Friday, February 05, 2010

National Standards 3 - no thanks

Yesterday I received my 'soft soap the standards' letter from Mr Key and it has failed. It has scored a 'not achieved'.

First, National Standards will impose a new regime on schools which are already testing, assessing and providing the results to parents. These schools have presumably chosen those testing procedures the teachers and boards believe are the best for their school. But now they will have to conform to a national scheme. For years some secondary schools and ACT stood against the NCEA because it was a one-size fits all regime. They argued and still do for secondary schools to be able to adopt their own preferences eg Cambridge or Baccalaureate. While National Standards do not constitute an exam system as such, the principle of choice still applies. Each school is unique.

Put in practical terms my letter tells me how the new reports "might look".

As it stands I get more information than this. I am told what my child's reading age is for instance. My child frequently gives me reports herself about what her spelling age is. She is naturally proud of being well above her actual age.

Under National's regime all she will know is that she is somewhere on a scale. This was exactly the problem with NCEA and its demotivating effect on high achievers.

Mr Key says;
"National Standards in education will give you accurate information about how your child and school are doing, so you can make the right decisions for your child."

But I already get better information than the system you are about to impose.

The letter features a photo of a Maori or Pacific boy smiling warmly as he holds a picture book. And that gets full marks. Because he is what this policy is about. It's a misguided attempt to pull up the under-achieving tail. It's not about improving the education of hundreds of thousands of other children.

It is the imposition of change where none is needed. And based on what I see in my letter it may be change for the worse.

So I am angry and the parting salvo from Mr Key only makes me angrier;
"This policy is a critical step along the pathway to achieving [a brighter future for New Zealand]. I hope you and your family make the most of it."

Oh Prime Minister, we are forever in your debt - NOT.


Anonymous said...

But I already get better information than the system you are about to impose.

You don't get comparative information about the performance of your school against other schools.

That is what Tolley is changing - and long after time!

Lindsay Mitchell said...

The latest ERO report;

"Since [2004], increased use has been made of national assessment tools to gather school‑wide data to support annual target setting and guide teaching practice. This information is further analysed in terms of gender and ethnicity, and shows comparison between students at ____School and those at schools of a similar type and decile ranking."

It's there if I want it.

Anonymous said...

It's there if I want it.

It's not on the front page of the paper

It's not used to reward teachers or fire them,
or to reward good schools and close down the losers.

It soon will be.

Shem Banbury said...

Lindsay - I would be interested as to how ERO made that statement about your school. There are no assessments that I know of that all primary schools do so no way to determine how schools are going.

Agree with your remarks on the standards. You probably get better information at the moment from your school. Sadly, all the standards do is tell people where they kids are at. What is needed is resources and money to move kids forward.