The Press on education reforms

January 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

editorial:

Prime Minister John Key, in his first big speech of the year, yesterday chose to focus on a subject that has traditionally been a political minefield and one on which the Government has come a cropper in the past. In choosing to unveil some radical new measures, and substantial new spending, with the aim of raising standards and bringing about what he called “a step change in achievement” in schools, Key also went into territory that Labour has regarded itself as having an ascendancy.

But first reaction from teachers, professional bodies and the teacher unions welcoming the proposals – something that must be unique for a National Party policy – indicates that they will likely be accepted and may be smoothly put into practice. They appear to be a serious-minded attempt to to bring about better performance from teachers and schools, one of the most important issues for the performance of the economy and the long-term good of society generally.

Few things could make a bigger difference to inequality than improving the performance of the tail of those in the education system. No amount of law passing or minimum wage hikes is going to make life particularly good for a kid who leaves school unable to read or write.

It is now widely recognised that school achievement is more strongly related to good teaching than to almost any other factor, including, within certain limits, class sizes. Recent studies have also been able to measure the effect of good teaching on the outcomes for pupils’ lives. A good teacher, the studies have shown, makes a measurable impact on pupils’ incomes (according to one American study up to $250,000 over a lifetime) and also produces better, happier citizens.

Recognising this, the changes announced yesterday aim to improve teaching with significant financial incentives and opportunities for the best principals to supervise more schools and improve their results, and for the best teachers to stay longer in the classroom, rather than move on to management, and to pass their skills to their colleagues. Collaboration across schools so the best practices get spread more widely will be encouraged.

One of the reforms will provide for up to 20 so-called “change principals” to earn an additional $50,000 a year for up to five years running schools that are struggling. This idea of trying to attract the best people to such schools to try to turn them around is obviously far better than allowing them to hobble along producing poor results and sometimes eventually falling over and having to be rescued anyway.

Our tolerance for poor results should be low.

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10 Responses to “The Press on education reforms”

  1. holysheet (268 comments) says:

    The sting in the tail will be when the Nats unveil a policy to weed out the under performing teachers (I think it will be unveiled after the election). Every teacher knows who they are. It is a mystery why the good ones tolerate the bad ones.

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  2. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    “A good teacher, the studies have shown, makes a measurable impact on pupils’ incomes (according to one American study up to $250,000 over a lifetime).

    Who’d have thunk that a really good Teech could have given a chap an extra years wages? :)

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  3. kowtow (7,634 comments) says:

    There will always be a bottom 10 odd % and a top 10 odd % with everything in between.

    No amount of govt policy or spending will change that.

    Equality? Why should the bottom 10 % who couldn’t be arsed at school ,who dropped out early etc and are barely qualified to operate a Stop Go sign or have no interest in working be treated “equally” or get the same pay as someone who worked hard and is a tradie getting well paid.

    As already said by more than a few this whole “equality /inequality” thing is a scam.

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  4. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    Oh the humanity kowtow. Think of the bottom lots many sprogs wot are heading off to skool bare-footed and lacking even a continental breakfast!

    For pities sake show your compassion and vote for Metiria! :)

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  5. E. Campbell (89 comments) says:

    The proposals show promise, but I don’t understand how the expert teachers are supposed to keep up student achievement in their own classrooms if they are going to be released two days a week to work in other schools. Won’t their own performance, and those of their students, thus slide? If I knew my son or daughter’s teacher was elevated to ‘expert teacher’ status, I’d first be happy they may have a great teacher (depending on how they are to be appointed). Then I’d be worried as they would only be actually teaching my children three days a week and someone else will be covering for them while away! Also, if the expert teachers are to be held accountable via performance measures as indicated in the latest reportage, how will they able to do this if their actual teaching time for the kids they are primarily responsible for is reduced by 40%?

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  6. gravedodger (1,516 comments) says:

    Yes there will always be a top 10% and a bottom 10% but that does not mean the government is required to accept the current levels of numeracy and literacy that are currently being delivered for that unfortunate bunch left helpless and hopeless at the bottom.
    Once upon a time there were NZR, public works, freezing works, and any number of paid ‘jobs’ to mop up a significant pool of those at that level of academic achievment.
    Sadly in the 21st century it is a very different work environment.

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  7. questlove (242 comments) says:

    Few things could make a bigger difference to inequality than improving the performance of the tail of those in the education system. No amount of law passing or minimum wage hikes is going to make life particularly good for a kid who leaves school unable to read or write.

    Investing in and providing incentives for excellent teachers is great, but this needs to happen along side policy that deals with the primary underlying societal issues which contribute to poor educational outcomes.

    “The disconnect between educational research and policy” – - http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2583337/the-disconnect-between-educational-research-and-policy

    The fact is that outside of school factors account for about 60% of the variation we see in school scores, and inside the school factors account for about 20%. So by trying to fix your decile 1 2 3 schools by working inside the school you are missing the most powerful effect on student achievement which is outside the school.

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  8. Harriet (4,522 comments) says:

    All kids will do much better if real parents are listened to on the matter of education.

    This is what I tell my kids for free.

    ‘…..No one likes working and having to pay tax to the government to spend on lazy dole bludgers, single mums, ‘addicted’ sickness beneficieries ect – or on all the people and services needed to cater to their ‘plight’ – nor do they like seeing the absolute worthless and self destructive lives that they and their children live.

    You will have no worth on this earth other than being a Labour vote if you become uneducated or give up on seeing life as a continual education that requires effort and personal responsability. And lots of it.

    You will be prayed upon by some of [NZ's] most fucken dispicable characters every 3 yrs. People in [Wellington] will say that you are deserving of more money and that your life is most worthy. That is, after they have supported your childs abortion. They will then submit your miserable life to the public arena for ridicule and introspection. Year after year. And people like me will keep seeing you as usful uneducated idiots. And that such a miserable life is fit for no human. Labour do not care about the truth – and the state of your mental health….’

    Labour voting parents can think I’m a fuckwit – but they are parents and should be leading by example – not installing into their children that citizens being lead to a disgusting human auction every 3 years is Godly and Heaven sent. If you really wanted to help them you would not publicly support their right to live lifes of such misery.

    Christian voters in Labour need to have a re-think about what Labour is really saying about human life. And that’s long before you start thinking about the fitness of Labour’s euthanasia plans.

    Labour has the stench of a death culture about it – from abortion – to life shortening deadly ‘lifestyles’ – to euthanasia.

    They are not fit to govern any human nor speak about how children are ‘best educated’.

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  9. deadrightkev (277 comments) says:

    Love your work Harriet

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  10. lolitasbrother (479 comments) says:

    E. Campbell (82 comments) says:
    January 25th, 2014 at 5:25 pm
    The proposals show promise, but I don’t understand how the expert teachers are supposed to keep up student achievement in their own classrooms if they are going to be released two days a week to work in other schools. Won’t their own performance, and those of their students, thus slide? If I knew my son or daughter’s teacher was elevated to ‘expert teacher’ status, I’d first be happy they may have a great teacher (depending on how they are to be appointed). Then I’d be worried as they would only be actually teaching my children three days a week and someone else will be covering for them while away! Also, if the expert teachers are to be held accountable via performance measures as indicated in the latest reportage, how will they able to do this if their actual teaching time for the kids they are primarily responsible for is reduced by 40%?

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