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No to League Tables

by HINERANGI VAIMOSO, From http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/western-leader/7445243/No-to-league-tables at 10:54 09/08/2012 (/h5)

Student’s success at school may be at risk under a plan to introduce national standards, educators fear.

Waikato University professor of education Martin Thrupp is backing the message from West Auckland principals to the Government.

“League tables have not been proven to be effective overseas and it’s simply because you’re not comparing apples with apples,” he says.

The plan will be introduced in September to compare primary and intermediate schools without taking into account students’ socio-economic background, social issues and extra-curricular tuition.

The league tables, which would rank schools using national standards results, have met with some strong opposition.

Edmonton Primary School principal John Carrodus says: “This will unravel the very social fabric that makes New Zealand what it is. It will divide our folk and weaken our nationhood.”

The tables will measure a child’s success in reading, writing and mathematics.

But opponents say other subjects will suffer.

“League tables set up a damaging culture within schools because they’re competing to be the best and they start to turn away students who won’t help enhance their position,” Dr Thrupp says.

He says students who are less likely to improve won’t get so much attention.

“If you’re a D achieving student who has the capability of getting to a C, they’ll work with you. If you’re a consistent A student you won’t get too much attention either because you already help them score well.”

Dr Thrupp says there are many other factors to be considered.

“What people don’t think about are the social issues which is a huge factor and that’s something that’s not going to matter on a league table.”

Dr Thrupp helped organise an open letter signed by principals, teachers and academics outlining their views.

Among the signatories are West Auckland Principals Association chairman Kevin Choromanski of Pomaria Primary. “We are concerned that league tables would harm rather than enhance achievement and have the potential to create a culture of competition among schools and cause long-term damage,” he says.

“Data is still very unreliable and has the potential to mislead the public.”

Mr Choromanski says students new to New Zealand may not meet the national standards but their English and social skills increase through attending school. He says those achievements won’t be recognised.

Mr Carrodus compares the changes to rugby league.

“The wealthy teams will buy in the best players and the duds will sit on the benches where they can’t pull the score down,” he says.

“Nobody wants to play for a losing team so they will either go elsewhere, stop playing or stay where they are in a dying school, because they will be lower decile, an ethnic minority, or not have a choice.”

Education Minister Hekia Parata says league tables are a way of using data in a meaningful way and would ensure schools were accountable for children’s learning.

– © Fairfax NZ News

From http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/western-leader/7445243/No-to-league-tables at 10:54 09/08/2012

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