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Utter hypocrisy from Simon Bridges on Education

So, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says that school principals must be listened to?  Obviously he has forgotten the disgraceful approach of his party when they drove through the introduction of National Standards.

School principals and teachers were supported by many leading academics in condemning the rushed and flawed process used to develop the Standards in 2009.  The Ministry of Education used external contractors to write the Standards and they worked in secrecy, with no meaningful input from school leaders and teachers.

In November 2009, Four academics wrote an open letter to Anne Tolley  to stress their view that the new system was seriously flawed and would not achieve its intended goals.

But did John Key listen?

Hell no!

Even a 38,000 signature to Parliament did not cause the National Party’s collective ears to twitch, and deafly they drove on to implement a system that the vast majority of primary school educators never supported.

Perhaps Mt Bridges can be allowed some slack, as he was a new boy in 2009?  Maybe he just didn’t pay active attention? After all, the entire National Caucus was hearing impaired that term.

Charter secondary schools under-perform system-level benchmarks

The 2016 School Leavers statistics paint a grim picture for charter school supporters. Figures just released by the Ministry of Education show that only 59.7% of charter school leavers left with NCEA L2 or above in 2016.

This compares to a system-wide figure of 80.3% across all schools within the system in 2016. Looking more closely at specific groups, the system-level result for Decile 3 schools was 74.3% and for Maori students, across all deciles, it was 66.5%.

The School Leavers metric is used as the performance standard in the charter school contracts. Former Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, made her intentions clear when she said:

“There is to be no compromise on the system level benchmarks”.   Source: Hand-written comment from the Minister on a Ministry of Education paper, dated 24 May 2013

The decile 3 system-level result for 2012 had been used as the baseline for the charter schools in their first year, i.e. 66.9% for the 2014 year. The contracts then set out a series of performance standards for subsequent years, culminating in the target of 85% of School Leavers attaining NCEA Level 2 or above by 2017.

[There were no contract performance standards set above NCEA Level 2. The contracts for primary and middle schools are based on performance standards using National Standards for years 1 to 8].

But worryingly, even this poor performance masks a weak set of results overall. There were 124 School Leavers from charter schools in 2016 and this is the breakdown of the highest qualification they left school with:

Below Level 1 – 25 students, 20.2%

Level 1 – 25 students, 20.2%

Level 2 – 45 students, 36.3%

Level 3 – 14 students, 11.3%

University Entrance (UE) – 15 students, 12.1%

Given the hype around charter schools, it is disappointing to see that 20.2% of students left school in 2016 without even attaining NCEA Level 1.

And at the top end, numbers above Level 2 fall away quite markedly.

The proportion of School Leavers attaining NCEA Level 3 or above, for example, was 23.4% compared to 53.9% for the system as a whole. UE attainment is low, with a mere 15 students, or only 12.1% of School Leavers, attaining UE, compared to a system-wide figure of 40.7%.

As we await this year’s Ministry of Education evaluation of the charter schools, we are minded to note Hekia’s comment from 2013. Clearly, the New Zealand model of charter school is currently not achieving at anywhere near the system-level benchmarks that have been set for it.

SOSNZ

Further Resources:

SOSNZ’s 2017 Charter School Secondary School Achievement 2014-2016 report can be viewed here.

SOSNZ’s 2017 Charter School Rolls (2016) Report can be viewed here.

2016 School Leavers’ statistics paint a grim picture for Charter School supporters

Figures just released by the Ministry of Education show that only 59.7% of charter school leavers left with NCEA L2 or above in 2016. (School Leavers Stats.xlsx – Sheet1)

This compares to a system-wide figure of 80.3% across all schools within the system in 2016.

Looking more closely at specific groups, the system-level result for decile 3 schools was 74.3% and for Maori students, across all deciles, it was 66.5%.

The School Leavers metric is used as the performance standard in the charter school contracts. Former Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, made her intentions clear when she said:

“There is to be no compromise on the system level benchmarks”.

(Source: Hand-written comment from the Minister on a Ministry of Education paper, dated 24 May 2013)

The decile 3 system-level result for 2012 had been used as the baseline for the charter schools in their first year, i.e. 66.9% for the 2014 year.  The contracts then set out a series of performance standards for subsequent years,  culminating in the target of 85% of School Leavers attaining NCEA Level 2 or above by 2017. *

Worryingly, even this poor performance masks a weak set of results overall.

There were 124 School Leavers from charter schools in 2016 and this is the breakdown of the highest qualification they left school with:

Qualification       # students    % of total

Below Level 1            25                  20.2%

Level 1                           25                  20.2%

Level 2                         45                  36.3%

Level 3                          14                  11.3%

UE                                  15                  12.1%

Given the hype around charter schools, it is disappointing to see that 20.2% of students left school in 2016 without even attaining NCEA Level 1.

And at the top end, numbers above Level 2 fall away quite markedly:

  • The proportion of School Leavers attaining NCEA Level 3 or above was 23.4% compared to 53.9% for the system as a whole.
  • UE attainment is low, with a mere 15 students, or only 12.1% of School Leavers, attaining University Entrance, compared to a system-wide figure of 40.7%.

As we await this year’s Ministry of Education evaluation of the charter schools, we are minded to note Hekia’s comment from 2013.  Clearly, the New Zealand model of charter school is currently not achieving at anywhere near the system-level benchmarks that have been set for it.

~ Bill Courtney

*  Note: There were no contract performance standards set above NCEA Level 2.  The contracts for primary and middle schools are based on performance standards using National Standards for years 1 to 8.

______________

For more information on charter schools, you may wish to read Charter School Report Card by Shawgi Tell

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

David Seymour’s claim that charter school NCEA achievement is “very high” is utter nonsense

David Seymour ACTDavid Seymour’s claim that charter school NCEA achievement is “very high” is not supported by the Government’s own data.

In fact, all of the first three charter secondary schools seem to have performed below their NCEA Level 2 contract performance standard in 2014.

If Mr Seymour took a look at the charter school contracts, he would see that the performance standard for student achievement against NCEA is set out in Annex A.

It clearly states that the contract standard for “school leavers with NCEA Level 2 or higher” was set at 66.9% for the 2014 academic year for each school.

The government data published on the Education Counts website for each of the charter secondary schools reveals the following for “School Leavers with at least NCEA Level 2” for 2014:

  • Vanguard Military School                                                       21 out of 35         or 60.0%
  • Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa                  5 out of 9            or 55.6%
  • Te Pumanawa o Te Wairua                                                     1 out of 15           or 6.7%

These results compare very unfavourably with the national school leaver figure of 77.1% leaving school with at least NCEA Level 2 or higher (School Leaver stats are published by the Ministry on this site under the Find A School application.)

The problems at the charter school based in Whangaruru have been well documented but the Minister not only let them stay open but gave them even more funding!

Now it looks as if student achievement below contract performance standard is not only going to be swept under the carpet but the Under Secretary will talk it up as being “encouraging”.

– Bill Courtney, SOSNZ

Fact Checker: Hekia and her biased promotion of charter school NCEA results

sosnz fact checker squareHekia Parata has been misleading Parliament again and showing how biased she is in favour of her beloved charter schools.

During Oral Question time in Parliament (2 July 2015) Hekia promoted the NCEA results of one of her charter schools, Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, using the school’s recently released annual report to the public.

The school had been under scrutiny for accumulating a surplus of over $2.5 million in only 15 months of operation.  But that’s another discussion to be looked at in more detail shortly.

Hekia wanted to praise the school but the pass rates she quoted were all “Participation Based” pass rates and not “Roll Based” pass rates.

The difference is known to those who are familiar with the NCEA system and the vagaries of how many credits students are actually enrolled for in any academic year.

A series of articles on NCEA pass rates, including discussions around the possible ability to manipulate the published rates, was published recently through the Fairfax media outlets.

But the important point is that Hekia Parata was quoted clearly in several of these articles as saying that “My emphasis, emphatically, is on roll-based data.”

Roll Based Data?

The article, titled “Tougher NCEA pass rate measure pushed by Minister” and dated 6 July 2015 on stuff.co.nz  went on to say that Education Minister Hekia Parata says she is “absolutely unmovable” on the Government using roll-based NCEA results.

Until, that is, one of her beloved charter schools is involved and the spin doctors take over.

Unfortunately, with the shroud of secrecy that surrounds the charter school initiative and the distinct lack of transparency around these schools, it is difficult to ascertain the truth around the different NCEA pass rates for Paraoa and the other charter secondary schools.

A data request to NZQA, asking for confirmation of the actual numerator and denominator figures used in calculating both the participation and roll based pass rates, was met with a refusal!

NZQA stated the need to protect the privacy of individuals – even to the extent of hiding whole school pass rates.

Instead, NZQA responded by presenting data that was randomly rounded to “Base 3”.  This methodology is used when working with small cohorts and means that any data cell could contain a number between, say 0 and 3, without the user knowing exactly what the actual figure really was.

Subject to this proviso, here is what NZQA supplied for Paraoa and what Hekia quoted in the House:

Yr Level NCEA Level Current Year Numerator (Achieved) Current Denominator

(Roll-based)

Hekia Quoted Pass Rate
11 Level 1 9 12 100%
12 Level 2 6 12 86%
13 Level 3 0 3 100%

So, you see what the problem is: we can only estimate the % pass rate at, say, Level 2, as being 6 out of 12 or 50%.  But because the data has been rounded, the real answer could be quite different.

Interestingly, NZQA also rounds off the denominator, which should be the roll count.  Usually for NCEA purposes, this is the 1 July roll return head count figure.  We know from other data returns that, as at 1 July 2014, the roll return figures were 11, 11 and 3 for Years 11, 12 and 13 respectively.  (Yes, that’s right and highlights again just how small these charter schools really are).

So we can see how the actual rolls of 11 and 11 for years 11 and 12 respectively have both been rounded off to “12” in the achievement data report.

So, who knows?  Maybe the actual current year pass rate was 6 out of 11 Year 12 students, or 54.5%.  But will we ever really know?

Now there’s also a difference here between “current year” and “cumulative” achievement, which you need to be careful about.  And don’t forget the even more significant impact of students accumulating credits in “unit standards” rather than in the more academic “achievement standards”.

But those are for another tale…

Fuller Picture?

Charter schools will no doubt aggressively market their “stunning” academic success, as one high profile charter school did so earlier this year.

Stuff.co.nz again quotes the Minister:

“It’s appropriate and natural that schools will talk about what they do most successfully.  My interest is not that they stop doing that but that there is a fuller picture available that provides good information.”

So, who is going to hold the Minister accountable for being “absolutely unmovable” on this issue, as she said she would be?

And where is the “fuller picture” on charter school achievement information that we are clearly lacking?

~ Bill Courtney, Save Our Schools

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