I think Christchurch's long obsession with "which school did you go to" suggests that it is a culture New Zealand could easily adopt if the conditions were right, and league tables would certainly fertilise the ground.
On that note, The Press thinks league tables are a great idea. Much of the opposition is, apparently, true but beside the point. Oh, good-oh then /sarcasm
Couple of things from some posts up-line
From the Schagen article:
The standards describe what a student should be able to do at each year level. Those students who aren’t at the standard are identified and provided with the assistance they need to make progress.
One problem with this (actually, two) - school funding has not increased by one single dollar to provide those identified students with assistance. And the government would have you believe that these students aren't being identified at the moment, or aren't being identified in a way that allows comparison between schools. This is wrong as well - PAT tests, 6-year net and other tests already in use are standardised nationally. National Standards isn't about getting everyone to use the same set of standards (because that's already happening), it's about providing that information to central government.
And just a note on zoning from my experience - Rangiora has three primary schools, along with 5 or 6 smaller country schools on its fringes. Every one of these schools has a zone, and only two of them overlap. In our town's case, enforced zones (and at least two of these have been enforced by the Ministry when the schools in question didn't want a zone) are about managing the Ministry's classroom stocks, rather than being about what each individual school wants. Rangiora really should have a fourth primary school (and maybe a second high school) but the Ministry has been "consulting" (read delaying actually having to do anything) for a good 8 years now. So you have the choice of going to your local school, or not going to school.
I'll tell you now who'll be at the top of any league tables - decile 10 schools. Not because they're inherently better, but because their parents may have more interest in their education, both parents aren't probably working 3 jobs between them so can devote time to homework, they'll have a decent internet connection and books to research homework topics, the school itself won't be struggling with kids who haven't had breakfast let alone brought any lunch with them as well, school fees will all be paid on time, resources can be fund-raised for and purchased, teachers can be sent on PD courses without impacting on the school's budget...... I could go on but I get too depressed.
League tables and National Standards are an incredibly blunt instrument that show a snapshot of a period of time, with no reflection of where the kids were when they started and how far they've progressed. Good luck to the Ministry of Education even getting a coherent set of figures out of the information submitted to them from schools as part of their National Standards obligations. I know the school I was chair at just submitted paper-based evidence of assessments and some figures to show numbers above/at/below. There's no way every school would have sent information in the same format or even at the same level, so how are these mythical league tables supposed to be constructed?
As Ian Leckie (NZEI head) pointed out this morning on Morning Report, if you're a concerned parent wanting to decide what school is best for your children, why wouldn't you read ERO reports (I've read lots, they are waffly, but once you get used to the language and style there's a lot of information to be gleaned from them) and go and visit the schools to see how it feels, rather than just basing your decision on a league table in a newspaper?
That's a pretty incoherent stream-of-conciousness rant, sorry, but I kind of had to get it off my chest.....
Thank you for your answer. I get the feeling they may be the Govts. foil to the teacher's union?
They're supposed to be an independent lobby and support group for Boards of Trustees, but as Hilary says above, they're more like an employers organisation than anything else, and also do receive a lot of government funding in the way of training contracts. But their "employer" stance puts them at odds with a lot of Boards who, while they are employers in name, have a lot more in common with the teachers than with the Ministry.
Their "training" around National Standards (or at least the sessions I attended) were not much more than a thinly-veiled ra-ra session on how easy to implement and great to use National Standards were going to be.
Why no howls? Well NZSTA seems firmly in bed with the Minister rather than being the independent voice for parents and Boards that they are meant to be.
I was on the Board of our local school for about 12 years, including 6 as chair, and I was always surprised that NZSTA seemed to take the side of Government in a lot of things, like employment disputes, wage rounds, etc. They don't really independently advocate for Boards and schools nearly as often as they should.
On other topic I had to goog NZSTA, http://www.nzsta.org.nz/ how does their being funded work?
They're funded through an annual levy on schools as far as I know. At least our school paid a membership fee every year. The local office was handy on a couple of occasions when we sought advice on procedures, but the national body seems far too close to the Ministry for my liking.
Most of my online buying is music, although games and books have also featured. If I like music, I want to own the CD / LP, hence I don't do iTunes. I tend to use Amazon a bit, lots of eBay, some MusicStack, but also independent sites, which is where most of the obscure stuff I like comes from. RateYourMusic is a really good site for discographies, related artists, lists, "best of"s, etc - no music, but an active user base and some very knowledgeable people on all sorts of music. I also hang out in a couple of forums for specific music genres.
Locally, Amplifier is really good for keeping track of new stuff, and I've bought quite a few tickets through Under the Radar.
For books, it has to be the Book Depository - I don't actually do much in the way of keeping up with books, apart from reading the reviews in the paper and the Listener. Apparently Good Reads does the same things for books as discogs and rateyourmusic does for music.
Still think this might be the worst:
It has the benefit of being shorter than the original, and it's strangely appealing.....
Surely it would save everyone a lot of time and effort if Inspector Davison would just publish a complete list of the unacceptable music types now.
"Everything except the Feelers"
I went to see Shihad on Friday night. It was in a marquee after the original venue, The Bedford, had noise complaints in its first weekend of activity. It was a really good night, very good show. They started off with a small setup in front of a backdrop to play songs off their early albums (echoing the small clubs and pubs they played in to start off with), then half way through the show the stage went dark, the spotlights all pointed out in to the audience, and Jon Toogood appeared standing on a platform by the sound desk (also coincidentally about 1 metre from where I was standing) to do a song out in the audience while they expanded the stage, shifted all the gear around, raised the drum kit and brought out a whole lot more lighting - reflecting the bigger shows they play now. Then he wandered back up on to stage to finish the concert.
It took a while for the crowd to get in to things, because most of them would have been in nappies when the first few Shihad albums came out (comment by a 20-something I overheard as I was leaving "No one knew the first few songs" pffft if you don't know Derail and Factory you really need to do some learning), but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening.
I'd forgotten how LOUD some bands can play (quite possibly a stupid thing to realise AFTER a Shihad concert)- my ears are suffering a bit today. And it's funny how older minds think alike - there was a whole bunch of us mid-forties to mid-fifties people standing right in front of the sound desk - best sound, best view, and no idiots spilling drinks on you or trying to mosh you.
I'm not sure if it counts as confirming the rumour that they're doing the easy bits first, but there are a LOT of driveways and fences getting replaced out in Rangiora, and a fair number of people getting their houses done too. It just feels wrong for that to be happening.
And every now and again (like today) I get an attack of the "how come we were so little affected by something that has destroyed so much" guilts. Our lives are pretty much carrying on, while others not 20 minutes' drive away have been devastated. And that just feels wrong too.
I drove in to Tuam Street the other day (school stationery run) and went down a street that i didn't recognise - wondered which one it was, the got to Smith's City and realised for the last few blocks I'd been driving down Colombo St and hadn't even known it. That was a bit scary.