The Press on league tables

June 22nd, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

reports:

There is a tinge of alarmism, even something slightly hysterical, in the opposition of the education establishment to the publication of the performance of primary schools as measured by national standards.

Unions, teachers and principals have been united for some time in trying to have such information withheld from public scrutiny. …

The answer to all the argument over national standards information is not to try to suppress it, but rather to release it along with as much other information as possible to try to give an accurate assessment of schools’ performance on which parents can safely rely.

Information about secondary schools’ National Certificate of Educational Achievement performance has been made public and the media have made of them for several years now without any serious adverse consequences.

There is no reason why statistics on national standards should be treated any differently.

The response to “bad data” should be “good data” not censorship. Ideally we should have an online schools database like in Australia, where parents can look up and compare schools over a range of data.

 

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24 Responses to “The Press on league tables”

  1. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    Riddle me this:

    Our kids go to a decile 10 school, full primary, 250 roll. I know all the teachers well, friends with several, on the BoT etc etc. None want to be part of the union, nearly all support NS, and all are keen – guardedly – for league tables.

    I would have expected maybe half or thereabouts, but nearly all of them? Is there a revolution waiting to happen?

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  2. trout (939 comments) says:

    Take away the compulsory deduction of union fees from wages and then see how much support the activists have. At least in Oz they are reviewing compulsory deductions that are then used to build up a warchest for political action. Not too different from the compulsory Student Association fee issue really.

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  3. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    Just another example of how the CHCH press is nothing short of a newsletter from the National Party.

    And I keep paying my monthly subscription for it to Fairfax.

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  4. Rightandleft (663 comments) says:

    Anecdotal evidence means nothing. Your teacher friends are not representative of the whole body of teachers. They want nothing to do with the union, but 96% of teachers do belong to the union. Also, don’t lump all the teacher unions together. It’s the NZEI that is so strongly against National Standards. The PPTA isn’t opposing them.

    As a secondary school teacher I don’t really mind league tables. In fact I think they are much fairer, whatever their flaws, than the decile rating system which is used as a de facto league table. When we in the union uphold NZ as a top rate education system we are in fact citing a league table assembled by the OECD. When I decided which university I wanted to go to I looked at the league tables.

    The problem with National Standards being used for league tables is that they are not national or standard! If we really want a proper league table we need to first introduce some actual standardised testing to base it on. I’m not saying I’m opposed to that at all, just that using the current system for league tables is stupid.

    Also it isn’t fair to say schools don’t want to be critiqued or to have parents know how good they really are because they already have ERO reports published on them every three years at least. If parents want to know the quality of their local school, read the ERO report.

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  5. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Given that the Right reckon the education system is afflicted with various problems, I can only conclude that teachers must be doing an amazing job to have students achieving world class results. Funnily enough, the Right bang on about outcomes but go strangely quiet when students’ outstanding results are mentioned. Anyone would think that the Right wants kids to fail.

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  6. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Given that the Right reckon the education system is afflicted with various problems, I can only conclude that teachers must be doing an amazing job to have students achieving world class results.

    Are you trying to say that not one kid in the New Zealand education system is failing? Or do your world class results exclude those who haven’t quite cut the mustard?

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  7. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Mr Farrar could of course have quoted from this article, but it wouldn’t have suited his prejudices. Far easier to ignore concerns about league tables and hope for the best.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/7138029/School-league-tables-would-be-damaging

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  8. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Are you trying to say that not one kid in the New Zealand education system is failing?

    I look at National MPs and realise that the education system was far from perfect 40 or 50 years ago. There will always be kids that fail. I suspect that you would label a failure a kid who leaves school without formal qualifications and begins an apprenticeship.

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  9. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    I can easily and cheaply tell you the best schools based on student achievement. Just test all their IQ’s and rank them along with the decile of the school. That will tell you that good middle class kids in good middle class suburbs do best at school.

    Then you can pay all the other teachers double so they can work their butts off to make up for hopeless parents in poor areas so their kids are given the great leg-up that good teachers have always given disadvantaged kids. And then give those teachers a whopping bonus for every kid that reaches whatever standard we choose to set – a high one of course.

    The world would be transformed for a whole new generation.

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  10. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    ross69, that’s the difference between your thinking and right thinking, we think it’s worth trying to do better than 80%.

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  11. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    The interesting thing that is going on in the States because of the stress on kids around national/state testing and the use of that data for teacher performance ratings is that parents are delaying the entry of their kids, especially boys, into first grade. Wikipedia says “academic redshirting occurs at the rate of about 9% per year among kindergarten-age children” i.e. about 9% of kids don’t enter first grade at the appropriate time and are held over for a year.

    It will be interesting to see how many NZ schools start asking kids to repeat a year and what reasons they give. And who’s benefit it is for – the school’s position on the league table or the kid’s.

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  12. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Steve McCabe on RNZ’s The Panel ran up the colours a little while ago (he’s a teacher). His reason for thinking league tables are a Bad Idea(TM) is basically that there always has to be a school at the top and at the bottom, and the one at the top will be complacent once they’re there.

    I wonder how companies cope when they release a market leading product or service.

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  13. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    I look at National MPs and realise that the education system was far from perfect 40 or 50 years ago. There will always be kids that fail.

    Yet National MP’s are likely to have succeeded in Private enterprise, on the other hand how many Labour MP’s have run successful businesses?

    I suspect that you would label a failure a kid who leaves school without formal qualifications and begins an apprenticeship.

    You really are a moron. You’re falling into the generalization trap, you’ve been snookered and now you’re looking for any small angle to worm out of your line of argument. And, no I would not – the person who leaves school without a formal qual, then does an apprenticeship to learn a trade is someone who is willing to put in the hard yards and doesn’t want to give up to get ahead in this world and support themselves financially. Maybe that person left school cause their teacher’s were mainly piss useless and couldn’t keep them engaged and they knew their only chance was to get out in the world and learn a trade – good on them I say.

    You must hate those people, self reliant, in time they have the chance to work to being a small business owner, not willing to be reliant on the state. Sounds like a National voter.

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  14. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Hear hear Bevan

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  15. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    The union doesn’t really want “good” data. The way it is now is just the way they like it -with them in charge.

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  16. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    The response to “bad data” should be “good data” not censorship.

    And the response to people who want to fuck with the education system based on bad data should be, well, pretty much what the people in the education system are doing.

    …decile 10 school… and …all are keen – guardedly – for league tables.

    No shit? I wonder why that is?

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  17. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    Ross69: No we don’t think the status quo is acceptable. The fact that we have a core of students who lift the average up tremendously doesn’t change the huge group of students who get nothing out of education. It really says a lot when people on a particular side of the argument are prepared to accept the status quo. It’s failing a lot of kids, and regardless of a top echelon who lift our averages performances, some new ideas should be at least given a CHANCE to provide for all the kids who get nothing.

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  18. ionmannz (6 comments) says:

    Ok hmmokrightitis, so would your teacher friends (from the decile 10 school, full primary, 250 roll where “I know all the teachers well, friends with several, on the BoT etc etc”) then be willing to work in a decile one school and have their “work” subjected to league tables? I suspect not. All respect to them but the reality is that student achievement is a four way relationship between the student, their teacher, their family and their community. I challenge many of the league table proponents to hop out of their comfort zone and go teach in a decile one school. Not for a term or a few weeks but for a couple of years at least and then tell me (or prove to me) how their supposedly “superior” teaching skills have saved the day and proved that underachievement in low decile schools is just bad teaching? CF the following… “Are higher mortality rates in low decile areas because of bad doctors or attributed to the affects of low socio economic factors”

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  19. Bogusnews (474 comments) says:

    UpanComer is completely correct.

    In the early 80 boys represented just over 60% of the top maths and science students. This infuriated the feminists who were in the middle of the “unisex brain” era. So the teachers were told they had to redevelop these curriculums to make them more interesting for girls.

    They succeeded, with girls now dominating all fields. I was listening to a maths professor at auckland uni about two years ago complaining that 65% of the young people coming in to do maths related degrees no longer understood the basic concepts of maths. He stressed that the ones who got the new system (the ones they boast about in the overseas tests) did incredibly well, but it was a small proportion of them that did that.

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  20. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    “The response to “bad data” should be “good data” not censorship”

    David you have let your cheer leading role for the national party blind your judgement. So you would have league tables made from unreliable data and give them to parents to make education choices for their children. Fucking brilliant.

    Surely the simple answer to the issue is that before National follow their original but undisclosed aim of league tables they need to put in place a proper moderation programme for National standards so that these figures can be relied on as being consistently applied between schools. The idiot that wrote this article for the Press uses the properly moderated NCEA as his justification for the acceptability of League tables for primary schools on based on a system that is open to varied interpretation.

    As a parent I am really worried at the education policy making of this government. They have the arrogance to think that they can take a very good system and make it better without any engagement with the teachers. My concern is they are going to take what is a very good system and fuck it.

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  21. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    hmmokrightitis (526) Says:
    June 22nd, 2012 at 3:37 pm
    Riddle me this:

    Our kids go to a decile 10 school, full primary, 250 roll. I know all the teachers well, friends with several, on the BoT etc etc. None want to be part of the union, nearly all support NS, and all are keen – guardedly – for league tables.

    I would have expected maybe half or thereabouts, but nearly all of them? Is there a revolution waiting to happen?

    Fuck now that is a surprise. Now go and visit a decile 1 school, talk to the teachers and see how much they want league tables. Of course the decile 10 school teachers want league tables, shows how much better they are than their Decile 1 school colleagues who get kids coming to school hungry, have little or no support at home and don’t have access to the Internet, unlimited reading material or parents who have the time or inclination to take their kids to the library.

    Does it make them better teachers. In all likelihood not, but will they be lauded as far better teachers by the parents of those decile 10 school kids, you bet!

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  22. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    UpandComer (186) Says:
    June 22nd, 2012 at 10:48 pm
    Ross69: No we don’t think the status quo is acceptable. The fact that we have a core of students who lift the average up tremendously doesn’t change the huge group of students who get nothing out of education. It really says a lot when people on a particular side of the argument are prepared to accept the status quo. It’s failing a lot of kids, and regardless of a top echelon who lift our averages performances, some new ideas should be at least given a CHANCE to provide for all the kids who get nothing.

    There are new ideas here. It is policy made in a vacuum of teacher consultation. I sit on a school BOT of a Decile 7 school, the teachers are motivated by doing the absolute best for their students. They go to extraordinary lengths to help, motivate and improve their kids performance. The school, long before the national standards came into play regularly tested student achievement using STAR and AsTle programmes, reported to parents on achievement and put in place programmes for Children who needed extra help.

    But the bloggers on this forum seem to think because teachers are unionised this is some form of de-motivating construct and all teachers by their union association are somehow less motivated and performing. That is certainly not my experience.

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  23. duggledog (1,558 comments) says:

    Rightandleft – don’t you mean ‘antidotal evidence’ – well that’s what Patrick Walsh called it on Close Up and Morning Report.
    Great malapropism, I laughed my arse off

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  24. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Teachers only belong to a Union because their Union fees are deducted from their pay and sent directly to the Unions.
    Teachers remember do not have a Professional body, only a gaggle of Unions.
    Stop direct deductions and see the result.

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