This tag is associated with 5 posts

Diane Ravitch’s View of PISA Scores

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch notes:

In my recent book, Reign of Error, I quote extensively from a brilliant article by Keith Baker, called “Are International Tests Worth Anything?,” which was published by Phi Delta Kappan in October 2007. Baker, who worked for many years as a researcher at the U.S. Department of Education, had the ingenious idea to investigate what happened to the 12 nations that took the First International Mathematics test in 1964.

He looked at the per capita gross domestic product of those nations and found that “the higher a nation’s test score 40 years ago, the worse its economic performance on this measure of national wealth–the opposite of what the Chicken Littles raising the alarm over the poor test scores of U.S. children claimed would happen.”

He found no relationship between a nation’s economic productivity and its test scores.

Nor did the test scores bear any relationship to quality of life or democratic institutions.

Read the rest here: My View of the PISA Scores.

via My View of the PISA Scores.



Latest OECD findings point to major failure of government education policies

Picture 1The big drop in New Zealand’s student achievement in recent years is a direct result of a failure of this government’s education, economic and social policies, says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President Judith Nowotarski.

Mrs  Nowotarski says the results  are a clear wake up call to the government.

She says the Minister of Education has overseen one of the biggest drops in our student ranking in recent years.

The OECD PISA results, measuring 15 year old student achievement in science, maths and reading, shows that since 2008 New Zealand has had one of the fastest-growing rates of inequity as well as a corresponding decrease in student performance.

“Across the board New Zealand’s performance has dropped on all the scores and this is something that the government should be ashamed of.  It shows its policies are nothing short of disastrous.”

“For five years the government has been obsessed with collecting unnecessary and irrelevant data when it should have been focussed on making a difference for students.

“The Minister is being misleading when she claims that this decline is a long-running trend.  By far the biggest drop in achievement has occurred since 2009.

“This government’s obsession with data combined with no solutions for failing education policies has been a disaster for many New Zealand children. Instead of working with teachers and schools to improve education, the government has been hell-bent on dismantling our public education system.

“Countries that have a higher level of equity also have better achievement outcomes for all students.   Eighteen percent of New Zealand children now live in poverty and the student achievement gap reflects the impact that poverty has on students’ learning.

“All the findings are saying the same thing.  It’s now time for the government to start to look at what really works in education.

“We need the government to work with teachers and schools to restore our education system to its previous top performing level instead of having one of the fastest levels of decline in the OECD.”

That Was the Year That Was: SOSNZ – 2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

David Shearer’s Labour Party Conference Speech – The Education Bits

David Shearer, Labour Leader

What is Labour promising to do for education if elected in 2014…

The approach to education will change.

I started my working life as a teacher. So I have an appreciation of the valuable job teachers do.

And I know a gimmick when I see one.

Bigger classes, unqualified teachers, charter schools and performance pay will achieve nothing.

The intelligent approach, the one I will follow is the one that asks:  what will it take to make this education system the best in the world?

Our teachers are demoralised. Yet we all know they are critical to equipping our kids for the modern world.

We know too that shutting schools in Christchurch destroys communities and causes heartache for already distressed families.

I went to a public meeting there after receiving a moving letter from Christchurch mum Sonya Boyd.  She’s devastated that her local school will close and is worried about the impact on her son Ben, his friends and in fact the whole community.

At that meeting a parent told me: Hekia Parata is doing what 10,000 earthquakes couldn’t do – destroying our school.

I say to the people of Christchurch: we are committed to helping you rebuild your city from the grassroots up – not the Beehive down.

You want, more than anything, to get your lives back, and on your own terms.

It’s time you had a government that stood alongside you.”


Closing Statement

“We won’t be taking office to tinker, we’ll be taking office to remake New Zealand.

So I am asking you.

To rise up.

To take a message of hope to New Zealanders.

To fight for our future.

To say loud and clear that there is a better way. There is a Labour way.

We can do it, standing strong together.

We can make the change.

And we’ll do that in 2014.”


For the whole speech, click here.

Ms Parata – Please Redo Your Homework on Teacher Cuts and Class Sizes

A storm has blown up this week in New Zealand as people reacted to plans in the budget to cut teacher numbers, primarily affecting intermediate schools.

The whole sorry saga was a shambles.  Once it became clear that some schools would lose up to 7 teachers, the government hastily backed down and found a mysterious $20 Million with which to cap losses  at two teachers per school.   Parents and teachers and even many pupils were suddenly moved to ask what the government is doing to our education system, what its plans are, and whether it actually thinks things through very carefully before trying to implement them.  After all, if they can miscalculate the rejigging of technology teachers, what else might they be getting wrong?

When Hekia Parata, Education Minister, was challenged in Parliament about the effect of the 2012 Budget on class sizes, this was her response:

Catherine Delahunty: When she told schools like Papatoetoe Intermediate School, which will lose seven teachers in 3 years’ time, that it was their choice how they cut staff, did she consider increasing class sizes to 40 or cutting technology altogether a fair choice?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: Successive Governments have provided a funding formula to schools. It is based on a number of aspects and responsibilities. Then the professional leadership of a school makes the decision as to how it will deliver the national curriculum—

(see whole exchange here)

So let me be clear.  Government removes the funding for the teachers but it is the school’s fault the classes are too big (or removed entirely) as they decide how to implement the policy.  Eh?  Really?  And the alternatives are what, exactly, Ms Parata?  Because if you know some magic way to deal with that policy in another less painful manner we’d all love to hear it…

Oh wait – I remember now, the figures had been wrongly calculated and you are now so very generously capping the losses at two per school.


A knock-on effect of all of this debate has been that many educators and parents are once more asking questions about growing class sizes and their impact on student learning.

Ms Parata has also stated that she was in a class of 42 and it didn’t do her any harm (I’m paraphrasing – can anyone give me a link to the actual quote, please).

The government is saying that bigger class sizes are fine, they are no detriment to the learner or the teacher, and all will be well in the world.    But at the same time as assuring us that all is well with the world, we know that many ministers choose to send children to private schools that boast of small class sizes as a key selling point.  So what people want to know is this – does it matter, or does it not matter, and why are we getting hypocritical and contradictory answers from government.

“Prime Minister John Key’s son attended King’s College in Otahuhu, which said on its website:

“Class sizes are limited and our policy of a low pupil-to-teacher ratio

ensures students are given greater individual attention in the classroom.”

Mr Key’s daughter attended St Cuthbert’s College,

which similarly advertised the fact that it limited classes to 15 students

“to allow for individual attention to each student”.”


Let’s be very clear – myself and many others are not arguing there shouldn’t be private schools.  One concern is that government doesn’t check its figures, correctly resulting is wild miscalculations.   We worry, too, that the government does not take high quality factual information into account before launching policies.  And we worry that key individuals are hypocritical and contradictory about important issues.

Maori Party education spokesman Te Ururoa Flavell said:  “We are not convinced that the debate is adequately informed by evidence around what is the ideal ratio between teachers and students, and how much this matters to lifting achievement.”  –source

The Secretary for Education Lesley Longstone  said the “Ministry would ideally like to have “very small class sizes” and the resources to put into professional learning and development to improve the quality of teaching.  Those things are going to have the biggest impact on student outcomes.”  -source

So, does class size matter?  What do you think?


For more, read:

Follow Save Our Schools NZ on

Category list:


%d bloggers like this: