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Bill Courtney, Charter Schools, Education, Exam and test results, NCEA, Research on Education, SOSNZ

On the Saga of Misinterpreting Student Achievement Performance Standards at NZ Charter Schools

Bill Courtney

Bill Courtney

The purpose of this report, prepared by Bill Courtney of Save Our Schools NZ, is to document several matters relating to the various quantitative measures that have been used to report student achievement in the charter secondary schools, across both 2014 and 2015.

The main observation is that, in respect of 2014 achievement, the performance standard originally set out in the charter school Agreement, the Ministry’s interpretation of this, the achievement reported by the schools and the reported achievement in the Ministry’s publicly available database, Education Counts, are all different! (See Reporting Summary table on p. 2 of full report)

One of the most significant implications of these differences in interpretation is that, on the recommendation of the Ministry, the Minister approved the release of the 1% operational funding retention amount, relating to the 2014 year, for both Vanguard and Paraoa. However, Vanguard did not meet its NCEA L2 Target and Paraoa did not meet either its Level 1 or Level 2 Target.

In July 2016, the Ministry finally acknowledged that there were “issues” related to the current NCEA performance standards as being applied to charter schools. This admission raises serious concerns about the mantra underpinning the charter school approach, which is described as: “Rigorous accountability against clearly agreed objectives.

In a paper to the Minister, it recommended a new set of performance standards be utilised in the Third Round contracts that were signed in August 2016. These will use two new roll-based NCEA pass rate measures along with a clearly stated “School Leaver” measure, calculated in the normal manner.

However, the same paper redacted the sections referring to “Next Steps” that might suggest how the Ministry is going to evaluate the performance of the existing First and Second Round schools on an on-going basis.

At time of writing, the Ministry has published its initial analysis of the schools relating to the 2015 year using what it has described as the “current” interpretation of the performance measures. But it had not yet made any recommendations regarding the 1% retention amounts for 2015.

In order to provide a more comprehensive overview of performance, I have included in the full report data from the Education Counts system-wide data spreadsheets, based on the “School Leavers” metric. These show charter school achievement compared to decile 3 schools and for Maori students.

I have also included an initial analysis of information relating to the “quality” of the NCEA credits being earned by students enrolled at charter schools, based on data provided by NZQA.

Finally, I conclude with some thoughts on the implications of this bizarre outcome in what is supposedly being sold to the country as a “Contracting for Outcomes” arrangement.

You can view the full report here.

~ Save Our Schools NZ

About Save Our Schools NZ

"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." Gandhi


3 thoughts on “On the Saga of Misinterpreting Student Achievement Performance Standards at NZ Charter Schools

  1. This quote “The e-mails in scope cannot be identified without reading through every e-mail in the

    specified date range. This would interfere with the normal operation of the Ministry. I am

    therefore refusing your request…” is a joke.

    In this day in age of computers, it doesn’t take much to write a perl or python script to look for keywords in e-mails to reduce the load considerably – my husband did this a couple of years ago when my mother’s hard drive crashed and she wanted to retrieve some information from her e-mail files. You should be able to provide them with a set of key words to search on (and they should also suggest any words that would be relevant which would be consistent with the intent of the law) and then they should do a key word search on their e-mail files (inbox and outbox and any subfolders). They should review what they find and then give the search program and results to you.

    And how many e-mails are going between the charters and MoE anyway? Even one e-mail a day seems way over the top and that would give 365 emails (per school) to look through – I would guess a two or three hour job at most. Actually, the amount of email the MoE is receiving is worth an OIA in itself because if the MoE are getting so many e-mails that it’s too big a volume to report on then that is a hidden cost of Charter Schools/Partnership Schools. Someone at MoE is supposedly meant to answer them.

    That definitely seems like one to go to the ombudsman about.


    Posted by mjpledger | December 9, 2016, 8:37 am
    • Good point. Remember there were only 3 charter secondary schools operating in 2014 and 4 in 2015, so I would have thought that the amount of correspondence would be quite limited. Also, how much of that correspondence would have been on the topic of interpreting the single most important item in the contract: the student achievement performance standard? I think there is more to uncover as we move forward about how poor the Ministry’s monitoring of these contracts has proven to be. Not to mention the appalling lack of transparency around the non-publication this year of ANY information relating to the 2016 year itself.


      Posted by Bill Courtney | December 9, 2016, 1:34 pm
  2. Yes save our schools from coming a business
    Schools are part of the coummmty


    Posted by Shane | December 9, 2016, 3:23 pm

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