The Ministry did create a different set of national standards for the use of Maori-medium schools.
They didn't publicise them as much to the electorate though.
I'm still not sure how well they relate to the National Standards especially as they specifically have a standard for oral language, which non-Maori medium don't have to report against.
Because you know, in non-Maori medium schools, we don't value oral language. #facepalm
I would recommend schools just present their data, as they sent it to the Ministry. There was no specified data format required from the Ministry. If there is any journalistic integrity in pursuit of this story - said journalists will have no issue sorting through the data as provided. I'd be interested in what story they actually think will emerge.
I found it sad that now the chase is to provide centrally formatted data so that people can understand what schools are doing. Because National Standards are so plain language, we've now created another acronym to explain the plain language. It's not National Standards - it's Public Achievement Information.
But also remind the media to read the ERO reports, meet with every school in the country to discuss their learning values and principles, analyse variance reports and the rest of their charters. Visit these schools, meet with teachers and students, discuss the compliance costs and pressures. Sit in a classroom for a week, and observe the processes that go on. Explore the expectation on school structures and systems that have changed immensely in the last decade. Expose the "bad ones" if you will - but please pay attention to the whole picture.
Examine the financial and time costs for implementing enterprise grade IT hardware and software into schools in which classroom teaching positions are funded based on numbers of students. The funds for IT support come from internal fund-raising, or fall on a teacher who has to learn another set of skills.
That creates a lot of pressure on a school system to support a delivery infrastructure, that may or may not deliver effective teaching and learning.
None of that can be captured in a headline though - or fits inside a 2 minute TV interview though - so I can't imagine you'll hear those stories from the media anytime soon.
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.
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.
I think the greatest danger to our education sector is the fallout and insinuation from Key's comment: "the data is ropey".
This government won't blame themselves for setting up a vague system of measurement with ironically, no standard unit for measurement. Nor will they blame themselves for explaining no clear purpose for the standards. At various times they've been for identifying student achievement, identifying bad teachers, and now for comparing schools.
This government will blame the education sector, in particular primary schools - and they will be setting up to institute National Testing.
"If you can't make national standards work, we will make you do national testing. We (the taxpayer) need to see results from our educational system."
(OECD and PISA results don't count.)
Which is far more blunt, brutal and pointless than national standards.
None of this conversation, despite the protestations/spin by Key and Parata has anything to do with educational outcomes, or parental expectations, or raising student achievement.
But everything to do with a government seeking to control a sector of the public service that both the left and the right, struggle to manage.
This government will not take the blame - nor will they be around to sort out the mess over the next 5-10 years, if we impose national testing on our education system.
Fairfax has sent out OIA requests to all primary schools - requesting National Standards data.
As a teacher, I'm well aware of the point.
But IMO, National aren't treating only teachers wrong - they're treating public education and learning wrong - that's the point.
The fact that teachers are getting dumped on is a result of that. I'd prefer to focus on how National's policies make for poor educational processes and outcomes, and as a result of that conversation, we can discuss the place and role of teachers in our society.
The backdown on class sizes wasn't driven by people worrying about the fate of teachers. It was a result of parents being told the plain facts about the impact of that policy, ie. "Our school will have 2 less teachers in 2013" and then complaining accordingly. Complaints were driven by their concerns about the impact on their child, not the feeling for their child's teacher. That's how I read it.
As Sacha points out upthread, a more wide-ranging inclusive discussion between parents and teachers is what will make the deepest political impact.
I may have phrased it wrong, and disrespected Yamis and Jackie's opinions in doing so - and for that I apologise.
With no disrespect to Jackie or Yamis - I think the heartfelt plight of the teacher speeches are to some degree irrelevant in this discussion. There are many people in this country who work damn hard, in their professions for the same or less money - and they should be no less valued. By all of us.
The conversation needs to be around what we value in public education. Not just the role of the teachers. The role of assessment, the purpose of measuring, the role and implications of technology, the focus on societal needs. The place of a curriculum that has the capacity to be rich and varied, if those tasked with delivering it - take up the challenge.
We need to be talking to those in political power, and those in our communities, so that they truly understand and value the essence of that curriculum. So that they see the power in the key competencies. That they see and embrace the holistic nature of learning, the value of life-long learning. The need to actively support and value that nature, across our society.
Because being measured to ascertain success or failure isn't learning. We don't stop learning when we fail a drivers license, or don't get a job. Humans learn and learn and learn.
The focus needs to be not on the measures - but on the process. But process is often deep and messy and can't be shared in a headline. So we focus on measures.
We as teachers, need to see and talk of ourselves as learners, as part of the process. Not part of the problem, as they do. Nor the only solution, as some would have us be. But humble, valid, vital parts of the ongoing learning process. That means being honest when we stuff up, and proud when we do well and make a difference.
That is why National Standards and league tables are almost irrelevant - because they are merely bit parts in a process. We need to celebrate the process.
I find the perspective in that Press report interesting. Purely because it represents a strain of the public conversation that's based around a stereotype.
The stereotype being - all teachers are unionised socialists, who work 9-3 and enjoy 12 weeks of paid holiday.
When did that become the dominant part of the discussion?
Historically - when did it become the norm? Or if not the norm, at very least an accepted point of view.
I'm happy to hold the teaching profession to account for their role in the breakdown of the conversation as well. I think teachers should be held to account. For example, I think the opposition to the National Standards introduction was a poorly handled conversation.
I think the discussion around class sizes and the ongoing one around league tables is more about the process/purpose of education. And a more useful and meaningful one. Which is great.
But it's also why I find the position the Press takes in that editorial - a really lazy one. And apart from lazy journalism - I wonder why the position is even explainable or accepted.
What Jackie said.
Pay parity is, in my humble opinion, one of the key aspects of our NZ education system.
It is an active and actual way of valuing all educators for their role in working with students who move through our education system. It is about saying the work that I do, as a Y7&8 teacher, is based on, and only do-able because of the work that a kindergarten or new entrant teacher has done.
There are those who would break this pay parity, because they believe their knowledge and therefore, their instruction is more valuable than mine.
We devalue what we do when we value one learner's ability, or one educator's knowledge over another. We destroy the very value we claim when we attach a cash amount to it.
This doesn't preclude wanting the absolute best for all our students, wherever and whenever they are. Mediocrity should not be tolerated.
Learning is, like Morningside, for life!
On teacher salaries, the NZEI has put together a couple of simple videos to explain the pay scale in NZ.
You can also read the current collective agreements (if you really want). These agreements are coming up for negotiation now.
Much to consider on this issue, not least the over-arching question that is: "What problem is it exactly that all of this government's education policies are trying to fix?"
I'm still not convinced we've got enough of an education issue in our educational system to warrant the absolute overhaul of core parts that Key and co seem to believe is necessary.
Yes - we have bad schools. And yes we have poor teachers. But we do have existing processes to identify/support/assist/remove them from the system.
Does this reform mean these processes are broken?
I also struggle not to grind my teeth, when they tag on to any conversation about education policy that comes out of the govt/the Ministry that the policies are all about "raising achievement for all learners through quality teaching"
It's said as if those in the education sector are actively working to lower achievement and to degrade the quality of teaching.
We know the issues, we sit and work with them every day... just let us do our jobs, instead of making us justify our jobs and roles with increasingly inane and nonsensical amounts of paperwork.
To wit - these league tables that are to be generated by some poor bugger inside the MoE who's sitting through 2500 paper-based charters, trying to align a big pile of words with some sort of quantifiably valid measure - and then turn it into an Excel table.
These tables are we presume based on National Standards data. I'm assuming they are also having to match up with the other set of standards that were developed for Maori-medium schools.
One might almost think the cunning MoE folk, planned this cockup of papershuffling, so they could build and present an online database for collecting data, that all schools must use to input their data - that could be hosted as schools are getting UFB, as part of a benevolent government initiative, that will "raise teaching and learning outcomes" and oh look, here's $400million dollars to build a Network for Learning - that can deliver that database easily to all schools, and we can combine that with e-Asttle to assess all students...
and voila - instant on- always-on-Nationalised Testing.
And we can save money on teacher quality coz any muggins can punch a keypad, and we can save money on teacher quantity, coz we've got a great deal with Microsoft to give everyone a Surface tablet.
cue Pink Floyd.