Salmond on education data

First John Pagani writes a post on national standards I agree with, and now Rob Salmond does a post on assessment data which I also largely agree with.  Rob blogs:

The Los Angeles Times has produced a detailed set of estimates about how much value each teacher in Los Angeles adds to their classroom. That is hugely valuable information. New Zealand’s education establishment should be doing something similar.

I blogged last year on the remarkable data published by the LA Times. It basically measures the effectiveness of individual teachers.

Why should we follow the Times’ lead? Because it helps us to reward great teachers and provide remedial support for teachers in difficulty. And because it allows us to diagnose, early, easily, and with reasonable precision, what is going wrong when a school is performing badly. Is it one or two bad teachers? A bad english department? Poor school-wide leadership? Or is the issue in the community itself, a problem at home rather than in the classroom? The data can answer that crucial question better than a big round of finger-pointing in front of an inspector from ERO.

We can do all kinds of helpful things with this information. If one school has a dysfunctional maths department and there is a great maths teacher at another school, the government can fund the Board of Trustees to pay generous incentives to convince the great teacher to take on the troubled department as HoD. Same thing for giving great teachers powerful incentives to teach at generally underperforming schools.

Absolutely agree.

It is true that there are already multiple ways to assess teachers in New Zealand. There is teacher registration. There are periodic assessments against professional standards. In some situations, there are Teacher’s Council investigations. There is ERO. Those are all good things to have, and this data-driven assessment should be used to extend those assessment regimes, not to replace them. The data based assessment does add real value, however, both as a nationwide diagnostic tool for educators and administrators and as an individual assessment tool for rewarding great teachers and helping others improve.

True. But with teacher unions so against even allowing data on schools to be collated and analysed, I can only imagine how far they would go to stop what Rob proposes.

Who should find out the results? Well, the teachers for a start. They need to know how they are doing. And their local Board of Trustees. And the government folk should know, too. They are collectively charged with improving the educational outcomes for New Zealand’s tragically long “education tail.” Once they know how their teaching resources are distributed, they can better shuffle them around to make the system more effective.

Which is of course what the Government is trying to do with national standards, as well as give parents better information.

Parents should probably get some information about how their kid’s school does compared to other schools with similar student demographics. That is a valuable accountability mechanism for Principals, who get paid good money to be accountable to their local communities. But unfiltered league tables of area schools do more harm than good, presenting an apples to oranges comparison as if it were apples to apples.

The answer to bad league tables is good league tables. Not banning league tables.

Parents should also not get access to individual teacher rankings. Here I disagree with the Times. Why? Because it is little more than a recipe for school administrators to be drowned in a tide of the pushiest, over-caffeinated parents demanding that Little Johnny should move over to that excellent Mrs Paki’s home room. Now! We don’t get to see the latest performance review of the cop that pulled us over, or the nurse in the hospital ward, or the customs agent at the border. And rightly so. Teachers are no different.

I’m okay with parents not seeing results of individual teachers, so long as School Boards and the Government does.

Rob also says in his comments:

Secondary teachers with a BA and a teaching diploma start at $47k and can earn up to $71k at current scales, even without any of the additional salary Units under the control of Boards of Trustees. The top of their base salary scale is more pay than 90% of New Zealand adults recieve, according to IRD data. I think **great teachers** should receive substantially more compensation than this, but I do not think **all teachers** should get a big raise.

Again I agree. I’d love School Boards and Principals to have the ability to have performance pay.

Comments (19)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment