Test kids when they enter school

July 6th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Children whose knowledge isn’t up to scratch when they start school should be tested so the funding they require can be measured, a new report on child poverty says.

Children in poverty “do not leave their daily life circumstances at the school gate”, says John O’Neill, author of the latest report from independent charity The Child Poverty Action Group.

I agree. But considering the primary teachers union is against even national standards, I can’t imagine they’d ever go along with testing all five year olds. But I say it is essential you do know their capacity when they start school.

Teachers could already identify students with learning problems – the challenge was getting the funding to help fix it, Post Primary Teachers’ Association president Angela Roberts said.

“The thing we like about decile funding is that it acknowledges some schools require greater resources than others.”

But taking a step back and reassessing how much it cost to educate a child and then adding in all their other needs would be a better funding system, she said. “Funding is about the needs of a kid, not the location of a school.”

I agree. The decile system is a blunt tool. It would be preferable to individually assess each pupil, and have funding dependent on what their needs are.

Should deciles go?

September 17th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Parents’ misuse of decile ratings has inflamed racial and social class stigma in schools, sparking a call for a major overhaul of the funding system, a new report claims.

The Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) paper, produced for the union’s annual conference next month, outlines several criticisms of the decile system.

It recommends a new model in which each school is funded based on an individual socio-economic profile, rather than a decile number.

That sounds well worth considering. You need a funding formula of some sort, but the deciles have become a simplistic proxy for quality – which they are not.

The different in funding by decile is huge:

The decile funding examples below are based on a secondary school with a roll of 1000.

Decile 1: $979,884.69

Decile 2: $699,354.69

Decile 3: $435,034.69

Decile 4: $266,984.69

Decile 8: $107,354.69

Decile 9: $85,324.69

Decile 10: $52,734.69–

But note that this is only around 13% of their operational funding. However it does mean that a decile 10 school need to fund-raise an additional $920,000 or $920 per pupil to get the same funding as a decile 1 school.

Decile ratings on ERO reports

August 21st, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

The decile rating of schools has been scrapped from Education Review Office reports.

ERO chief review officer Dr Graham Stoop made the surprise announcement yesterday in an effort to “correct the stereotype that a school’s decile equals performance”.

I’ve got no problem with this. The decile rating is still public information for parents who want it – but it is not part of an ERO report as it is not a factor in school quality.

Teacher union the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) said clear information about the social and economic context of schools should be published in place of the decile ratings, which were “crude”.

It suggested including data on student transience, the number of children with special needs or English as a second language and the number of children attending breakfast clubs.

Excellent. As I often say the answer to bad data is good data. Don’t ban or suppress data, but focus on presenting the most meaningful data.