Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: And so it begins

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  • DeepRed, in reply to Richard Grevers,

    I hope that if/when they send the information to Mr Hartvelt our BOT add a requirement that he adds a footnote that 15% of the school roll are ORRS students, some with a mental age as low as 3 months, whose scores have been aggregated.

    You forgot the ESOL students as well.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rob Coup,

    If I'm a parent and I have a perfect, accurate and fair understanding of the data, then that is going to lead me to send my (average ability, no special needs, well parented) offspring to the school with the best results.

    That's in their interests. Rational self-interest.

    It isn't in the interests of all the kids with issues, or whose parents don't give a stuff about league tables and just want them out of the house. Or of the struggling schools, who suddenly get more of the problem kids and less of the average to good ones.

    And it isn't in the interest of the community that gets to deal with the kids who went to the sink schools after they leave.

    But no, we must have openness, because that's the ideology and we're sticking to it.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4221 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Richard Aston,

    That looks like a better way to provide a wider range of info on a school that could put the league ( Results) tables in context

    It genuinely is mostly because it enables people to compare like with like. It was not well regarded by teaching unions, however it avoids many of the entirely avoidable risks that appear to have been embraced by Parata and Key. Bizarre.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley,

    I was pretty pissed off when I received the email yesterday (I'm the Board Chair of Liston College in Henderson). But I am a firm believer in open government and the importance of OIA/LGOIMA.

    So while my initial reaction was to give a proverbial digital finger to Fairfax, as a Board Member with legal responsibilities, I can see no justification in not providing a public document when legally requested. School National Standards (being neither national or standardised) returns have normally been provided to the MoE as part of the Board's Annual Report. So to meet this OIA claim we (Liston College) are sending him the section of the Annual Report that has the collated data the MoE required us to include. (and we won't be waiting 20 days)

    Now this means, potentially, 100's of different responses in different formats/reporting structures/media type etc. so Hartevelt/Fairfax are going to have a lot of fun. I suspect though they may focus in on areas where you can compare high and low decile schools with similar catchment areas.

    Like others here, we don't turn away special needs boys - that would absolutely not be in keeping with our special character!

    What is missing from this is MoE statistics for 2011 that show a direct correlation between no achievement by school leavers and decile. The MoE numbers clearly show that the richer your parents are, the more likely you are to achieve at all levels of NCEA. This is the story Fairfax should be focussed on - the effect of poverty on under achievement in education in NZ.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to John Holley,

    Isn't there some analysis from the Chch longitudinal population study that similarly finds the overwhelming influence on student results is parental wealth?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If I'm a parent and I have a perfect, accurate and fair understanding of the data, then that is going to lead me to send my (average ability, no special needs, well parented) offspring to the school with the best results.

    Only if the data in itself tells you anything meaningful about which schools do well at adding educational value to your child and others.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to John Holley,

    What is missing from this is MoE statistics for 2011 that show a direct correlation between no achievement by school leavers and decile. The MoE numbers clearly show that the richer your parents are, the more likely you are to achieve at all levels of NCEA. This is the story Fairfax should be focussed on – the effect of poverty on under achievement in education in NZ.

    I’ve just Tweeted Mr Hartevelt about all this, now just waiting for his response.

    Update: Link to Tweet.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley, in reply to DeepRed,

    I will have to put them online tonight :)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to John Holley,

    so Hartevelt/Fairfax are going to have a lot of fun

    By that you mean that it would be hard work to format the responses into comparable data that can be then used to compare schools in a balanced and measured manner.

    However, they have no such obligation. Their obligation is to the shareholders and that means they have to sell more papers etc.

    It should be fairly easy to create tables that appear to compare schools and tell whatever story suits the headline of the day. I expect sensational headlines highlighting the waste of taxpayers money in school x that performed badly but received y funding ...

    I do not expect proper analysis of the data to help us improve schools that are struggling and/or identify schools that are succeeding beyond expectations so we can learn from them. That of course is the job of the ministry.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3115 posts Report Reply

  • Nathaniel Wilson, in reply to Adrian Humm,

    Fast forward to the brave new world of league tables and charter schools. Multiply our experience by the number of small rural towns with single, medium-sized high schools. I see more problems ahead than opportunities. How about you?

    Doom, doom doom is what I think.

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Has anyone written about the Ministry forwarding the OIA request to boards of trustees instead of answering it themselves?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Coup, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If I’m a parent and I have a perfect, accurate and fair understanding of the data, then that is going to lead me to send my (average ability, no special needs, well parented) offspring to the school with the best results.

    That’s in their interests. Rational self-interest.

    Totally. But a system that relies on people having crappy information and/or being stupid to work doesn't seem like a good thing?

    The education sector keeps saying the schools are more than just the data (and they are!). Pick N schools, read the last two ERO reports for each from cover to cover. *Then* you can probably make a rational decision for your kids.

    When my family moved from Rotorua to Auckland, I chose & went to the multi-cultural low-decile mixing pot of Mt Roskill Grammar precisely because it wasn't an elite stuck-up boys school that Auckland Grammar came across as. I didn't want to do exams years early, I wanted to broaden what I was learning. And my folks supported me entirely. The impact of parents on kids learning is magnitudes more important than teachers, and the smart parents know that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Coup, in reply to Sacha,

    Has anyone written about the Ministry forwarding the OIA request to boards of trustees instead of answering it themselves?

    It's pretty normal (see fyi.org.nz responses for some examples). I think the Ombudsmen/guidelines encourage the agency that is responsible for creating the information to be the ones to provide it... so in this case the schools. I guess MoE didn't provide aggregated data because they don't actually have it... otherwise they're just weaselling out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Coup,

    I guess MoE didn't provide aggregated data because they don't actually have it

    But they've already asked each school to provide the data to them, so surely it's all there in one place even if they haven't 'aggregated' it?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Relevant.

    Also pretty much everything Giovanni Tiso's ever written.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Coup, in reply to Sacha,

    But they’ve already asked each school to provide the data to them, so surely it’s all there in one place even if they haven’t ‘aggregated’ it?

    Ya, but I think "having it" in the form MoE got it from schools means the request should be passed off to them (since they created it). Even though (in this case) it would be several 1000 times easier...

    NZTA wouldn't expect Treasury to respond to an OIA request with an NZTA document - it could lead to nasty surprises for NZTA; and there might be other relevant info that should be included (to help the requester) as well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Coup,

    it would be several 1000 times easier

    Exactly - and NZTA and Treasury really don't have the same accountability relationship as MinEd and school boards do. Hoping someone might be aware of an article somewhere examining the reasoning/implications of the delegation.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    This gave me hope for education today. I went to hear these kids present to parliament’s education and science select committee on 21st century learning environments and digital literacy. It wasn’t lost on the MPs that the kids and their teacher had to work out their own assessment for who would represent the class at the committee. Like computer literacy it is not part of the narrow national standards.

    Stephanie (the first year teacher of this class) also told the committee that in the holidays she had quietly rearranged the classroom – removing the desks and bringing round tables for students who wanted to work in groups and some bean bags for those who wanted to curl up in a quiet corner. And how it had improved their learning. (It made me a little sad thinking of all the kids with ASD and ADHD I’ve heard about recently excluded from schools because teachers and schools aren’t prepared to do such simple adaptations)

    One of the MPs tried to suggest that teachers get 3 months holidays a year but Stephanie dealt with that well too.

    Here’s her blog with today's oral submission. http://traintheteacher.visibli.com/share/NO1mXc

    (Now if we could just get rid of those uniforms.)

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 1902 posts Report Reply

  • paynter, in reply to Rob Coup,

    I guess MoE didn’t provide aggregated data because they don’t actually have it… otherwise they’re just weaselling out.

    Note that the letter refers to a request for “the National Standards data returns from every school”, not for aggregated data.

    Also note that this is “one part of the request” and there is no information in the letter about the Ministry’s response to the rest of the request.

    Gordon

    Since Nov 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    Keep in mind that this national standards not the debate we really want to be having. To my mind at least. They are a terrible thing, because they are skewing and corrupting what we understand and value about learning. And by extension, education.

    The debate should be around what we value and want in our learners. How do we want them to think, relate, understand, manage and participate. All values that are at the core of our NZ Curriculum.

    This current debate is about measuring outcomes and about justifying public expenditure. Which is a fine and useful thing, and allows a politician to stand and say they have done something fine and noble, you know, for the children.

    But all the measuring and justifying actually has little to do with learning. Learning is making connections, struggling with a problem and figuring out how to overcome that problem. Any parent who's watched their child in the five years before they start school will be well aware of all the learning their son or daughter is capable of.

    I can measure how many of my students know the answer to 2+2=4. I can say that 22 out of 25 are "above standard" as a result of that measurement. That measurement can go on a website and be OIA'd and allow you the DomPost reader to make some value judgements about my school, me as a teacher and maybe the state of the nation.

    But the reality is the standards don't measure how 22 of those students made those connections work for them. The standard doesn't measure any of the conversations we had in groups, or the book work they showed me, how they illustrated the problem, or how what questions they asked along the way. Despite the PR spin and label on the tin, that this effort is about improving educational achievement, none of these efforts measure the process of learning.

    And why should they. Learning is the powerful part of human existence, that's constant and reflective and varied and relevant. None of that really rich part of a student's life and existence is measurable, and even if we could measure it - would it matter? I mean really matter?

    Because no OIA is going to tell you how those students are really doing. How they're getting on with classmates, or contributing in class, or stood up to do that really brave thing, they'd never done before. That conversation is one that's shared with parents on a regular basis, if you're an engaged parent, who works hard to form a relationship with your child's teacher.

    And those conversations - those really relevant bits for a child, their parent and their teacher - are not measured by standards, by OIA's, by media, or by politicians. But they are the core of what makes a student a better, more confident learner. They are the bits that matter.

    The thing you, as taxpayers and voters should be concerned about is the length and efforts this government is going to justifying the very existence of these standards.

    Buried deep within the MoE's website is the newly named " Public Achievement Information" page

    Please take the time to read through these, especially the pdf links at the base of the page.

    The timeline is sobering.

    I am afraid, bemused, and at times a little sad - as Russell says, it has begun and I don't believe many in the education profession, or in the public are fully aware of the implications.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to tim kong,

    Brilliant. Thanks.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    What would happen if each school provided, in response to the OIA request, not aggregated data but individual, anonymised data, on paper? So Fairfax would have to redo all the data entry, for each subject, for 50,000 students in each year they decided they were interested in.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • barnaclebarnes, in reply to tim kong,

    But all the measuring and justifying actually has little to do with learning.

    National standards or not, how do we measure that the teaching that you are doing is working? I still haven't seen a satisfactory answer on this. "Just trust us" doesn't cut it.

    As an example:

    Learning is making connections, struggling with a problem and figuring out how to overcome that problem.

    How can we say at the beginning of the year 10 out of 20 students couldn't overcome basic problems but at the end of the year 15 did.? Not only that but the other 5 started at a lower level and progressed further?

    I'm not saying that I agree with National Standards (I do think we shouldn't abandon basic skills like math) but don't we want to know that our teaching methods are working and are improving over time?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 84 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    There seems to be an assumption here that this government is actually interested in facts, when really they are just interested in pandering to the prejudices of a spiteful and vindictive middle class of a country whose political dynamic now more resembles Chile than Sweden. Just this morning we have the remarkable admission from Paula Bennett she doesn't need anything as pussy as evidence to make policy, because Stephen Colbert's "truthiness" does away with the need to actually do any research before imposing draconian new intrusions into the private lives of beneficiaries


    Any decent media would have a field day with a ministerial admission that she doesn't need any evidence to enact a policy, but in this country this spiteful and vindictive woman simply gets away with it, butressed with the editorial blessings of our spiteful and vindictive mainstream media commentariat.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Greville Whittle,

    There are the reports on the ERO website. You can plug a school in and see real data on how kids are improving, what are the schools strengths, what it needs to improve upon, etc.

    I think the both Schools and the Ministry have let people down by not standing up and pointing to this while the idea "If not national standards, then how will we know how our kids are going?" has been pushed. I didn't know about it until our daughter's school really promoted it in their newsletter.

    Hamiltron • Since Oct 2008 • 35 posts Report Reply

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