NZ Initiative on teacher quality

October 9th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Initiative has released the first of three reports on improving teacher quality. The first one is mainly setting out where we are at, and later reports will look at potential improvements. Some highlighted facts:

NZ is a top-performing system

  • NZ’s 15-year-olds rank among the top performing countries in reading (7th), science (7th) and mathematics (13th)
  • NZ (along with Shanghai and Singapore) has the highest proportion of top readers (one in six)

But the system is not reaching everyone

  • NZ has one of the largest gaps in the world between high- and low-performing students
  • The 2009 PISA study of 15-year-olds showed NZ has one of the widest ranges of reading scores in the OECD
  • Māori and Pasifika students are consistently less successful than Pakeha and Asian students at all three levels of NCEA and they do not perform as well in international tests of achievement

 Teachers are the system’s most valuable asset

  • A meta-analysis of half a million studies found teachers were the most important in-school factor for student achievement
  • Teacher salaries make up 61% of the education budget

NZ has good quality teachers, but we can improve in key areas

  • Our teachers are highly qualified – 86% hold a bachelor’s degree
  • But one-third of year nine mathematics teachers do not have a mathematics qualification
  • 18% of schools say a lack of mathematics teachers hinders the ability to teach the subjectThe quality of teacher education is variable – only 57% of schools are satisfied with the quality of teacher graduates
  • Low expectations of Māori and Pasifika students are partly to blame for low achievement

 We struggle to attract and retain talent

  • Despite the importance of teachers, their status in NZ is low, and has been eroded by top-down changes
  • Teacher morale in secondary schools slipped from 70% in 2009 to 57% in 2012
  • Teacher appraisal is a ‘tick the box’ exercise. It is rarely used as a tool for development and only 5% of teacher goals are related to student outcomes
  • There is a lack of career structure and recognition of excellence. The pay scale sends a signal that teachers have reached their maximum capability after eight years

It’s a good area for focusing on, as teacher quality is almost beyond dispute the most important factor in educational outcomes.

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22 Responses to “NZ Initiative on teacher quality”

  1. Paul Williams (880 comments) says:

    A meta-analysis of half a million studies found teachers were the most important in-school factor for student achievement

    I sincerely hope people reading and commenting on this thread understand the significance of the words “in-school factor” since the out-of-school factors are hugely significant to quality learning. I suspect the report will be available shortly?

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  2. burt (8,316 comments) says:

    What a load of rubbish – we have a teachers union and nothing else matters. Stop all this rubbish looking at outcomes as it’s not in the best interest of union membership numbers.

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  3. All_on_Red (1,645 comments) says:

    “Teacher morale in secondary schools slipped from 70% in 2009 to 57% in 2012″

    Was that caused by National getting in?

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  4. mikenmild (11,742 comments) says:

    Hopefully the New Zealand Initiative will get around to putting the report on its website sometime soon. Meanwhile, it can be found here:
    http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1310/TNZI_World_Class_Ed_Low_res.pdf

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  5. dime (10,109 comments) says:

    “But one-third of year nine mathematics teachers do not have a mathematics qualification”

    Felt the impact of that back in the day. Top class in high school and the math teacher was a PE teacher. great guy but not a maths teacher!

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  6. Ross Miller (1,706 comments) says:

    All_on_Red … probably right, allied to the fact that their pupils performance is measured against national standards.

    Clearly 13% of teachers are unhappy at being found out wanting.

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  7. doggone7 (825 comments) says:

    The New Zealand Initiative says “Every good think tank needs solid foundations. These are ours:
    • Credibility: Our research is based on a sound theoretical framework and is peer-reviewed on a routine basis.
    • Empirical evidence: Our recommendations are supported by empirical, and often international, evidence.
    • Non-partisanship: We engage with political parties from across the political spectrum.
    • Independence: We are an organisation promoting good public policy, not the interests of individual businesses or industries.
    • Commitment to New Zealand: Members and staff of the Initiative share the vision to build a better New Zealand. We believe in a prosperous, free and fair society with a competitive, open and dynamic economy.”

    And then they spend their time, effort and money on reports about teacher quality. They simply could have asked Burt for deeply intellectual, reasoned, dispassionate and researched responses to their core questions!

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  8. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    I sincerely hope people reading and commenting on this thread understand the significance of the words “in-school factor” since the out-of-school factors are hugely significant to quality learning.

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    Teacher morale in secondary schools slipped from 70% in 2009 to 57% in 2012

    Novopay will bear some of the responsibility, but the government gets the lion’s share. It’s spent the period under consideration decrying teacher quality (despite evidence to the contrary), loading them up with additional paper-shuffling, inflicting ideology-based experiments on them and doing its level best to undermine their unions. No morale-boosters in there.

    Low expectations of Māori and Pasifika students are partly to blame for low achievement

    Yep. For a fine example, look no further than the charter schools aimed at them – the ones with an emphasis on kapa haka, sports and the military.

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  9. hane (69 comments) says:

    Schools are for commies.

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  10. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    The 13% drop in teacher morale in three years is a real concern. No employer gets good outcomes from their employees if they are not feeling valued. The government needs to urgently consult with teachers to find out their concerns and seek ways to improve morale.

    An Education Minister who is not that good in her job, and who continues to use a 1 in 5 failing statistic despite it being discredited, can’t be good for morale either!

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  11. mikenmild (11,742 comments) says:

    Perhaps a change of education minister would be an immediate boost to morale and thus have valuable flow on effects for teacher quality. A cheap and easy change to make. Bring back Anne Tolley?

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  12. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Ha ha, Parata must be bad, if people are looking back with fondness for Tolley :)

    (Thanks for the link to the report mikenmild – had a scan through it, interesting reading.)

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  13. peterwn (3,307 comments) says:

    But does qualified mean effective? My late father successfully taught 9 to 11 year mathematics for 20 years following a military career and he was not qualified. He also assisted newly qualified teachers with classroom practicalities such as maintaining discipline – 6he sort of stuff they do not seem to cover in teachers college. At least two of them (both principals in due course) expressed gratitude for this years later.

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  14. mikenmild (11,742 comments) says:

    I’m not sure a maths degree is needed to teach years 9 and 10; maybe so for more senior students. Maybe LESS teachers need to have a specialist degree in their subject(s).

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  15. E. Campbell (91 comments) says:

    I was talking to a retired US middle and high school teacher last week. He told me it was routine in the US for teachers to lack any qualification or background in the actual subjects they ended up teaching in schools.

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  16. Bob R (1,393 comments) says:

    ***Māori and Pasifika students are consistently less successful than Pakeha and Asian students at all three levels of NCEA and they do not perform as well in international tests of achievement***

    Why would they expect groups that have been subject to different selective pressures over thousands of years to have the same distribution of abilities? Are these people Creationists?

    The same thing is seen in the US – you have East Asians who have (along with Ashkenazi jewish students) the highest average IQ scores.

    This is followed by european students, then Hispanics and African Americans. In NZ, you have Maori and Pasifika who score about the same as Hispanic and African Americans.

    Gottfredson, L. S. (2005). Implications of cognitive differences for schooling within diverse societies. Pages 517-554 in C. L. Frisby & C. R. Reynolds (Eds.), Comprehensive Handbook of Multicultural School Psychology. New York: Wiley.

    http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/2005cognitivediversity.pdf

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  17. Paul Williams (880 comments) says:

    Novopay will bear some of the responsibility, but the government gets the lion’s share. It’s spent the period under consideration decrying teacher quality (despite evidence to the contrary), loading them up with additional paper-shuffling, inflicting ideology-based experiments on them and doing its level best to undermine their unions. No morale-boosters in there.

    Yup, never let the facts get in the way of cheap, stupid politics.

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  18. Duxton (657 comments) says:

    “But one-third of year nine mathematics teachers do not have a mathematics qualification”

    You don’t need a Maths major to teach Maths, at least at about Year 10 or below. Maths as a supporting subject would be fine.

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  19. Duxton (657 comments) says:

    milkenmild: “Maybe LESS teachers need to have a specialist degree in their subject(s).”

    Maybe you should have studied either Maths or English. The word is ‘fewer’, not ‘less’. ‘Less’ refers to volume: ‘fewer’ refers to the number of items under discussion.

    eg, I had fewer apples than my friend, so I had less to eat than him.

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  20. Albert_Ross (311 comments) says:

    Sorry Duxton, you are of course right about “fewer ” and “less”, but that was actually “I had less to eat than he did”.

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  21. timmydevo (53 comments) says:

    Can anyone tell me why Year 9 maths teachers need to be qualified in maths? After all, I’d say less that 5% of Year 8 teachers are qualified in maths. The difference between Year 8 and 9 in the curriculum is minimal. I understand that the higher the students goes, the more qualified in maths you need to be… but I don’t think it’s a big deal at this stage.

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  22. Antarg (38 comments) says:

    Could always bring in some Buddhist teachers from Asia. New Zealand could do with a bit more wisdom.

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