Hard data for education

July 14th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

New Zealand’s system has been treading water and its students will lose out in the global race for the best jobs unless change is embraced, a visiting expert warns.

has been dubbed “the world’s schoolmaster” by international media – and he advises a shake-up of New Zealand’s system.

The German scientist and statistician is a pioneer of using hard data to analyse what was traditionally thought of as a “soft” subject, previously dominated by tradition, theories and ideology.

The change in approach helped him become one of the world’s most influential education experts.

It’s depressing that some parties and unions spend so much energy fighting against the Government and parents having some standard data. There is huge power in data. Even more depressing that they are now boycotting a tool that will help improve moderation and consistency.

A parent questionnaire which ran with the PISA test was used to see what factors were most important in terms of test results.

It found that parents showing a consistent interest in a child’s education is the most important factor in raising his or her achievement.

“It is not the hours of homework that you spend with your children, it is not about the degree that you have,” Mr Schleicher says. “It is simple things – when parents ask them every day at the dinner table, ‘How was school? What went well? Did you have any difficulties?”‘

Good advice.

New Zealand must deploy its best teachers to the most challenging classrooms, Mr Schleicher says. Data clearly show the highest performing countries prioritise and target the quality of teaching.

Overseas examples include Shanghai, which topped the 2009 results, where vice-principals at successful schools can only become principals if they show they can turn around one of the lowest-performing schools.

What a great idea.

Mr Schleicher supports data as a way for educators to identify success and failure.

The standards are descriptions of what students should be able to do in reading, writing and mathematics as they progress through levels 1 to 8, the primary and intermediate years.

Their introduction has been controversial, with opponents saying they will lead to “league tables” of schools, and give parents the false impression that a school can be judged by its results alone. “I can see the challenges,” Mr Schleicher says.

“But in the dark all schools look the same, and all students look the same.

“Unless you have some light to illuminate the differences, there is very little you can do about it.”

Absolutely. Some data is better than no data.

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18 Responses to “Hard data for education”

  1. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    When will the union led dinosaurs get with the programme we all ask.

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  2. orewa1 (428 comments) says:

    “New Zealand must deploy its best teachers to the most challenging classrooms, Mr Schleicher says.”

    Good theory. But does he have any idea just how challenging these classrooms are? Most of New Zealand’s problem is societal rather than educational, and even the best of chefs make crap meals if given crap raw materials.

    Asking “how was school” is indeed excellent advice but can you imagine that being a dinner table topic for the large tail of Kiwi “families”? Therein lies the issue.

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  3. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    It’s depressing that some parties and unions spend so much energy fighting against the Government…

    As depressing as having a weak government unable to muscle, overpower and ride roughshod over the Labour-infested unions.

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  4. Bogusnews (450 comments) says:

    What a refreshing article. Gives me the feeling that maybe the tide is changing and our school dinosaurs are sending it.

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  5. AmyRichardson (1 comment) says:

    @Orewa1
    There are always several factors that influence every issue in society. Therefore there are always multiple solutions. A better education system with high quality teachers in challenging classrooms may not fix anything in a child’s home, but a good teacher is as protective factor and turns school into a positive thing in an otherwise pretty crappy life.

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  6. Psycho Milt (2,339 comments) says:

    Mr Schleicher supports National Standards data as a way for educators to identify success and failure.

    He could be right. Maybe the government should start work on implementing some.

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  7. Nukuleka (248 comments) says:

    orewa1: “Most of New Zealand’s problem is societal rather than educational.”

    Every time someone with common sense ideas suggests ways of raising NZ State education out of its mediocre mire the nay sayers poo poo them. School is the sole common experience of all children and therefore it is vital that their experience of school is a positive and a challenging one.

    It is not long ago that a school like Auckland’s Selwyn College was a poor performing school run by liberal no-hoper teachers. Local parents who had the wherewithall bypassed it and sent their kids elsewhere. With the aid of a Ministry of Education Commissioner who has got rid of the dead wood and replaced them with talented teachers the school’s academic achievement and ‘tone’ has been turned around. It is no longer the crap school that it was.

    The Ministry of Education should continue to do the same with all the hopeless schools. Look at the great success of integrated Catholic schools like McCauley High in Otahuhu and De La Salle in Mangere. Low decile schools- high performance! If they can do it so can other State schools.

    It can be done as long as there is a will to do it! Stop making excuses.

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  8. Reid (16,062 comments) says:

    Yes Orewa that occurred to me as well. Chinese [and Japanese] parents highly value education. Almost the only NZ parents who do so are those who received a good one themselves. That’s the conversation we should be having, how to get parents properly into the educational picture. But to do that it has to be a non-political issue, more a cultural one. And there is no chance of that becoming so, because the lefties would be screeching their heads off at the first suggestion that its parents who need to get their act together. The lefties would be saying, “how dare you blame the parents, why they’re victims of [you name it] and how can they possibly ask their kids how school was today when they’re dealing with [you name it], oh the poor darlings, we’ll protect you from the evil conservatives who want to blame you, don’t worry, it’s the system that needs to change.

    Quite ironic really isn’t it since all the lefties who would do that which includes not just politicians but a lot of unionists and teachers, will be doing that very thing they decry to their own children as they come home from school, every single day.

    But that’s precisely what would happen if any attempt were made to change this parental behaviour, which is, quite frankly, socially dysfunctional and downright dangerous for our future well being.

    It can be done as long as there is a will to do it! Stop making excuses.

    He’s not you dipshit he’s pointing out a perfectly obvious and apparent truth. Has it occurred to you to look at the parents of those two integrated schools you mention and compare the behaviour of those parents against those of the same decile? No? Well you’re pretty thick, aren’t you.

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  9. bc (1,344 comments) says:

    Good article indeed. There was a very interesting piece at the end of the article about charter schools that DPF neglects to mention.
    I can only assume that DPF didn’t read the whole article, surely he wouldn’t just select the bits he agrees with and ignore what he doesn’t agree with? (fomenting happy mischief indeed).
    Anyway here it is:

    Overseas evidence suggests the Government shouldn’t bother with its plans for charter – or “partnership” – schools, Mr Schleicher says.

    Mrs Parata will confirm the operators of the first schools, which will be publicly funded but privately operated, by next month, with up to five set to open next year.

    “In New Zealand, once you account for social background, there is no difference between public and private schools. If you do that around the world, there is no difference between charter and public schools,” Mr Schleicher says.

    “In fact, there is typically more variability in quality in charter schools … I really don’t think charter schools are a magic bullet … the bottom line is, there isn’t much measurable advantage.”

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  10. EmmaChisit (18 comments) says:

    Am looking forward to the press release from the various teacher unions who use this guy to say
    See Charter schools are no good!! Stop the experiment
    Needless to say they will have omitted any support of his opinion on National Standards!!!

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  11. bc (1,344 comments) says:

    Yes Emma

    Just like Parata quotes John Hattie but only takes the bits that she likes and ignores what she doesn’t. Hattie also says charter schools have little impact on student achievement.

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  12. Rightandleft (651 comments) says:

    Well the battle against charter schools is coming most strongly from the PPTA, who don’t oppose National Standards. Meanwhile it’s the primary school unions, the NZEI and NZPF which are opposing National Standards. This is why it is silly to just say ‘the teacher unions’ as if they were a single entity when in fact they are often quite divided on issues and even opposed to one another. Also the NZPF is actually a principals union, not a teacher union. Personally I agree with most of what this expert has to say. The only problem is that we can’t easily send top teachers to the struggling schools because our system is already a charter system and each school is free to hire the teachers they like.

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  13. Bill Courtney (155 comments) says:

    For goodness sake, Rightandleft, will you go and read up on the PPTA’s stance on National Standards and stop talking nonsense?
    Here is the link to the position paper and background paper PPTA wrote:
    http://ppta.org.nz/index.php/-issues-in-education/national-standards

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  14. Rightandleft (651 comments) says:

    Well that may be the PPTA’s official position but they haven’t been running and campaigns around NS the way the other unions have. I wasn’t involved in PPTA back in early 2010 when that paper was written. I don’t know who wrote it or voted for it but I haven’t heard anything about PPTA doing anything to work against National Standards since I’ve been a member. I hear constantly about charter schools though.

    I don’t always agree with PPTA positions and I may well bring up this position at a meeting as I think it needs to be changed. I had heard people speak against the lack of moderation for National Standards but that paper lays out a rationale I completely disagree with. I also think PPTA should never have gotten involved in the whole asset sales referendum thing as it has nothing to do with education.

    Nevertheless I stand by my opposition to charter schools. I don’t oppose them just because PPTA does. I’ve looked at the research and the groups wanting to sponsor them here and I think they’ll do more harm than good. At the least they are a waste of resources.

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  15. OneTrack (2,750 comments) says:

    Bc – If charter schools are as bad as you say, why don’t you and your colleagues let National get on with it. When the experiments crash and burn, you can all say ” I told you so”.

    I suspect the reason you don’t do that is that you are more than afraid that they will more than likely succeed.

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  16. itstricky (1,681 comments) says:

    Overseas evidence suggests the Government shouldn’t bother with its plans for charter – or “partnership” – schools, Mr Schleicher says.

    Well, I’ll be damned. Fancy what happens when you actually read the article rather than get spoon fed the cool-ade by the poster. Obviously, however, I’m not surprised that DPF missed reading that bit.

    I suspect the reason you don’t do that is that you are more than afraid that they will more than likely succeed.

    Meh. Sore loser.

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  17. bc (1,344 comments) says:

    One Track, you need to read my post again and get off your high horse.

    I didn’t say that charter schools were bad, just that they don’t do much good either, and there is plenty of research and evidence to support that.
    All the time and money spent getting charter schools underway could be better spent on doing things that actually raise student achievement. Instead National is doing this purely for ideological reasons.

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  18. doggone7 (746 comments) says:

    “Every time someone with common sense ideas suggests ways of raising NZ State education out of its mediocre mire …”

    Every time someone generalises about NZ State education being in a mediocre mire I think they don’t know what they are talking about.

    “School is the sole common experience of all children and therefore it is vital that their experience of school is a positive and a challenging one.” No problem but is the implication that school will be the great protector of the egalitarian dream? Everything in your life is crap but that’s okay because the small portion of your life you were at school was positive and challenging?

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