Herald on the need to improve education

December 6th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

When bad news is delivered, there is always a temptation to shoot the messenger. Thankfully, that, by and large, has not been the case with this country’s sharp drop in international rankings in an OECD survey that assesses the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old pupils in mathematics, reading and science in 65 countries. In maths, New Zealand dropped from 13th three years ago to 23rd, while in science the fall was from seventh to 18th. In reading, where this country also ranked seventh in 2009, there was a slide to 13th.

To her credit, the Education Minister, Hekia Parata, did not attempt to discredit the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings. She chose instead to depict them as confirmation of the challenge ahead. It fell to think-tank the New Zealand Initiative to underline the rankings’ serious implications. This “Pisa shock” should, it said, be a catalyst to change education for the better. The institute pointed to the example provided by Germany, which in little more than a decade had achieved the sort of improvement that must now be sought by this country.

Hopefully those who resist change will now concede there is a need for change.

Broadly, the Pisa assessment identifies the lifting of teacher quality as the key to such a turnaround. The best-performing countries, it says, put a special emphasis on teacher selection, training, career incentives, and innovative teaching. When deciding where to invest, they prioritise the quality of teachers over classroom sizes.

Crucial.

The importance of excellent teaching comes as no surprise. People have become increasingly aware of this, and are keen to see high-quality teachers acknowledged and rewarded appropriately. Ms Parata has proposed the development of a new teacher appraisal system, a requirement for all trainee teachers to have a postgraduate qualification and, potentially, performance pay. The latest Pisa rankings confirm all would be welcome. It can be no coincidence that in world-leading Shanghai, performance-related pay for teachers is normal.

The time has come for it. Top teachers should be able to earn over $100,000 a year, just for being great teachers.

But implementing their findings on what works will require political will. The teacher unions will resist any change to a national bargaining system that rewards experience rather than excellence. 

The first thing that should go is the national bargaining system. Let each school pay its teachers what they want to. Let them compete for the best teachers!

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26 Responses to “Herald on the need to improve education”

  1. thePeoplesFlag (102 comments) says:

    “…Hopefully those who resist change will now concede there is a need for change….”

    A change of government for sure.

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  2. mpledger (428 comments) says:

    Education has been in constant change forever. It’s time to stop changing and see if the things that have been put in place actually work. Or else we are doomed to repeat the same shallow ideas over and over again because we’re never willing to wait and see what the outcomes are.

    Letting schools compete for teachers is only going to make the richest schools have the greatest ability to afford the best teachers. These are for the kids who have the least need for a great teacher as their home environment provides way more support for their education then their teacher ever could. It’s the poorest schools, the kids whose parents can’t provide enrichment and resources that really need the great teachers but they’ll be the ones who miss out.

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  3. Nookin (2,891 comments) says:

    The president of the PPTA was interviewed about the results on TV3 yesterday morning. She said that she would comment on the results only because the survey was important to the Minister of Education. She then proceeded to decry the survey and gave any number of reasons why the figures are unreliable and meaningless. Essentially, she puts the results (to the extent that they have any meaning) down to a lack of funding and education and societal inequality. I would be a little more convinced if she could justify that by showing the change in circumstances of the students who were interviewed. This would be reasonably easy to glean because I understand that the survey involves the same sets of students interviewed at 3 yearly intervals.

    Regretfully, Ms Roberts focused entirely on political issues and it did not specifically focus on learning in the classroom. Why, however, should anyone be surprised at that.

    I do disagree with DPF in relation to the introduction of merit pay for teachers. I do not disagree that some teachers should be paid more than others. I am of the view that a significant number of boards of trustees are simply incapable of administering what would be a very complex scheme. This is not to say that the idea should be abandoned. There may be other ways of achieving a similar outcome.

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  4. MT_Tinman (2,795 comments) says:

    Let each school pay its teachers what they want to.

    I’d be opposed to this because very quickly you’d see pathetic boards paying communist no-hopers massive wages because “the union said so”.

    Teachers who can prove through independent assessment that the pupils they teach improve beyond the average while under their tutelage should be paid extra, in the form of bonuses.

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  5. WineOh (430 comments) says:

    The blame in my eyes can be squarely laid at the feet of the NCEA program, what a total disaster of dumbing down the teaching system.

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  6. Camryn (549 comments) says:

    @mpledger

    Letting schools compete for teachers is only going to make the richest schools have the greatest ability to afford the best teachers.

    Funding is proportionate to the socio-economic decile of the area the school serves. So the richest schools are those serving the poorest students. They won’t be the ones missing out under competition for teachers. They miss out *now* because would you rather get the same pay for teaching well-fed, eager-to-learn kids or kids who’re poorly fed and who aren’t brought up to see the need for the education you’re trying to impart?

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  7. Rightandleft (574 comments) says:

    I’ve made my arguments against performance pay a number of times. There are several major problems with the idea. In the US performance pay had been strongly driven by the Gates Foundation because Bill Gates made the argument that Microsoft used performance pay and it worked wonders for them so teachers should have it too. Now Microsoft has actually ended its performance pay system because it was discouraging collaboration and stifling innovation and creativity. They also think it cost them many valuable employees. Teaching is a profession that requires a lot of cooperation and making teachers compete against one another will only hurt that.

    The next problem is with assessing it. If we use the value-added method we have a major problem as so much assessment (NCEA and NS) is internally assessed. We would need to bring in very strict and expensive moderation schemes which would create much more paperwork and waste funding. If we leave it to principals we won’t know that the best teachers are actually being rewarded. Most principals are staunch unionists, so how do those of you who hate unions know that they won’t just reward other staunch unionists? I serve on the BOT and I can tell you it would be very difficult for most BOTs to administer such a complex system and most principals have enough to do already without that headache. My principal is a conservative and staunch opponent of the unions but he hates the idea of performance pay as well. He can see all the grievances and conflicts that could come with his administering it.

    Finally the whole editorial is based on faulty logic. The PISA In Focus Report actually found that performance pay had no positive impact on OECD education systems adopting it. The top school system in the US, Massachusetts, doesn’t have it, but many of the lowest performing do.

    According to the long-serving principal of my school the main problem we face is schools not sharing best-practice and resources with each other and the Ministry not taking the lead to rectify this problem. Everyone is re-inventing the wheel. The Ministry needs to take some leadership. I have hopes that Peter Hughes will do just that as he seems a very competent manager.

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  8. Jim (385 comments) says:

    http://www.wired.com/business/2013/10/free-thinkers/

    Ten got math scores that placed them in the 99.99th percentile.

    and

    Juárez Correa [the teacher] himself got almost no recognition, despite the fact that nearly half of his class had performed at a world- class level and that even the lowest performers had markedly improved.

    Goes with the territory. Here we are with a teaching mafia that warns of dire consequences of any and all changes to they way kids are taught.

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  9. doggone7 (494 comments) says:

    The first big change needed is to calm down, read the report, consider the many aspects of it and stop getting hysterical. The Herald carries on the nonsense with its “Pisa shock.” A major chance of progress might be the Herald and others getting off their high political horses and pondering teaching and learning and what the experts say about it.

    A paradox which needs to be resolved is around a ‘good teacher.’ We want our best and brightest, our most creative, our leaders, our visionaries who also see teaching as a vocation, to become teachers. But we also want them to do what we tell them because we will know more and better than them. We will expect them to not be able to think for themselves and instead accept the idiotic stuff we tell them. Like the stuff about performance pay and the realities of sensible implementation.

    A teacher busts her gut in Wainuiomata (no offence) keeping her kids at school until the end of the year while her colleague in Epsom has pupils with a 50% scholarship pass rate. And when told that’s easy to sort out the on-the-street experts chuck out their paint-by-numbers logic about ‘value added.’

    Of course these will be the same experts who will read the headlines about PISA, apply their wisdom and logic to what those say and use things like Herald editorials as The Truth and Full Answer carved in stone and handed down out of the sky. Maybe if they taihoa and read the PISA reports they will have time to calm down.

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  10. lazza (296 comments) says:

    Parata is involved in …. “the development of a new teacher appraisal system, a requirement for all trainee teachers to have a postgraduate qualification and, potentially, performance pay”‘.

    This is it, the NUT! No ifs, buts or bleeding heart Teachers Union BS to the contrary can hide these facts.

    So lets set ourself a 10 YEAR improvement programme, (say no less than top 5 out of 30 on all the PISA rankings) and JUST DO IT just like Germany has recently achieved by focussing on teacher performance/their pay/and their monitored-reported improvement.

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  11. OneTrack (1,979 comments) says:

    ” a requirement for all trainee teachers to have a postgraduate qualification”

    Why is there a requirement for a primary teacher to have a BA (or similar) ? How about a qualification in actual teaching? (yes, like they did in the “old” days)

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  12. Camryn (549 comments) says:

    If individual performance pay is so hard, how about collective performance pay? If we get back into the top 10 in all three areas then all teachers get a bonus. Then we’ll see the unions working hard to get rid of the poor teachers, sharing best practice, being willing to try new school models etc… no?

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  13. Fletch (5,727 comments) says:

    I’m not sure why there is the big hand-wringing in NZ especially about the low standard of education and how our kids are falling behind. It’s a world wide thing. Happening in America, too. We’re not unique.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The results of international achievement tests conducted last year show U.S. students continue to fall further behind their peers in other developed countries.

    The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment results released yesterday show 15-year-olds in U.S. schools have fallen further behind in several subjects since 2009, according to analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics.

    Dow Jones Newswires reports U.S. teenagers “slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading.”

    “U.S. scores have been basically flat since the exams were first given in the early 2000s,” according to the news report. “They hover at the average for countries in the (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) except in math, where American students are behind the curve. Meanwhile, some areas – Poland and Ireland, for example – improved and moved ahead of the U.S.”

    http://eagnews.org/new-statistics-find-u-s-students-are-slipping-even-further-behind-international-peers/

    So, if both the U.S and Kiwis are ‘falling behind’, who is it actually that we’re falling behind? Perhaps children should start being taught the basics again and not this socialized rubbish.

    In the new American curriculum, they want to teach the Gettysburg Address without mention of the Civil War or any context.

    Imagine learning about the Gettysburg Address without a mention of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, or why President Abraham Lincoln had traveled to Pennsylvania to make the speech. That’s the way a Common Core State Standards “exemplar for instruction” — from a company founded by three main Core authors — says it should be taught to ninth and 10th graders.

    Isn’t that crazy?

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  14. Tom Jackson (2,263 comments) says:

    Hilarious.

    You got to pay them all heaps, otherwise you’ll just end up with the same monkeys.

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  15. Tom Jackson (2,263 comments) says:

    The blame in my eyes can be squarely laid at the feet of the NCEA program, what a total disaster of dumbing down the teaching system.

    You don’t get it, do you…

    The old education system was really good at sorting smart kids from thick kids – that’s what it did. If you were rich and had dumb kids, you could get around this by sending them to boarding school. When I was at school, most of the kids who got sent to boarding school were the thickos who needed the extra attention.

    But now people are promised that if they work hard, they can achieve, so we’ve designed our education system to suit that goal. So now it doesn’t matter if you are a retard, because if you work hard or your parents push you hard enough, it is very difficult to fail.

    So now we have lots of people with qualifications that don’t really match their abilities, and a glut of stupid, ambitious people at university who have no business being there, aren’t interested in tertiary education, and just want to buy themselves a diploma as a means to the job they think they have a right to.

    You guys harped on about rewarding achievement and so on. Well, this is the politically acceptable face of doing that.

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  16. MH (558 comments) says:

    until the gender imbalance of teachers is addressed all this is mere rhetoric. More men are required n the profession esp wrt the primary years.
    When mentioning teachers insert “mainly women” before or after.
    Yes ,there are good women teachers,but there are fewer men-fancy some schools having no blokes at all.

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  17. Tom Jackson (2,263 comments) says:

    until the gender imbalance of teachers is addressed all this is mere rhetoric. More men are required n the profession esp wrt the primary years.

    That has nothing to do with it.

    We’re asking the education sector to atone for the rest of society’s sins.

    Nothing wrong with female teachers. I had an incredibly beautiful one in primary school. During my 20s I hoped I’d meet up with her by accident, so I could have hit on her. She would have been about 35 by then, but no doubt still smokin’.

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  18. MH (558 comments) says:

    Societies ills starts with lack of discipline etc,women can’t do everything,kids esp boys from solo mia mums need male role models,when i went to school I had well over 75% of my teachers were male,lots were ex WWII servicemen, experienced in life and they loved taking sport after school,now it’s the 9-3 mob and I”m leaving to have my baby.

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  19. itstricky (1,148 comments) says:

    Let each school pay its teachers what they want to. Let them compete for the best teachers!

    Sweet, let Northland become the pit of the country, rather than just the butt of the jokes as all the teachers worth any salt are poached by Epsom. Great plan – well thought through.

    Funding is proportionate to the socio-economic decile of the area the school serves. So the richest schools are those serving the poorest students…

    …who come the least prepared to learn (hence the additional funding – not for teachers – for resources, specialists and dealing with social problems which I think you will find the teachers of those schools spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with as opposed to their colleagues)

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  20. Harriet (4,010 comments) says:

    National is spineless in regards to the teachers union. They should smash it to pieces.

    Nearly all parents in the country spend WFF payments however they please and both Labour and National have no qualms about this.
    Yet both National and Labour will not give parents a $10k grant to spend as they please on their childrens education! The National Labour Monolith prefers instead to maintain power over all children.

    If parents were given an education grant – that they have already paid for- then NZ would see the level of Freedom and Liberty that we once all had; more than 150yrs ago before NZ’s socialist minded governments started to take control of all children.

    It’s time to smash the Teachers Union and save NZ’s future generations from becoming the collectively minded stupid individuals their parents and grandparents currently are. :cool:

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  21. doggone7 (494 comments) says:

    The failures from the long tail of underachievers of the education system, the illiterate aren’t on here lambasting the system. They probably aren’t up to reading all the stuff.

    So it’s really hard case that the intellectual ones, the ones who succeeded, contribute so much tripe like ” It’s time to smash the Teachers Union and save NZ’s future generations from becoming the collectively minded stupid individuals their parents and grandparents currently are.” How noble to do the Joan of Arc act and save the good citizens from the evil of the teachers’ unions.

    If the educated ones who know so much demonstrate such ability, the failing ones must indeed be hopeless.

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  22. RightNow (6,350 comments) says:

    “If the educated ones who know so much demonstrate such ability, the failing ones must indeed be hopeless.”

    You’re talking about teachers?

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  23. itstricky (1,148 comments) says:

    It’s time to smash the Teachers Union and save NZ’s future generations

    But Harry is just so good at those wide sweeping generalisations.

    I mean he:

    - introduces the plot with a whine about politics.
    - continues the narrative with a rant about unions.
    - has a decent middle that has a rant about WFF and bludgers and
    - finishes with a rant about unions.

    And each paragraph fits so perfectly intertwined with the last.

    It’s classic English story structure. A++

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  24. itstricky (1,148 comments) says:

    “If the educated ones who know so much demonstrate such ability, the failing ones must indeed be hopeless.”

    You’re talking about teachers?

    I think he was talking about this:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/12/nzta_wellington_highways_manager_rod_james_said_the_particular_area_at_el_rancho_fell_under_the_jurisdiction_of_the_takamore_trust_the_site_was_not_identified_by_the_mandated_iwi_as_tapu_they_had_writ.html#comment-1245292

    And he got two thumbs up.

    Sigh.

    What has KB come to?

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  25. CrazyIvan (75 comments) says:

    The issue barely mentioned is that it’s not just NZ that has dropped in the rankings but a slew of Western countries. Finland, one of the best countries in maths three years ago has plummeted down the rankings. And it can’t be about money spent per student when you have countries like Vietnam that spend only a fraction of what we do per student putting in better scores in science than us.

    There has to be a cultural element as well, of parents supporting their children and encouraging learning. When you see that in some areas, ‘poorer’ Asian countries are outperforming us.

    Interesting as well that China only provides scores for schools in Shanghai and not the rest of the country (China isn’t actually listed in the results, only those for Shanghai, Macau and the Hong Kong SAR). Either that’s cheating or because their overall national education system is so backward that they can’t actually get those figures.

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  26. doggone7 (494 comments) says:

    CrazyIvan

    You are right with the last paragraph about China yet suddenly we have the blogosphere experts saying we need to go to China because they’re the world leaders. Those experts-in-their-own minds are some of the ones who regularly complain about the high levels of illiteracy in our school leavers. Maybe they are right, they just get a few years under their belts then make ignorant assertions on things like the PISA tests based on lack of knowledge.

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