Herald on school data

The Herald editorial:

According to Waikato University education professor Martin Thrupp, schools will use tricks to portray themselves in the best possible light in results that will be published next month. He is probably right. The opportunity for varnishing has been apparent since the Government decided late in the piece to allow schools to set their own goals and measure their pupils against them. That was a major mistake which has resulted in information from primary and intermediate schools that the Education Minister describes as “variable” and the Prime Minister as “ropey”. It is not, however, as Professor Thrupp believes, a reason to withhold the data.

Most parents want their children in schools where they have the best chance of achieving well. Whatever its flaws, the information to be provided on the Government’s Education Counts website will be keenly read and of some use. The site will not rank schools in league-table fashion, but will show achievement data in regions and how individual schools are performing against National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics in each region and nationally.

I’ve said this before – the answer to poor data, is better data – not some sort of totalitarian supression of public information.

Almost all data has flaws. GDP data is often revised in later quarters. Does that mean we should ban GDP data?

GDP is measured slightly differently by other countries. Should of GDP growth be banned?

Opinion polls can have different methodologies. Should all polls be banned?

Unemployment data is based on a survey of 30,000 households and has a some quality issues with it. Let’s ban releasing unemployment data shall we?

NCEA results are not consistent data, due to internal assessment. Some say NCEA data should also be supressed by the state.

I’ve highlighted how some universities rort their PBRF data. But the answer to that was improving the PBRF data, not banning publication of the information.

Let us not treat parents as moronic simpletons who can not be trusted to make decisions about their children’s education. Parents, like all of us, will take the national standards data as one of many inputs into their decision.

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