Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: It is your right and duty to vote

464 Responses

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  • Phil Lyth,

    Lucy Telfar Barnard, can I invite you to email me? On the PAS site there is a little envelope on the left, below my name and above 'Reply'

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Main problem for me is that it will label the kids as failures when it is really the system that is failing them.

    Exactly. And there are so many ways to fail these sorts of tests. A standard feature on the reading comprehension test over here is "What was the most interesting part of this story?" occasionally phrased as "What did you learn about x from reading this story?"

    You can fail that question by not being able to read the question, or by not being able to express yourself in writing well, or even by being at a tangent from the rest of the world in what you find interesting. Or, like our poor lad, you could "fail" by taking the question at face value. He used to sit and weep because there was quite literally nothing he could write that would be both true and "correct." Like George Washington, he could not tell a lie.

    A cunning and flexible teacher, using an open-ended assessment apparatus aimed at finding a way for every child to express their knowledge and desire for it, would of course be able to run with this: "What did you want to know more about?" or "What would make this story more interesting?" But standardised tests simply don't have that flexibility. They fail children because they fail children.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1432 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The other thing I'd do is remind any Nact voters you encounter that this is the "ambition" they put into power. Hopefully they might think a bit more before next time.

    Thanks, Sacha. Of course, patronising prickery after the fact is always an endearing and effective mode of campaigning. Try again.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Lucy Telfar Barnard, can I invite you to email me?

    Done.

    Ah, it warms my heart to read other posts on this. Just when I was feeling so alone...

    I do know some Nact voters. I think I like them at least enough to not kick them (apart from the whole example-setting). But of course all the children of the ones I know are in decile 10 schools, so even if I engaged them in discussion on the matter I doubt they'd care particularly much. Though I guess you never know, and it doesn't always help to make assumptions.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 396 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Am I the only person who has very little sympathy for people who complain about being woken by text messages in the early am? Admittedly, the PM needs to be contactable, but...is it really that hard to have one phone for people who absolutely need to be able to ring you at 3am if necessary (e.g. the Deputy PM, your wife) and one for the Andrew Williamses of the world?

    Lucy: Probably not, but why the fuck should John Key (or Metro editor at large Donna Chisholm or anyone else who's been on the receiving end of this kind of crap) have to take ownership of Andy Williams' nocturnal emissions?

    Don't know about you, but I think it's kind of cool that a Mayor can pick up the phone and talk to their local MPs -- even if they also happen to be the Prime Minister. But really... if Andy has trouble sleeping, why doesn't he catch up on some reading with a nice mug of hot cocoa?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    If this is more than ignorant window dressing, what counts are the interventions that come after the measuring.

    Pressure needs to come on the government over the next few months towards their meagre May Budget which is where any of the downstream costs like remedial teaching will either be or not be.

    And nice try, Craig, but I'm quite serious about the gap between what voters were sold and what's being delivered. Deal with it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    However, I do agree it is hardly unreasonable for our PM to leave his phone switched on. Wonder if Helen got baraged by late night lobbying?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And nice try, Craig, but I'm quite serious about the gap between what voters were sold and what's being delivered. Deal with it.

    Sacha: I'm not really interested in dealing with people who didn't bother reading the policy, and just want to throw a very loud and public temper tantrum when they don't get their own way. Deal with that.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I'm not really interested in dealing with people who didn't bother reading the policy

    Ah, so you have, have you? Care to enlighten us about its merits? Feel free to include in your answer an account of why there are no educators in favour of it, including some of the ones that the Ministry itself cites out of context.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Who's throwing tantrums? Education professionals? Voters? Certainly not moi.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    FWIW, I think dedicated people at the ministry are working hard to to avoid the problems encountered by other countries that have gone down the standards path, and may yet succeed.

    But they're essentially trying to add substance to an empty promise that was no more than a political soundbite. Tolley really didn't have a clue about the implications of the policy when she arrived in the job.

    My guess is that the biggest problem with national standards will be the media insisting on using the data to create league tables -- which is precisely the best way to make sure they fail.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    To be fair* to Tolley, what she has actually said is:

    What we are doing here in New Zealand is very different from what is done in the UK and the USA, where a national test is used and where the system is underpinned by high-stakes testing and assessment for accountability. We are doing neither of those things. We made a conscious decision to move away from this and to favour a policy where schools can make choices about the assessment activities, tools, and processes that they use. It is a very different one from the one that is used in the UK and the USA. Therefore, I say to the member that he needs to be very careful that he is actually comparing apples with apples.

    So. Do we actually know details of what is proposed for NZ yet? If so, has anyone who knows what they are talking about analysed it in enough detail to say whether it is different? Or is her statement that it is 'different' just window-dressing?
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    *Yes, this is choking me, thanks for asking.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Part of the problem is not just differences between the policy and what's delivered, but also that we have to vote for a policy package. So people might have voted for National because they felt particularly strongly about one issue (*snore* tax cuts), strongly enough that they were prepared to vote for that even when there were other policies they weren't so keen on, or didn't know enough to have an opinion on.

    For example, when I read the party manifestos, there were a lot of New Zealand First policies that I quite liked, but I would never vote for them even on a cold day in hell because of their anti-(non-white) immigrant platform.

    So it's not always a case of throwing tantrums; it can be an attempt to get the lower-voting-priority policies to match up to your preferred outcomes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 396 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    What we are doing here in New Zealand is very different from what is done in the UK and the USA

    Translation: "We're leaving out the parts that my officials and advisors have told me are stupid and ill-advised."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    My feelings about standardised testing were brought home to me by two pieces of assessment my kid brought home from school last week.

    One was a "report" from his teacher which listed his reading age and maths level without commentary. As far as I can make out, he's well above age level but by less than before. I can't tell if the numbers convey a worrying lack of progress or not.

    The other was a page of narrative from the resource person who has been working with him on writing (something he's a bit reluctant at). Without a single grade or comparison to norms or other kids I can see exactly what he's done, what strategies have helped him and what some logical "next steps" would be.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    The fallacy with Tolley arguing that she has a 'mandate' (her words) to bring in this policy in wake of the election is that I doubt that very many voters were thinking of this particular election promise of last year. Nowhere, on the ballot, is there a proviso that says, " I will vote for you buggers because of this particular election promise" nor " I will vote for you buggers, except for this particular issue".

    Let's hope she has made a big blunder on this one.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2348 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    So. Do we actually know details of what is proposed for NZ yet? If so, has anyone who knows what they are talking about analysed it in enough detail to say whether it is different?

    They are not tying funding to test results, that's the main difference from the American system especially. However, league tables would have a similar and detrimental effect, also in terms of a school's finances. It's less ghoulish a policy, but it doesn't make any more pedagogical sense than its UK and US counterparts and it's hard to see what possible benefit it could have.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Translation: "We're leaving out the parts that my officials and advisors have told me are stupid and ill-advised."

    If she had done that, there would be no policy left. But I agree with the poster who made the point that it's a face-saving issue at this point. She needs to be seen to have implemented the standards in order to remain viable as a politician, but hopefully with as little repercussion on students and teachers as possible.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    We're leaving out the parts that my officials and advisors have told me are stupid and ill-advised

    But is that a bad thing? Or is it that the whole thing is thought to be A Bad Thing by those in the know (i.e. teachers at the sharp end)?

    Edit: I think Gio answered the question before I asked it. Must be nice being An Omniscent Creator.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    So people might have voted for National because they felt particularly strongly about one issue (*snore* tax cuts), strongly enough that they were prepared to vote for that even when there were other policies they weren't so keen on, or didn't know enough to have an opinion on.

    Well, I certainly don't think everyone who voted for the Fifth Labour Government was necessarily terribly hot on every line, sub-clause and comma of their policy -- and there were one or two folks who wouldn't have been terribly upset if Trevor Mallard or Annette King had gotten hit by a bus. But acting as if there was something terribly untoward about the Government implementing their policy is, to put it mildly, somewhat disingenuous.

    Having said that, if teachers want to go through the process and take industrial action, they're perfectly welcome. Don't send your kids to school -- your call, and you can wear the consequences with roughly zero sympathy from me. Give a damn about the Board of Trustees -- can't see anything wrong with that.

    But acting as if some vicious con has been pulled on parents -- please...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    But acting as if some vicious con has been pulled on parents -- please...

    Still eagerly awaiting your factual, informed assessment of the merits of the reform.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    But is that a bad thing? Or is it that the whole thing is thought to be A Bad Thing by those in the know (i.e. teachers at the sharp end)?

    Could schools do a better job of reporting to parents, and could they more uniformly make use of the national performance metrics that are already at their disposal? Sure, I guess, but that's hardly new policy - all it takes is a half page memo and a warning that it will be part of the test (ie the next round of ERO reports).

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I've been interested in what MP Kelvin Davis has been saying about this as he has had years of experience teaching in Northland which is an area of quite low achievement on a national scale (because of various reasons ethnic, socio-economic etc). He is not anti- standards as such but says they are only one tool of dozens that teachers use, and as with reporting in plain English, don't by themselves actually change or improve anything. What does is the quality of teaching and Tolley's plan does not seem to provide anything to encourage good teaching, such as an investment in professional development.

    A quote from Kelvin Davis From Scoop
    “Student learning occurs through excellent teaching. The Minister should be supporting teachers to be the best teachers they can be, which means an investment in their professional knowledge and skills and providing the conditions and resources whereby excellent teachers can weave their magic.'

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2171 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Translation: "We're leaving out the parts that my officials and advisors have told me are stupid and ill-advised."

    I'm not usually so cynical, but I imagine that those are the only bits that will remain to make it into law. Stupid, ill-advised policies don't appear out of thin air, they're created to fulfil the desires of interested parties, practical or ideological.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    One possible source of support for Tolley: parent discontent with incomprehensible school reports.

    I read difficult technical matter for a living, and I had trouble understanding what my daughter's primary school reports were telling me. Goodness knows what other parents made of their kids' reports.

    The combination of levels of achievement and age group bands (with the explanation and keys several pages away from the actual report pages) meant it was very hard to figure out where she sat. Clearly someone had decided to present the information with as much context as possible, but unfortunately they'd supplied so much context that the crucial thing -- is she doing ok for her age? -- was obscured. Only the actual notes from the teacher made any sense.

    So I can imagine a lot of people thinking "yay tests, at last a non-waffly measure."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2977 posts Report Reply

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