The main thing to consider with any new initiative is what benefit it will bring – what new or clearer information? Will it improve anything?
It seems that league tables for schools have a lot to prove in that case, as research far and wide tells us they add little to nothing, instead adding pressures and causing a divide where none is needed, and unwittingly encourage schools to become more narrow in their focus, meaning a less rich learning environment for children. It can also lead to schools cherry-picking their children – and what that does for those that are deemed not good enough to get into a school just boggles the mind.
NZEI had this to say:
NZEI Te Riu Roa National President Ian Leckie says he welcomes the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that National Standards information is too “ropey” to give parents accurate information about schools.
“The Government would be wise to act now to stop the release of dodgy data and avoid another education botch up that ultimately will be bad for children and for schools. National Standards league tables will not give a fair and accurate assessment of a school’s performance. It would be irresponsible, knowing this, to release information that could mislead parents and wrongly label schools and their communities as “failing”.
“We would be very happy to talk to the Government about the ways in which the data could be safely used for its original purpose of supporting teaching and learning. But we are not prepared to take part in any face-saving measure that would involve public release of this unreliable data.”
“At the end of the day we are concerned about the impact on our children and their schools. A system that sets primary schools up to compete with each other rather than focuses on ensuring all schools succeed would be disastrous for New Zealand’s quality public education system.
“It is vital we maintain what makes our education system world-leading: schools and teaching professionals working collaboratively and in the best interests of all New Zealand children.”
And here’s a round up of what’s being said out there on the web:
“League tables work well in sports. The way the competition is defined means that ‘games won’ really is the dominant factor in ordering teams, it matters who is at the top, and people don’t try to use the table for inappropriate purposes such as deciding which team to support. For schools and hospitals, not so much.” Read more here
“One of our worst fears the last term of Parliament was that National Standards in primary schools would be turned into League tables by the media. Now it’s about to happen as newspapers have requested the information so they can publish it. There was never a legal way to prevent this happening so the Government should have prevented it by not pretending the assessment model was a national standard. The media will use the information they have and it will be an inaccurate description of the quality of education in any given school.” Read more here
“The Government’s mooted plan to introduce league tables to rank schools is a blunt instrument that would have no impact on educational achievement and could leave parents with a blurred picture says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. League tables, drawn from National Standards, publically rank schools on a few select criteria, but don’t give the full story. Without proper context and moderation some schools may be unfairly labelled as underachieving and parents will be fed misleading information.” Read more here
“National standards data provided by schools is too “ropey” to show parents how well a school is doing in reading, writing and maths and may not be released this year, the Prime Minister says. Data the Ministry of Education had received from schools was “patchy”, making it difficult to create anything coherent for parents and needed more time, John Key said at a post-Cabinet press conference yesterday.” Read more here