Boys do much better at single sex schools

June 19th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Boys in single-sex are performing better than in co-educational and appear to be ditching the sporty stereotype for one where it is “cool to achieve”, an researcher says.

Forty-two per cent of boys-only school leavers between 2010 and 2012 attained University Entrance, 83 per cent at least NCEA Level 2, and 8 per cent gained no qualification.

This compared with 23 per cent of male co-educational school leavers attaining University Entrance, 69 per cent with at least NCEA Level 2, and 17 per cent without any qualification.

But a Canterbury co-educational school principal argues the quality of the school is more important than gender variables.

The research clearly shows that single sex schools do better overall.

Of course an individual co-educational school may do better than a particular single sex school, but 42% gaining UE compared to 23% is a very significant difference.

This makes you wonder why (off memory) successive governments have had a policy that new schools must be co-educational. A while back I read there had been no new single sex boys school for over 25 years.

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65 Responses to “Boys do much better at single sex schools”

  1. redqueen (555 comments) says:

    They’re trying to encourage ‘equality of outcome’, just by stealth and sexism.

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  2. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    But do girls achieve better in single sex schools?

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  3. Harriet (4,848 comments) says:

    I went to a Catholic one in Canterbury.

    He’s obviously right about the quality of school is what matters.

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  4. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Going to a single sex school explains much of Harriet’s obsession with bum sex.

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  5. MPH (18 comments) says:

    “Commissioned to conduct the analysis by the Association of Boys’ Schools of New Zealand”. Well that might tell you something about the results and how they were interpreted.

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  6. Ed Snack (1,848 comments) says:

    Well, as they say, 97.235% of statistics are made up on the spot, but these would be relatively easily checked.

    It is I expect very much harder to align schools with a distinct female favouring slant academically if there are still single sex male schools being created. Socially I’d guess that it is preferable to be co-ed, academically maybe not. The old explanation was ”
    fewer distractions” presumably meaning less sexual interaction, now I’d be inclined to think that it is a matter of educational style. In general males and females seem to learn better in differing environments and the current default co-ed environment is very definitely pro-female, as is the curriculum generally. That tendency can be addressed to a degree in a single sex school.

    However that’s just observation based on my own and my son’s schooling.

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  7. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    DPF:
    The research clearly shows that single sex schools do better overall.

    No, the research clearly shows that single sex schools do better scholastically.

    Which is fine, if you believe school is about stamping out scholastic foot soldiers with good university entrance marks.

    But what if the point of it is to prepare kids for life?

    I went to a Boy’s high school, and although I thrived scholastically in the unnatural, hyper-blokey environment of a boy’s school that allows you to prolong your childhood a little longer, I think if I’d gone to a co-ed school and learned how to be around and talk to girls at a younger age, subsequent things in life might have been easier or even taken a different turn…

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  8. dime (9,849 comments) says:

    “cool to achieve” – lol. always funny when some nerd researcher tells us what the kids think is cool…

    Dime went to Kelston boys. It was ok. Probably made better long term friendships as we werent spending our time fighting over chicks or trying to impress em. There was a girls school up the road and we went to a ton of parties so no biggie.

    I do feel for the socially inept like RRM though! youre getting there though. it took 30 odd years but you finally moved to the right :D

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  9. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    And I think the research only shows that boys did better. It said nothing about girls. Maybe girls do better in a co-ed environment.

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  10. Odakyu-sen (597 comments) says:

    “Which is fine, if you believe school is about stamping out scholastic foot soldiers with good university entrance marks.
    But what if the point of it is to prepare kids for life?”

    “+1″ I think is the comment that writers to UK blogs use in a reply to a comment like this.

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  11. Nigel Kearney (979 comments) says:

    The idea that males and females are different can lead all sorts of politically incorrect conclusions. So I doubt it will be accepted by the people running our education system.

    But I would like to see some real data – controlling for family income not just throwing raw numbers around. And look at how these people manage in the real world after leaving a highly regimented school environment, not just their exam results. Also, the mere belief these schools are better is self-fulfilling. If enough people believe kids learn better in purple socks, a pattern will develop where the purple sock wearing kids are more likely to have parents who care about their success, and those kids will succeed more for that reason alone.

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  12. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    On the other hand, my best mate’s sister told me years later that her 6th form class at Rotorua Girl’s High all got sent for a chlamydia test (I don’t know HOW the hell this was arranged or approved!!) and it turned out the infection rate was 25%.

    She also noted that out of all the girls she started the 3rd form with, by the end of the 7th form the dropped-out-due-to-unplanned-pregnancy rate was 50%.

    So in retrospect I probably wasn’t missing out on anything worth having :-P

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  13. BevanS (1 comment) says:

    In my experience they don’t so well in the early years at varsity. Way too excited by those exotic new creatures in their daily lives.

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  14. SGA (990 comments) says:

    mikenmild at 12:03 pm

    But do girls achieve better in single sex schools?

    It’s been a while since I checked, but I believe both sexes do better. Somewhere there’s a graph from a few years ago looking at decile (x axis) versus NCEA(I think) plotting boys only, girls only, girls at coed, boys at coed

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  15. nasska (11,277 comments) says:

    ….”I went to a Catholic one in Canterbury.”…..

    Who knows how you might have turned out if you’d been given a chance to learn about girls. :)

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  16. Albert_Ross (272 comments) says:

    Mikenmild, I’ve also seen reports that the opposite is true – girls do better in single-sex environments but boys do better in co-eds. The theory was that in a co-ed environment girls act as a civilizing influence on boys which is to the boys’ benefit, but boys tend to take up more of the teachers’ attention and expectation which is to the girls’ disbenefit. Personally I think the co-ed principal quoted above must be right, that the quality of the school is more important – I’d rather send a kid (of either gender) to good co-ed than a bad single-sex

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  17. UrbanNeocolonialist (286 comments) says:

    Think the conclusion is probably pretty weak when you look at the history of our school system in NZ being made up of so many single sex schools established 50-100 years ago that have held onto their elite status in rich suburbs – it’s about the parents not the school.

    Girls seem to force a bit more maturity on Boys behaviour, and probably helps in bringing out competitive behaviour in boys (good thing for academic attainment). But in my experience might be a negative for girls as there is perhaps still a underlying pressure not to be ‘brainy’ (maybe that has changed in last decade). Used to be that girls did better in science and mathematics if in single sex during their early teens.

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  18. SGA (990 comments) says:

    @UrbanNeocolonialist at 12:37 pm
    Not my recollection – you find similar coed – single sex differences within each decile band.

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  19. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    What was the research methodology?

    It appears to me that the many of same sex schools are in fact privately run or in high income areas, and therefore, most of those who attend are from high income families and therefore receive the benefits from their parents economic status which assists in forming good learning practice.

    Whilst these young men may succeed in their educational areas, how do they compete once they are in society, and need to communicate with females on an equal footing, or are they part of the ‘so successful’ that their lack of such skill isn’t a problem because their colleagues, like them, are able to avoid being in an equitable gender environment (like parliament or KB for example).

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  20. UrbanNeocolonialist (286 comments) says:

    SGA: fair enough, I’ll always defer to better informed conclusions.

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  21. SGA (990 comments) says:

    @Judith at 12:41 pm
    Pretty sure you get similar results within decile bands (which, of course, has it’s own effects)

    Added: There are Boys and Girls High Schools scattered throughout the country in all sorts of “decile” areas.

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  22. KathyS (17 comments) says:

    It could be, of course, that high-achieving families are more likely to send their bright kids to “status” single sex schools, which skews the results.

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  23. Huevon (220 comments) says:

    The stats aren’t really that important. I’m sure, as with an social “science” issue, you can find statistics to support either side. The real reason that single sex schools exist is because they were founded by Christians, who believed (note past tense) what Scripture says about “male and female, He created them”. Single sex education was seen as a means to develop authentic masculinity and femininity, as the case may be.

    PS. As for the critics who say the results are skewed by single sex schools being preferred by rich parents…I went to a boys only Catholic school, where a good number excelled in sport, music and academics. Most did not come from rich families.

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  24. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    So coz I went co-ed I never got to be ‘authentically masculine’?

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  25. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Judith (6,659 comments) says:
    June 19th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    What was the research methodology?

    It appears to me that the many SOME of same sex schools are in fact privately run or in high income areas, and therefore, most SOME of those who attend are MAY BE from high income families and therefore receive the benefits from their parents economic status which assists in forming good learning practice.

    Fixed that for you Judith. Do you think you could try to make your prejudices slightly clearer next time? ;-)

    mikenmild (10,092 comments) says:
    June 19th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    So coz I went co-ed I never got to be ‘authentically masculine’?

    If you have to ask, you probably just answered your own question!

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  26. adze (2,105 comments) says:

    What interests me about this is I am old enough to remember similar discussions in the 80s about achievement rates of girls. At that time of course they were not doing as well as boys (the opposite is true now) and I recall at least one study that suggested that girls did better in single sex schools. The fact that girls now routinely do better than boys academically suggests to me that the mix of gender in schools is irrelevant.

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  27. SGA (990 comments) says:

    Ok, this is bit ancient (2002 data), and it’s not what I was trying to find, but best I could do at short notice

    NCEA Pass Rate for Fifth Form Students by School Decile

    Decile, Co-ed Boys, Single Boys, Co-ed Girls, Single Girls
    1 21.4% 41.5% 25.5% 40.4%
    2 27.9% 30.4% 34.9% 57.7%
    3 35.6% 43.1% 41.4% 67.7%
    4 39.7% 49.3% 52.9% 58.1%
    5 46.0% 56.8% 58.6% 63.2%
    6 50.3% 57.6% 60.6% 68.9%
    7 54.7% 59.5% 64.9% 76.6%
    8 59.6% 68.7% 70.8% 75.5%
    9 64.4% 69.3% 75.8% 81.5%
    10 68.8% 80.9% 77.0% 88.5%

    Perhaps things have changed in the last 10 years – I don’t know.

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  28. RightNow (6,986 comments) says:

    Wild speculation, but perhaps there are more male teachers at boys only schools.

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  29. James Stephenson (2,152 comments) says:

    The fact that girls now routinely do better than boys academically suggests to me that the mix of gender in schools is irrelevant.

    The most obvious change in that time has been the move from 100% exam-based assessment to mostly course work.

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  30. kowtow (8,315 comments) says:

    You want a new all boys school ,here ya go

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/306347/muslim-school-go-ahead

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  31. unaha-closp (1,158 comments) says:

    This makes you wonder why (off memory) successive governments have had a policy that new schools must be co-educational. A while back I read there had been no new single sex boys school for over 25 years.

    Because it costs less to build one school rather than 2 (or 3) in any new area.

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  32. J Bloggs (235 comments) says:

    This makes you wonder why (off memory) successive governments have had a policy that new schools must be co-educational.

    Presumably, because its easier and more cost effective to find one block of land and build one big school for everyone, rather than two smaller schools to cater for single gender.

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  33. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “Going to a single sex school explains much of Harriet’s obsession with bum sex.”

    What’s your excuse?

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  34. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    Of course single sex schools are better. The Liberal obsession with “equality” and and it’s silly ideology that gender is nothing more than a social construct drove the co-ed movement. It never had anything to do with quality education.

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  35. Paulus (2,607 comments) says:

    There is a good case to be made for single sex schools for both Girls and Boys.
    This nothing new though – it has been known for many years that better achievements are from single sex schools in the majority of schools.
    It is to do with the quality of teachers to be found in them having no interactive disturbances.
    Boys need in the main into be taught by men not women.
    Women Primary School teachers are the main bane of primary education for Boys.
    They need good role models, as in today’s world they have no fathers around.
    Naturally the lefties and feminists would disagree with my summation, but that is why we have so many social problems, as they believe that only they are right.

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  36. Colville (2,261 comments) says:

    My Son went to Palmy Boys , great school.
    Lots of Male teachers who swear and are rather “robust” with the boys.
    Heaps of social stuff with the local girls High too so no lack of fun stuff after hours but the lads are not getting smelly fingers behind the bike sheds at lunch time!

    To me it just makes sence tho that single sex does better.
    If you could further break it down and have a school for boys of decile 7 to 10 (or decile 1 to 4 say) you could teach to them in a far more focused way that works for that level of skill (or lack of) , they would do better yet again,

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  37. seanmaitland (500 comments) says:

    @RRM: “I went to a Boy’s high school, and although I thrived scholastically in the unnatural, hyper-blokey environment of a boy’s school that allows you to prolong your childhood a little longer, I think if I’d gone to a co-ed school and learned how to be around and talk to girls at a younger age, subsequent things in life might have been easier or even taken a different turn”

    I went to a Catholic Boys school, and I would choose a single-sex school for my sons any day of the week. Being single sex meant that it was a very competitive environment, where education, art, music and sport all thrived. The teenage years are probably the most important years in your development career or sports wise – worrying about social stuff can be done later – I didn’t end up dating girls until I left school, and I didn’t have any problems. It took all of 6 months from leaving school to get amongst it.

    Not having to worry about social stuff also meant I didn’t get exposed to alcohol or drugs until I was 19, by which stage I was smart enough to know that they were to only be partaken in occasionally.

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  38. altiora (261 comments) says:

    @ Judith: the problem is that we have been told over and over about the importance of women role models for girls; yet no on cares that many boys meet no male teachers in their entire schooling.

    All boys’ schools are one of the few places where male teachers are to be found in significant numbers (although I understand this now under threat). I spent primary and intermediate and was only taught by one male teacher. I languished during those years, and in my final year flourished with the male teacher, as did the other boys. Many boys labour under the impression that education is a woman thing, because they rarely meet male teachers. For Pacific Island boys, the absence of male teachers can be hugely detrimental. From teaching Pacific Island boys myself they are often uncomfortable with dealing with women teachers; and they take off and become more active in classes with a male teacher.

    What gets me is the sheer hypocrisy of the feminist movement: they have paid scant regard to the needs of boys in the education system, which is now geared to meet the girls’ needs, with the result boys are falling further behind in the education statistics.

    Young angry men with little education and small employment prospects leads to massive social problems.

    What gets me also is the number of private boys’ schools that have become co-ed; this is a financial decision I would guess but it is amazing how it is considered “progressive”. Yet no one wonders why no private girls’ schools have become co-ed. It seems that arguments about “they need to learn how to deal with members of the opposite sex” are applied only to boys for some reason.

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  39. doggone7 (776 comments) says:

    So with the mantra of “action based on data” Hekia is surely obliged to close down all co-ed schools!

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  40. doggone7 (776 comments) says:

    And of course the associated links to statistics of success rates suggests that the low decile schools should be closed down because of their poor comparison to the high decile schools. Or maybe the teachers in the lower decile schools should be sacked because of the inferior results.
    Is simply bussing the kids from the low decile schools to the high ones the answer, the magic solution?

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  41. SGA (990 comments) says:

    I doubt that there is one reason for the differences between the average NCEA results of co-educational versus single sex schools. It might indeed have something to do with male teachers being better for certain groups of boys, less “distraction” for raging hormones, ability to choose topics or materials that might be more engaging to most boys or most girls, and so on. There could be other things too – perhaps most smaller rural high schools are coeducational and that might make a difference to the statistics (who knows).

    I am curious about the supposed “in-class” benefits of single-sex high school teaching – does anyone know of co-ed schools that have experimented with single-sex classes (I don’t know – say for the “core” subjects in the first two or three years of high school as an example).

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  42. RightNow (6,986 comments) says:

    @doggone7, the evidence clearly points to a strong need for charter schools, national standards, busting the union death grip on education, and gender equity quotas in teaching.

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  43. Lucia Maria (2,306 comments) says:

    I’m not surprised that boys do better in single-sex schools, as I have two boys in a co-ed school (college level, year 9 &12), and we are having issues.

    First of all, I think boys only schools are able to fully teach in a way that helps boys learn, as their learning style is different. It’s interesting talking to my year 12 boy about his teachers – he has a number of male teachers that have made subjects really easy for him, and female teachers that have made them difficult, but has also had female teachers that understand how boys learn and have done their utmost to facilitate that.

    I think NCEA is worse for boys. Constant testing all year for credits is just plain stressful. I’m seeing that in my Year 12 boy who feels he doesn’t have enough time to learn stuff before he is being tested on it. If he was the type of kid that enjoyed working all the time (aka my type of personality and that of many girls) then he’d be fine. But, no, he a last minute, needs the stress of getting an assignment in to get him working, and then there’s too many assignments at once and everything turns to custard. And that is constant. It’s awful to watch as a parent. Far better, in my opinion, to have all that stress at the end for the exam.

    I’m just disgusted by the Mathematics curriculum and testing schedule. The NZ schooling system has taken a homeschooled boy who excelled at Maths (was way beyond his peers at Year 9) and pretty much almost ruined his mathematics ability by Year 12. I’m trying to work out how to pick up the pieces right now.

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  44. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Lucia Maria (2,152 comments) says:
    June 19th, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I totally agree with you. I have students who have experienced failure under the NCEA system, but clearly have talent and intelligence.

    Not only is there differences in how each sex learns, there are also differences between children. An efficient system would identify those differences and address them in such a way that it enables each student to reach their full potential.

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  45. Johnboy (16,059 comments) says:

    Good on you both Lucia/Judith!

    I went to a single sex school till I was 18 and look at what a wonderful chap I have turned into! :)

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  46. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    altiora (114 comments) says:
    June 19th, 2014 at 2:21 pm
    @ Judith: the problem is that we have been told over and over about the importance of women role models for girls; yet no on cares that many boys meet no male teachers in their entire schooling.

    I agree, but would add that the lack of male teachers also effects the females as well. The teachers I learned most from were males, because they were best at the subjects I was taking. Regardless of how much society has changed, men are still seen as authority figures, and therefore, I believe some children take more notice of what they say. It is sad that many males no longer choose to teach due to the danger involved with working in close proximity with unstable children.

    What gets me is the sheer hypocrisy of the feminist movement:

    The feminist movement, in stead of making women equal, has only assisted in making the gaps greater IMO. Wanting equality, does not make one a feminist – it simply means many women want an equal chance, to be selected on a level playing field, winning only if their attributes are the best.

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  47. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Johnboy (14,330 comments) says:
    June 19th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    and look how humble it has made you! :-)

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  48. Johnboy (16,059 comments) says:

    Judith darling. I kiss my arse everytime I get a response from a battler like you! :)

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  49. Johnboy (16,059 comments) says:

    Course if I could get a response from Lucia I would be prepared to kiss something else! :)

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  50. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Johnboy (14,332 comments) says:
    June 19th, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I’m not a battler, I’m a grumpy old bag who due to shyness can’t voice my disgust verbally in a social setting, so choose to rant and rave on here instead. I feel I must do my bit to support battleaxes world wide. :P

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  51. Johnboy (16,059 comments) says:

    Judith darling whenever you feel that the ol’ boy is past his use by just pop down to Wainui and we’ll have lot’s of fun in the old sheep-dip I’ve re-modeled into a Jacuzzi! :)

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  52. Johnboy (16,059 comments) says:

    Lucia could pop down too if she wore her fuck-me boots! :)

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  53. Lucia Maria (2,306 comments) says:

    Judith,

    Thanks for that. :)

    If only there was a way of just taking a test at the end of the year for competency, whether or not the child had done the year properly or not. That would help home-schooled kids as well.

    My year 12 has told me that his media studies teacher has told him that he’s going to have to re-learn how to write after NCEA, when he goes to university, because of what NCEA requires of him. That is just f***ed up, in my opinion.

    Johnboy,

    They are my, “kick whomever where it hurts” boots, if necessary. Just remember that.

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  54. Johnboy (16,059 comments) says:

    Phew Lucia…I’ll strap myself to my electric fence and get all charged up if you promise to get down here to Wainui ASAP and put your boot into me soon! :)

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  55. stigie (1,101 comments) says:

    Dont you give up now JB ? Keep at it and go hard !~

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  56. Johnboy (16,059 comments) says:

    Hell. Minus might be dead! :)

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  57. Johnboy (16,059 comments) says:

    Hell boy’s schools were much better anyway…..None of those weirdo girls to make a chap start to worry about his sexuality when the Art’s Master took him out to the Opera! :)

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  58. doggone7 (776 comments) says:

    Lucia Maria

    How come my kids and their mates didn’t have to relearn how to write when they got to university. And their honours tutors didn’t complain much (as far as I know) about their ability to write. Middle/lower decile, public, co-ed school.

    (Saying “but those kids would have done well wherever they went” would lead to a consequent conclusion that some kids aren’t going to do well wherever they go also. But Hekia and kiwiblog posters say that’s rubbish. If kids don’t do well it’s the fault of the teachers.)

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  59. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (786 comments) says:

    Haven’t got time to read all the comments so sorry if its already been said, but if these stats don’t control for decile then they are useless. Single sex schools are on average high decile. Most of the low decile schools are co-education secondary schools. Single sex schools are usually attended by kids that have parents that take a big interest in their children’s education. ergo – technically this is a self selected sample of kids like to succeed

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  60. Rowan (2,113 comments) says:

    Very low pass rate for boys in co-ed schools, 23% is roughly only one in 4 students achieving UE, this does very much depend on the decile and I would suggest this is for the lowest decile like the shithole that was my first high school (from memory this was a decile 3 and all boys) Most students would have left with not many more qualifications than they arrived with, not sure how much better it has done under NCEA as it has been quite a while. However the “Teflon man” is still the principal there so I don’t see it changing that much! Learning only started for me once I left that institution!

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  61. SGA (990 comments) says:

    Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left at 9:21 pm

    Haven’t got time to read all the comments so sorry if its already been said, but if these stats don’t control for decile then they are useless.

    You still see effects when you control for decile (see comment above @12:53 – you can also look at NZQA NCEA reports for 2009 and 2010 on their website, about page 20 roughly in each case, same pattern in the data but the effect is smaller at higher deciles – the most recent reports don’t seem to present such data)

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  62. Lucia Maria (2,306 comments) says:

    Lucia Maria

    How come my kids and their mates didn’t have to relearn how to write when they got to university. And their honours tutors didn’t complain much (as far as I know) about their ability to write. Middle/lower decile, public, co-ed school.

    I have no idea.

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  63. doggone7 (776 comments) says:

    Lucia Maria

    I inferred from “My year 12 has told me that his media studies teacher has told him that he’s going to have to re-learn how to write after NCEA, when he goes to university, because of what NCEA requires of him…” and other comments about your experiences of NCEA that that system doesn’t work.

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  64. Lucia Maria (2,306 comments) says:

    Doggone7,

    Ok … Have you actually looked at the assignments and seen what is required to pass them? Hint: it’s not writing ability.

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  65. Left Right and Centre (2,971 comments) says:

    The biggest factor that determines educational outcomes is who the parents are.

    Everything else is minor detail by comparison.

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