming sat down and told the fact which are they are their to serve their customers being the parent on the first hand the kids they teach on the second hand and the hard working tax paying citizens who pay them on the third hand.

    When these imbeciles get to grips with this reality then they can progress.

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  11. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    smatheman. The model is simple.

    The teachers teach the kids.

    The kids complete on line assessments from time to time that are transmitted to totally independent assessors who dont know the names of the kids or the school they come from.

    The assessements are transmitted to another point that collates and issues the results.

    Simple cost effective independent transperant. All the good things one wants from such a system.

    The teachers Union are shit scared of such a modle as it will show up the good the bad and the ugly and they wont be able to do as they do now and cover up the disasters in the class room as they do now

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  12. RightNow (6,348 comments) says:

    I agree somewhat with voice of reason on this. Talking to other parents is IMO a superior method to league tables. Perhaps if I’d done that I could have chosen a better school for my son two years ago.

    On the other hand, the principal was (and still remains) the source of the problems at that school, so I wouldn’t recommend that as a reliable way to choose a school.

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  13. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    samtheman

    One other point. I would make IMPROVEMENT the basis of performance pay.

    Inother words in any decile school the measure is the amount of improvement over the statistical norm a teacher achieves that counts for SOME of their pay.

    Result Good teachers get rewarded for the improvement they produce against the measuered norm

    And PLEASE dont tell me as teachers do you cant measure thsi stuff.

    its BULLSHIT. You can but they dont want to.

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  14. adamsmith1922 (879 comments) says:

    Hartevelt is a repeater of teacher union ‘information’ in a totally uncritical manner

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  15. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    It’s all divisive rubbish that will cause countless problems for my generation actually raising kids, and putting them through school. As opposed to pontificating grandparents who love how National exists to put the boot into unions. That’s why this will be so beloved. In reality all the teachers I know are professionals about to shoot off overseas where they are actually appreciated.
    I’m with VOR and RN – best way to find the school that suits is to talk to the school and other parents. It’s frustrating not being able to pick a school based on a rank – but everyone will just pick the school with the highest rating.

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  16. Pete George (21,826 comments) says:

    From my past experiences the quality and popularity of a school is closely related to the quality of the principal.

    Maybe principals should be on better pay scales, but more easily removed for non-performance.

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  17. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    Pete George

    Agree 100% IMHO the best school principals should be rewarded at the level of the CEOs of our best performing companies.

    Look at the value they have the ability to create. Take a school with 1000 pupils. If the princial can attract and retain the best teachers who then set about maximising the all around ability of each of the 1000 pupils the economic and social value to the country would be in the Billions of dollars over the life of those pupils.

    Because we know they would go on to have and raise similar high quality citizens The vertious circle as its known.

    Again IMHO the best teachers are also hopelessly underpaid. In my world a teacher who consistently improved the puplis they taught should be paid at least the same as a senior level executive in a company or in a government department or local authority.

    Im thinking for the cream of the crop $200K pa.

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  18. Pete George (21,826 comments) says:

    It would be interesting to compare salaries of principals and teachers with government and local body bureaucrats.

    And then it would be interesting to compare the value good ones can potentially add to our society.

    Starting with kindergarten level, where problems that are identified and properly dealt with can have a flow on effect right up the education chain and into working society.

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  19. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    Yes early childhood is were the biggest difference can be made IMHO As the Jesuits said Give me a child until he is 7 and I will give you the man.

    Its those first 7 or so years that sets the scene for later.

    My wife was an early childhood worker Babies (yes some on months old) up to 5 years. She said she could pick out those who would make it and those who wouldnt very early on.

    And of course she did her best to try and make the best of what was presented.

    As to the pay comparsions good government would be on to this and using sensible measures to ensure we get the best outcomes.

    Whilst not a card carrying Commi I oppose the obscence amounts paid to Directors CEO and senior executives often for bloody terrible results.

    I always look at the past 5 years returns to shareholders versus the pay to directors and CEOs when considering investing in a company.

    It tells you a lot about the mentality of those governing

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  20. RightNow (6,348 comments) says:

    For your reference, the (bad) principal at the school we’ve just pulled our son out of gets $116k p/a including the various allowances etc (such as $3k p/a performance pay).
    That’s apart from expenses, which include a mileage allowance for travelling to meetings (even at the school) and a cellphone completely paid for by the school (including personal calls). Membership to the Principals Federation is paid by the school.

    The school had a roll of about 220 last year. This year it’s below 200 as many parents have moved their kids.

    If the principal was doing a good job I’d think this was fair pay for a school that size. A principal doing a good job in a school of 1000+ students should be worth a lot more.

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  21. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    “I chose my kids primary school by visiting the school and talking to the principal”

    I might add that my tallk with the principal was at lunch time and the great interaction he had with the kids as we walked around was a great pointer as well.

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  22. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    RightNow That principal is getting over paid.

    And thats my point. The really good ones are under paid and the rest are over paid. This is because of the Unions forcing Grade scales so the dumb arses get almost the same as the brilliant ones.

    The Min of Ed like most government departments take the easy way out. That is pay them all the same regardless so the civil servants dont have to get off their arses and go out into the field.

    Do they still have school inspectors and if so what do they do. I remember ( the good old days) when we had to get the school ship shape and bristol fashion for the school inspectors visit

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  23. RightNow (6,348 comments) says:

    There’s a long history with this principal and I’m reluctant to share too much that could identify the school etc as action is currently underway – has been for a few years actually but is a long process. It isn’t helped by the appointment of ex-principals to the role of commissioners. What is notable is that the MoE don’t seem to conduct any scrutiny of the commissioners themselves. There’s no-one watching the watchers.
    I believe the ERO acts as the inspector these days. It is notable the school is currently reviewed annually.

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  24. samtheman (40 comments) says:

    Holy shit lastmanstanding you are making a lot of sense here, take it easy! Good teachers and principals can’t really be paid enough for the positive effects they have on the future generation, and despite not being against unions in principle, the teachers’ unions do make it difficult to get rid of the crap ones. We can all remember the teacher that single-handedly put us off a subject with their teaching.

    I despair for the future of teaching because the good students aren’t becoming teachers any more. I think the government should signal that teachers’ pay will jump by 50% in 5 years time, and during that time offer scholarships to entice top school leavers to become teachers. This time should also be used to find those teachers who aren’t performing and move them on.

    Your method for assessing teachers’ performance would probably work at secondary school, but my fear is that if it was implemented at primary school it would result in teachers only teaching what was to be assessed, robbing children of fundamental primary school experiences such as sport, art, swimming, technology, etc. We’re already at risk of raising a generation who have lost that curiosity and willingness to experiment without making primary schools maths and writing academies.

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  25. Pete George (21,826 comments) says:

    sametheman – you raise a good point, assessing teacher performance is very difficult.

    If a teacher standard was introduced and they were assessed against that the teachers that work the standard will be rewarded, but the best teaching, inspiring and motivating students to achieve can involve intangibles.

    And much of good teaching success may not be obvious until years later.

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  26. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Apparently the ERO know full well who the bad principals are. We need mechanisms for dealing with that. It’s the principal that sets the tone of the school. Performance pay = more teachers overseas. it won’t be the dummies either. They will be will versed in gaming the system, and all the admin rubbish.

    http://nowoccupy.blogspot.com/2012/02/kiwi-braindrain-generation-exit.html

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  27. Mark (1,302 comments) says:

    DPF I agree that good data is better but the missing part in the equation in respect of the current National Standards is having a moderation programme so that we can have some confidence that we are comparing apples with apples and that the Data provided by the ministry is good data. It beggars belief that this is not being done already as part of the ERO review programme.

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  28. farmerdes (16 comments) says:

    Rightnow– annual ERO review = alarm bells!

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  29. orewa1 (425 comments) says:

    The standoff between (National) politicians and teachers has been one of the most negative elements of the education system over recent times, reducing the mana and authority of the teachers to do one of society’s most importand and challenging jobs. The vast makority are competent, dedicated and highly effective.

    There continue to be faults on both sides. But the award for bottom of the league table has to go to Anne Tolley for her incessant, shrill, mindless teacher bashing. I hope Hekia Parata has Tolley well in her view as a negative role model

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