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Effecting Change, Government Policy, League Tables, National Standards, Protest - Have a Voice, SOSNZ

More Spin – Public Achievement Information

 

Today the Ministry of Education announced it will use a website to release national standards and achievement data from primary and secondary schools.

“…a spokeswoman for the minister said a website and a booklet were part of the plan and emphasised schools would not be compared with each other in league table fashion”(1)

Tui Moment

I’m all for parents being well informed about how their children are doing – in fact it’s absolutely necessary that the students, parents and teacher all share information and know how the student is doing, what their next steps need to be, and where strengths and weaknesses lie.

I just really don’t see how the league tables, oops, I mean Public Achievement Information, will do that.

Most parents are already mighty flustered with the education system’s double speak, getting to grips with personal goal setting, inquiry learning, thinking hats, tidy numbers, and lordie knows what other mysteries we throw at them.  It must seem to them that we are conducting some kind of alchemy or learning another language, at times.   And now they are going to be given a set of data that most will have no idea how to interpret, that the media will twist for a headline or two or six, and that leaves them none the wiser.

Great.

It will not – make sure you realise this – NOT – give any parent any information they didn’t already have about their own child/ren.

What it WILL do, however, is allow people to make comparisons between schools.

“The spokeswoman for the minister said achievement data would not be used by the ministry to compare schools.”(2)

But it doesn’t need to.  The media will do it for them.  And the whole saga will add to the damage we already have due to the decile ratings, where people judge a school’s merit by something they have fundamentally misunderstood.  I only hope that at least someone takes into account where the children were when they entered a school, so that people can get an idea of the value added by that school, rather than just a snapshot of where they are now with no context.  That would be something.

My fear is that this is really just another stick with which to beat schools with lower achieving pupils, without any fundamental help for those schools to change things.  Nothing to change poverty, to help with adult literacy or numeracy, nothing to show parents how to learn with and teach their kids, nothing to help boost training for teachers with weak areas.  No, nothing that would help.

I think those who bring in these policies should take note of something my tutor, Bob, told me at teacher training college:

You can weigh the pig as often as you want, but if you don’t adapt what and how you feed it nothing will change.

(1) (2) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10825362

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