Improve data, not scrap it

The opponents of national standards seem to have abandoned their stance that parents shouldn’t know if their kids are at the standard expected for their age. Instead they now argue that the Government shouldn’t collect any national standards data because moderation and assessment is not 100% consistent.

Now I’m sure it isn’t 100% consistent. But frankly I’m appalled that their response is to say scrap national standards than improve the data. It’s ideological madness. Think if their secondary counterparts were as bad, as NZEI seem to be. Considering every secondary student undertaking NCEA is largely internally assessed with significant variability between schools, you don’t hear the PPTA calling for NCEA to be scrapped and no data kept on NCEA pass marks for schools.

So next time an  anti national standards zealot goes on about the data being imperfect, ask them what they are doing to improve it, rather than scrap it.

But we see today that they really have no interest in anything that might make the data more consistent. The Herald reported:

The NZ Principals’ Federation, the Educational Institute, the NZ Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools and the Catholic Principals Association have called on school boards, colleagues and the organisations developing the ‘Progress and Consistency Tool’ (PaCT) to stop their involvement, including a trial this year.

So they are saying they won’t even trial a tool that would lead to more consistent data!

They say PaCT amounts to a national test and are concerned about how the data will be used.

That’s ridiculous. A national test is where all kids sit the same test. This is nothing at all like that.

The Ministry of Education has said it will make National Standards data more reliable.

Which is what they claim they want? This exposes that in reality they want no data on their performance.

The tool asks teachers to judge students’ National Standards levels by working through tick-boxes of illustrations representative of achievement outcomes.

The PaCT tool then generates a result for each student.

So how is that a national test?

“This narrow tool will take over teacher judgements and do it for them.”

No, it is a tool to guide the teacher so assessments are more consistent – the EXACT thing they have been claiming is wrong with national standards.

NZEI president Judith Nowotarski said the tool would undermine teacher professionalism, reduce teaching quality for students and cement a reliance on data from National Standards.

“It also opens the floodgates for other initiatives like competitive performance pay for teachers. There is no research evidence to show that when teachers receive performance pay it helps students learn better.”

Good God, their paranoia on performance pay means they will try and sabotage anything that allows an assessment of schools and teachers that are doing well.

A spokesman for the ministry said National Standards were not a national test.

“PaCT is an online, web-based tool which is being designed to help teachers make consistent judgments against the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The tool will support teachers to make overall judgments about a student’s achievement and track progress over time.”

He said an advisory group had been set up to get teachers’ input into its design.

“The feedback received has helped its design and development.”

He said the tool included a framework for describing the steps that students typically take as they develop expertise in reading, writing and mathematics across the curriculum.

” Teachers’ judgments are key to judging a student’s progress and achievement and in PaCT the final decision is made by the teacher.”

So they claim there is not enough consistency with national standards, and when a nifty online tool is developed to help increase consistency – they boycott it on the grounds they don’t want comparable data in case it is used in the future in a way they don’t approve of.

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