Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: What Hekia Parata actually said

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  • Lilith __,

    Fucking hell.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Fiona,

    I'm impressed he managed to get any sort of story at all out of that waffle.

    Surely, the most telling question is the last one that you posted - Milne is very clear in his question and if she didn't think it was going to be up for grabs as a funding criteria, she could have just said "No".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6 posts Report

  • Jolisa,


    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report

  • Hebe,


    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Dave Guerin,

    It looked to me (from what you quoted) like she was focusing on value add more than, say, exam results. She was also stressing how it was complicated and that there wasn't a simple answer. It looked like she was being quite conceptual and kicking ideas around. That is not a useful thing to do in a media interview, but quite a useful thing for a Minister to do overall. Overall, it seems to me that the media reaction earlier in the week was more about what sort of thoughts people might want to ascribe to the Minister, rather than what she was actually doing. That said, a loose interview gave people lots of ammo.

    Welington • Since Nov 2011 • 7 posts Report

  • Allan Moyle,

    this, <grrr> and the $350M for Change Leaders etc are about the imposition of this approach. The Change Leaders will be assessed on outcomes - not child focused education ones, but education testing & data analysis ones - potentially to come from corporate providers (because the sector cant be trusted). And further this Change Leaders etc group will likely be non-union/partisanally selected to drive in the next part of wedge.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 104 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole,

    It's bloody confusing, I'll give you that. The decile review must happen with the census data having been released, that's a given. It actually surprised me that the Ministry's been stonewalling on answering that question, since it's a mandatory exercise. That they have suggests other mischief going on, to my suspicious mind.

    Overall I'm inclined to agree with Dave, that Parata was demonstrating a great deal of foot-in-mouth by tossing under-developed concepts around in a forum where they're best kept locked in a bottom drawer. She showed recognition and acceptance of the difficulties of measuring educational achievement through assessment metrics alone, but didn't shut down suggestions of student-performance-related funding despite such funding pretty much having to tie to assessment achievement because anything else is too qualitative and woolly to try and quantify precisely and reliably.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Dave Guerin,

    It looked to me (from what you quoted) like she was focusing on value add more than, say, exam results.

    Yeah, but value added has pretty well proven to be a total crock in the US, due to the inherent noise in the data from different students, classes, and years. It's nigh-on impossible to find teachers who consistently "add value" year-on-year to the classes they teach, even in subjects like maths with fairly straightforward assessment (and how would you begin to assess it in, say, PE? Music? Art? In the US, they base "value add" for teachers of those subjects on kids' assessments in maths and English. How can that possibly tell you anything about how effective your PE teacher is?) All these "ideas" she's "kicking around" have been disastrous in the systems they have been applied in. That's why it's so terrifying. See, well, everything Jolisa said in her post.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report

  • Euan Mason,

    Value added is certainly more rational than just stupid league tables based on "national standards" or NCEA. However, you need to ask how progress will be assessed, and also whether it is rational to punish schools that have plenty of kids who are likely to make less progress because they come from poor or dysfunctional homes; homes where parents are on the minimum wage, for instance. At face value, this looks like a massive shift of resources from poor areas to rich areas, and that would really suck.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report

  • Lilith __, in reply to Euan Mason,

    At face value, this looks like a massive shift of resources from poor areas to rich areas, and that would really suck.

    Exactly. And unless Parata actually denies this is the case, I think we can assume it's policy.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    " One of the systems that has been most successful in closing the equity excellence gap are the ones that have strongly incentivised a focus on what difference I have made in my teaching and learning in this 6 month period - not just what's the final result - are these kids above or at the National Standards or have passed NCEA.....but when this kid came into my classroom at this point and now at this point what learning difference can I absolutely see has occurred as a result of my teaching."

    LOUDLY: Testing every 6 months.

    Has she found one or more "incentivising systems"? But..... at least there is an inkling of a small acknowledgement that some kids might progress but still not pass NCEA.

    Nothing like a bit of absolution to distance me from the problem. The testing helps me here.

    So. Did 50%, 80%, 90%, 100% of students "improve"? Someone will clutch at a number and the devil will take the hindmost schools and cut the funding. That's an incentive to teach to the test if ever I saw one.


    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • James W,

    Parata is like a walking cliché regurgitator. I actually groaned out loud when she said she could "unpack" those three dollars.

    I've read it twice and I still don't know what her answer was. Is this how she got so far in her career? No one understands her so they assume she must know what she's talking about?

    Since Jul 2008 • 136 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    Reading the transcript, one can't help but get the impression that this minister is completely out of her depth.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • geoff wood,

    So schools that are struggling, usually because of the socio-economic background of their pupils and often also run-down facilities, have their goalposts moved even further away by having their funds cut ?!!!! That's good because the saved money can then be splurged on her pet charter schools that have no accountability at all it seems.

    Porirua • Since Apr 2009 • 2 posts Report

  • Chris Waugh,

    The mention of Shanghai worries me. I dunno, I've never been to Shanghai, and I've taught students from every municipality, province and autonomous region of China but Shanghai, but I find it hard to believe it somehow magically has vastly more autonomy than the rest of the Mainland in such matters. And education is one of the prime reasons we're moving back to NZ*. So, um, thanks, National, for doing your best to close the educational gap between NZ and China.... not. Because for all the talk over all these years of reforming China's education system, and the final appearance of actual reforms of the dreaded Gao Kao (university entrance), it's still very much a system based on passing exams and collecting up magic pieces of paper. And it's still really depressing just how many of my students start university desperately lacking in really basic life skills and with no idea how to use the knowledge that's been stuffed into them (for the sole purpose of being regurgitated onto an exam paper, naturally) in the real world.

    Now, having ranted that, I am going to spend the early afternoon watching my students play a basketball match in a team they organised themselves to the point of designing and having made some pretty cool-looking uniforms, and the captain/coach/inspiration behind the team is a highly talented, motivated, ambitious 4th year student who is Going Places. And this team has such a history of kicking arse that more than one opposing team has simply not bothered to show up to the match, even sent a message conceding the game through another team. So the Chinese system is certainly not the worst in the world. But it does put an insane amount of pressure on students from a very young age, and apart from a few test scores, the results of all that pressure and massive workload are depressingly underwhelming.

    Surely if we're going to be looking overseas for models of good education, we should be looking to Finland?

    *one step closer to making the move! And it's the kind of step that allows us to start planning the move instead of just daydreaming about it. So if anybody has a job for me to do starting maybe July or August, no later than January (inshallah), one that pays adequately (although megabucks would be nice), please let me know.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Reading the transcript, one can’t help but get the impression that this minister is completely out of her depth.

    She'd be out of her depth as member for a local ward in Waikikamukau District Council. As a minister of one of the highest-spending portfolios in the country, she's a disaster. It was like reading a stream of consciousness.

    I actually don't get the fully-fledged evil intent out of the interview that has been ascribed, but there are some shadows lurking in corners that the current National government's history make me want to examine very, very closely.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

  • Lilith __, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    one can’t help but get the impression that this minister is completely out of her depth

    Or obfuscating. I think parents and teachers in Chch would agree with that. Parata acts ruthlessly while speaking vaguely.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Fiona, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Not just testing, which has always happened in schools to measure progress, but standardised national testing at various stages younger than 15/16.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Reading the transcript, one can’t help but get the impression that this minister is completely out of her depth.

    And if it’s not incompetence on Parata’s part, then it’s cold, calculating Social Darwinism.

    To follow Parata's threats to their logical extreme:

    * Schools with low deciles and high numbers of disabled and special needs students get defunded and boarded up.
    * High decile schools will invoke their powers to say, 'there's not even a place for you in the drongo class'.
    * Charter schools scoop up the rejects, and the rejects of the rejects have high dropout and expulsion rates, leaving them with few or no other places to go.
    * Parents of disabled kids take the Minister and the MoE all the way to the Supreme Court, on the grounds of discrimination.
    * Teachers quit the public school system en masse, leaving unfilled shortages.
    * The education system becomes even more polarised. The private school sector has a field day.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Andre,

    Unfortunately, judging by recent landline-based poll results that still don't include "undecided" voter percentages, the public don't really care if the government is lying to them. Or selling us out to their rich privatisation-advocate mates piece by small piece. You could prove over-and-over again that the entire cabinet is full of corrupt liars with besmirched records, as I think it was Duncan Garner on Radio Live doing so the other day by rattling off every cabinet minister and the mud that has stuck to them, but unfortunately as long as 65% of kiwis own homes and will vote according to their projected mortgage rate, National is still winning at the polls.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 371 posts Report

  • Jolisa, in reply to Ross Mason,

    "what difference I have made in my teaching and learning in this 6 month period"

    LOUDLY: Testing every 6 months.


    Because, if you're linking school funding and teacher salary - the big bucks - to this notion of progress, are you really going to just take a teacher's word for it that the kids are doing well? Nup; you're going to prefer a magically "neutral" instrument like a test.

    Except those tests aren't neutral.

    If they're anything like the ones we saw in the US, they'll be buggy, stupid, repetitive, and -- in order to be efficiently administered and graded - they'll reduce the curriculum to a series of tricks to be learned. All ambiguity and creativity goes by the board.

    Kids will be trained not just to take the tests, but the language and grammar of the tests will leak out into every other aspect of the classroom, as detailed in my original post "Testing, testing".

    Meanwhile, the businesses of test-design and test-preparation will boom. As will tutoring - both for kids struggling with the testable curriculum, and for parents who can afford to supplement their children with extra-curricular fun outside of school hours.

    Schools whose children can't be drilled or cheated into passing the tests at the acceptable rate will - as in the US and the UK - be branded as "failures" and passed into the eager hands of charter chains, who can swing into action (as we've seen) at weeks' notice, especially now that legislation has smoothed the way.

    Remember, these partnership schools are not subject to OIA or Ombudsman oversight; nor are they required to have any parental or community representation in their governance. Guess why.

    Money -- taxpayer money, community money, our patrimony and our collective fund for the future of our population, as well as money spent by individual parents -- thus spills out of the classroom and into the hands of whoever is connected -- sorry, prescient -- enough to be standing there with a massive bucket.

    Over in the other thread, we've gotten to talking about "trickle-down economics" vs "rising tides." If we're doing hydrological metaphors, I reckon it's time to focus on the FUCKING ENORMOUS FUNNELS.

    As Thomas Frank points out in this piece on Salon, increasing "inequality" is no accident. It's a direct, deliberate, cynical, self-serving result of policy designed to transfer money out of the hands of those most in need.

    And small, persuasive-at-first-glance policies like "testing for added value in the classroom" are just another part of that giant machine.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Andre,

    as long as 65% of kiwis own homes

    Down below 50% for the first time in recorded history, actually. Non-owners are now the majority.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

  • WaterDragon,

    Interview notes substantively agree with the proposition.

    Behind you • Since Jul 2011 • 79 posts Report

  • Martin Connelly,

    After reading this, a couple of things occur to me. Firstly, the Minister was quoted as saying she would favour "performance pay for schools", but actually those words were put in her mouth. Secondly, she seems to be saying that the system currently funds a whole lot of things that people broadly agree do not encourage better learning and she is responding by saying that she would be interested in looking for ways to get the money to the things that do assist student learning. (Which might be better teachers, new types of technology, she does not elaborate). And ""yes" we need some sort of testing to know whether students are learning or not and "no" she does not explain herself at all well.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2012 • 28 posts Report

  • Martin Connelly, in reply to Dave Guerin,

    And I agree with everything said here.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2012 • 28 posts Report

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