For a Minister so obsessed with data and, in particular, the sharing of data, it is interesting how little we know about charter schools.
Bill Courtney writes:
The game of delaying the release of a vast range of information on the charter schools continues.
The Ministry has promised to release a lot of material, including the formal evaluation of 2015 student achievement, in “April” but has refused to state exactly when. They also need to release all of the 2016 quarterly reports, the 2016 contract variations and the second “annual” installment of the Martin Jenkins evaluation of the charter school initative.
In short, lots of information is being withheld for no apparent reason.
When it is finally released, we will go through it and post our thoughts on what it reveals.
In the meantime, propaganda and marketing material fills the void.
“Testing can be fabulous. We can learn a lot about where our students are from tests, and we analyse the results alongside all that we know of the student to plan where the student needs to go next. National Standards, however, are not so hot. Don’t confuse the two.”
Further articles on National Standards: https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/national-standards/
He continues, “I’m actually amazed at how well we are doing. Northland leads NZ on every negative socioeconomic indicator available, yet despite this, despite the simple fact that resourcing for Special Education, behaviour, truancy, health, and wrap around support for families is totally inadequate, teachers and principals in Northland continue to teach to an extremely high level of expertise and dedication.
“Principals up here for many years, have told the Ministry, that whether the Ministry/Minister believes we have the necessary help based on their paper shuffling in Wellington, it is totally inadequate to cover the glaring needs of our children. Now instead of recognising we were correct, instead of providing the help we need, the Minister continues to refuse to acknowledge this and offers more talk as the solution! Northland again short changed!
“As a principal, I spend most of my days as a principal, screaming and fighting the agencies set up to help these children, who are themselves hamstrung by the resourcing levels set for Northland.
“It is soul destroying. Schools up here are dealing on a daily basis, with children who regularly throw furniture around, abuse teachers verbally, hit out at others, threaten, have no lunches, come from homes where drugs are rife etc. We know none of this is the kids fault, but it is impossible to get adequate help for them. Lots of assessment but little “dooey”!
“The Ministry itself has research that is kept quiet that clearly shows that absenteeism is the biggest factor in school success.
“The Minister continues to trumpet how she has improved learning in NZ, based upon what is widely recognised as based on shonky National Standards Data.
What is her answer? To send in more advice! More talking! More assessment.
“I know words are powerful, but we don’t need this. What we need is less talk, and more realistic resourcing to support to cover the needs of the children in Northland!”
The 2013 National Standards data shows marginal improvement in results across the narrow part of the curriculum being measured – reading, writing and maths – but NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said the latest results were just as unreliable and meaningless as the previous data.
“Teachers still have no faith in National Standards, but use them simply because they have no choice,” she said.
“What the results show is what they have always shown – the strong link between socio-economic background and student achievement. We are more concerned about how the government plans to use this dodgy data in the future.”
In March, Education Minister Hekia Parata told the Herald on Sunday newspaper that the government was looking to fund schools according to the progress students made in National Standards. The Minister also told media when the government’s “Investing in Educational Success” policy was announced in January that National Standards would be used to measure the success of the proposed “communities of schools”.
NZEI Te Riu Roa President Judith Nowotarski said that with the General Election approaching, the government needed to front up to parents and teachers about its plans.
“This is an election year and New Zealanders have a right to know what the government’s real plans are if it wins the election.
“We challenge the Education Minister to assure voters that there is absolutely no intention to move towards a system that funds schools or teachers according to National Standards performance,” said Ms Nowotarski.
“Schools should be funded according to the needs of their students, to ensure equal education opportunities for every child, regardless of their background. I can’t imagine anything more unfair than taking funding from schools in disadvantaged communities and giving it to schools where kids are already making great progress thanks to their socio-economic background.
Ms Nowotarski said such a move would be absolutely disastrous for education in this country and children would end up as the collateral damage.
Ms Nowotarski said teachers and parents were not impressed with the government’s plan to spend $359 million on four highly-paid new roles as part of its “Investing in Educational Success” policy. Surveys have shown that teachers and parents would prefer supporting children more directly through smaller class sizes, more special education support and high quality early childhood education.
“Ultimately, the real question parents and school communities want answered is when will the government address the real causes of educational underachievement – poverty and inequity – instead of doggedly pursuing its ideological experiments in education,” said Ms Nowotarski.
Now this is a rather alarming turn of events:
MOE are desperate to have columns all adding up nicely, so helpfully suggested a way to make my reading achievement data look tidy…
Date: Friday, 9 May 2014 12:38 PM
Subject: National Standards data
A little while ago I sent the spreadsheet of national standards data to my MOE office as required. Some of the columns to do with ethnic group achievement levels did not tally. I checked my school assessment data carefully and confirmed the numbers in each ethnic group at each level, but this would still not tally with overall ethnic group numbers. The overall numbers did tally to my school roll at the time, so there is a ‘glitch’. I believe the glitch is to do with the priority ethnic group system the MOE uses which places students as Maori if they indicate at any level that they are (a student listing themselves as Asian, Pakeha, NZ Maori will automatically default to Maori for instance).
I received a phone call and email today from MOE regarding certain ethnic columns not tallying with ethnic totals. I told them I knew that, but the individual ethnic totals in each level (‘well below’, ‘below’, ‘at’, and ‘above’) tally with my school assessment data. MOE are desperate to have columns all adding up nicely, so helpfully suggested a way to make my reading achievement data look tidy. They suggested I take the three Asian students in the ‘below’ column and place them in the ‘above’ column. That would eliminate one red tag. I pointed out that I did actually have three Asian students in the ‘below’ category. That, however, was of no interest to the MOE person who indicated that it would balance things up.
After the phone conversation I requested guidance via email on what it was suggested I do. I received an email back from MOE with the stated suggestion confirmed as above.
What they are suggesting I do is in fact manipulate my data to make it fit. In this case it would make my data look better as I would now have no Asian students in the ‘below’ category and three more Asian students in the ‘above’ category….
Read the rest on Networkonnet
Unhappy with news that England is to begin testing its 4 year olds and even 2 year olds, New Zealand Education Minister Hekia Parata has been busy this weekend not only avoiding the mounting calls for her to resign but also trying to figure out how to win in this increasingly tricky race for data.
After careful and open consultation with people she knew would agree with her, she has decided that henceforth all children should be tested in utero.
To avoid cheating and ensure the data is rigorous enough to share with businesses, mothers will be blindfolded and gagged so they can’t give their progeny help with the tests. Consideration is also being given to the idea of putting mothers’ heads in vacuum flasks so that they cannot pass on information by telepathy.
ACT raised the very real concern that twin and triplicate pregnancies could lead to siblings cheating. In has been agreed that, in this instance, the babies may be induced early so that they can be tested in separate rooms.
Education and medical specialists have raised concerns, which Hekia dismissed as “The usual hoohah from those with a vested interest in the status quo,” adding that it is “essential that five out of five unborn children have the right to know where to put an apostrophe and how to share a pizza fairly between five people.”
National Standards data will be published by Stuff.co.nz so that would-be parents can judge which doctors would give their unborn children the best chance of success. Doctors and midwives may, admitted Parata, be paid according to how clever the babies they deliver are.
Fetuses will also be allocated National Student Numbers (NSN) as soon as the little blue line appears on the stick, so they can be tracked through the system.
Parata was heard to mutter, as she walked out of the press conference, “Beat that Gove.”
I am a mother. My banshee is 5. He just started school. He was excited – I was excited – school is fabulous. We both knew he would have a ball, learning new things, meeting new friends, having super experiences – and indeed he is. He loves it.
Thankfully has no idea of the GERMy things infecting his happy world of learning:
He has been allocated a National Student Number to track him throughout his education. His results, standards, and lord knows what else is being stored against this number. I can’t opt him out of this – trust me I have asked. He and every child in or entering the system as of the 2014 school year has an NSN, and god only knows what they are recording about him.
The data can be passed on by government to anyone they deem suitable. See that little bit there on the Ministry page that says the “National Student Number (NSN) is a unique identifier that can be used by authorised users for .. research purposes.” Yes, about that..
Because given this government’s record with our private data, and given its record on favouring business over academics, I have to say I worry. In the USA, student data is given to private companies and the likes of The Gates Foundation without any permission sought from or given by parents. And Mr Gates has his own agenda.
But it’s okay, because “The Education Act 1989 includes an offence provision, with a penalty up to a maximum of $15,000, for a conviction of misuse of the National Student Number (NSN).” Oh that’s fine then – a hefty fine like that is sure to scare off your average education reformer billionaire.
So, should we worry? Well, hell yes.
Of student data collection, Diane Ravitch said “If anyone thinks for one New York minute that the purpose of creating this database is simply for the good of teachers and students then that person is credulous in the extreme.”
My child and yours are now a government commodity.
Soon, he will be deemed well above, above, at or below standard for numeracy, reading and writing. Those labels will be added to the above data set. They are not there for him or for his teacher (who is marvellous, I might add). They are there for politicians. Make no bones about that.
And what joy for those students in small communities where they are easily identifiable, who find themselves highlighted in the national press as failing. What a treat when a student’s results are displayed in the classroom for all to see.
That must be a real inspiration for them.
Because nothing motivates someone to improve more than telling them they are below standard and then sharing that information far and wide.
Sooner or later, there will be pressure for the banshee to get up to speed with anything he is “behind” with. I don’t mean encouragement – I mean pressure. The majority of teachers will resist political pressure and carry on teaching to his interests and strengths, moving him forward appropriately from where he is to the next level. But when the message teachers are getting is that all that matters is National Standards levels, eventually pressures come to bear:
“So a couple of weeks ago when his new teacher told me he had to stay in at lunchtime to complete his writing, I was shocked. I understand he is a dreamy and imaginative child, and that he needs supervision to complete tasks sometimes (which drives me mad), but I have no idea how any teacher EVER thinks it’s ok to keep a five year old in at lunchtime. Really, what kind of system thinks punishment is a motivator?” Source
These are children, not robots. They learn like they grow – in fits and bursts, not on an easily measured path. Of course their learning needs to be tracked – in fact teachers always have tested in-class and tracked growth, so that students and teachers know what the next goals will be. But to be pushed to learn at a certain speed, as if all kids should hit targets at the same time, is not sound practice.
Sadly, National Standards is encouraging just that, and this is the type of thing we will see more and more of: Whether his teacher or school tries to mitigate it or not, education establishments are under pressure to hit politically-motivated targets, and this will inevitably filter down. Most schools do a great job of not letting students see the pressures on the school to hoop jump, but if things carry on the way they are going, teachers may not find it so easy to keep that pressure out of the classroom, even for new entrants.
The USA is years down this data-obsessed, privatisation-motivated path of lunacy, and this is what successive reforms have reduced them to:
“My kindergarteners had their standardized computerized test today. There were over 100 questions. Answers were selected by drop and drag with a trackpad, no mouse is available. One class took five hours to finish. Kids crying in 4 of 5 classes.” Source
How long until this is the fate of Kiwi kids?
You might be thinking “Oh, well, it sounds dodgy, but you can always opt out of the National Student Number and/or National Standards if you dislike them so much.”
Well, you would think so, eh? The child being mine, and all.
But no, you cannot opt out.
Just let me say that again – you, the parent, or you the student cannot opt out of having a National Student Number and having your data collected and stored and shared around by the government with whoever they see fit without your permission.
You the parent or you the student cannot refuse to be part of National Standards.
So, next time government tell you all of these changes are about parental choice, ask them about your choice to opt out. Where did that go? **
Possibly the same place it went for these US children who were pulled out of classrooms by CPS investigators for individual interviews about this month’s test boycott — without teacher or parental permission.
Intimidating children? Ignoring parents? This is where 20 years of reforms has got the USA. New Zealand is only a few years down the line of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), but already we are seeing the same disregard for what parents want.
I ask again, where is my choice to opt out?
People – many for the first time – are joining the dots and seeing that it’s not a few little things here and there but a concerted plan to change the face of our education system to an increasingly privatised one.
A crisis is being manufactured that just does not exist.
You want to now who’s pulling the global strings behind the GERM? You could start by reading this to see Bill Gates’ part in it all.
Whanau and Educationalists want to improve our education system. It’s good but it could be better, and they recognise that. They do not want it to stand still.
Students and teachers have much in common: they do their best work when supported, encouraged and know that what they are doing is of value. And neither achieves their best when pressured, bullied and given unsound hoops to jump through, like monkeys at a tea party.
So, when next Hekia Parata tells you that what she is doing is in the interests of the children, ask yourself this:
Is it really for the children?
Who else stands to benefit?
** NOTE: “”Differences from state schools:
Private schools are not required to follow the Government’s National Education Guidelines. This means that they do not have to follow the New Zealand Curriculum or comply with the National Standards’ requirements.”” http://www.ero.govt.nz/Review-Process/For-Schools-and-Kura-Kaupapa-Maori/Reviews-of-Private-Independent-Schools – which rather begs the question of why not, if they are meant to be sooooo darned useful?
Fair enough, I understand that – I am passionate too, and immediately want to know what the results do or do not tell us about how NZ is doing, educationally.
But surely it’s a time to read, reflect, research, and discuss the findings and the study itself, and try to eke out something meaningful form it, rather than just jump in and score Brownie points?
The goal is to see where we can improve things for our learners, after all.
Below are the Ministry’s main take away points from the study, copied verbatim from their web site.
I am going to refrain from commenting or adding my own observations or thoughts for now, as I would rather people read them with an open mind and ask questions of them.
Here goes – get your thinking caps on:
In New Zealand, over 5,000 students (4,291 for core PISA subjects, 958 for financial literacy) from 177 schools took part in the study, in July 2012.
I’d love to hear others’ observations, in the comments below or on the Facebook page.
The publication of unreliable National Standards data by region today is an expensive distraction that risks creating an unhealthy competition between regions but will do nothing to help lift the educational achievement of students.
NZEI Immediate Past President Ian Leckie is questioning why the Government is releasing such poor quality and unreliable data.
“It appears the Government is trying to create some kind of regional competition around students’ results, but it’s particularly pointless because there is no mechanism for addressing student achievement or school effectiveness at a regional government level.”
Mr Leckie says the Government’s ongoing obsession with shonky National Standards has been an extremely frustrating exercise for teachers.
“More than $40 million of public money is being wasted on producing National Standards data. But teachers and schools already know which students are under-achieving. The big problem is a lack of funding to share effective teaching strategies and provide specialist support so that every child gets the education they need.”
He says the regional break-down shows variation between regions that are within the margin of error in most cases.
“Even if the data is to be believed, all it tells us is that in regions with the highest rates of child poverty, student achievement is lower. This tells us nothing new.”
Mr Leckie says while the regional data is uninformative and meaningless, he fears that the impending publication of school-by-school data will be very damaging.
“The publication of detailed school data by children at every year level later this month will unfairly label some schools as failing – and risks identifying and labelling children as “failing” when they are making normal progress for their age.
“The Minister’s own advice is that the Standards, which were never trialled or tested, need to be reviewed and adjusted. We advise parents not to place any importance on this information but to talk to their children’s teacher if they want a true picture of their child’s progress and success at school.”
Parents Opting Out
As a mother, I want to opt my child out of National Standards testing. I am not the only one.
I also intend want to refuse to have any data on my child entered into the PaCT system where it will be held by government and stored in the cloud. Given the government’s record on IT systems, I have no faith it would be safe. I also have no faith it would not be shared with agencies I disapprove of.
So, experts, where do parents stand legally on those two issues?
I would not want to put my child’s teacher in a difficult position, nor the school, so need to know exactly what my rights are.
If you can help or advise me, please comment below.
A strong coalition of principal and teacher leaders have rejected the Government’s decision to make a computerised National Standards assessment tool, PaCT, compulsory for every primary school student in 2015.
Cease and desist
The NZ Principals’ Federation, NZEI Te Riu Roa, the NZ Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools, and the Catholic Principals Association have called on school boards, their colleagues and the organisations developing the ‘Progress and Consistency Tool’ (PaCT) to cease any involvement in the further development of PaCT, including this year’s trials of the tool.
The Government plans to make the PaCT mandatory from 2015, claiming it will make National Standards data more reliable. This is rejected by many.
The PaCT asks teachers to judge students’ National Standards levels by working through tick boxes of illustrations representative of achievement outcomes.
The PaCT tool then generates a result for each student. Principals and teachers say making the tool mandatory will undermine teacher professionalism, reduce quality teaching for students and cement in a reliance on data from National Standards.
Introducing National Testing by the back door
‘Making PaCT compulsory will be no different from having a national test with all the negative connotations that implies. Most dangerously it assumes that every child is the same, learns the same way and can achieve the same results. Every parent knows that is a ridiculous assumption,’ say the leaders.
No Evidence Supporting Performance Pay
It also opens the floodgates for other initiatives like competitive performance pay for teachers. There is no research evidence to show that when teachers receive performance pay it helps students learn better.
Quality Education into the future
Sir Ken Robinson has spoken out about the reforms (deforms) sweeping education, pointing out that children are organic and individual, not robots to be programmed. He argues that this type of reform is taking us in the polar opposite direction of what is needed for a world-class education system that moves us into the future. You can watch one of his very amusing and informative talks here:
Sound Education Policies not Political Sideshows
‘We want our teachers focused on delivering the broad rich curriculum which keeps Kiwi kids amongst the highest achievers in a twenty-first century world. Parents don’t want them distracted by these political side-shows which follow an agenda that will never improve children’s learning or achievement but rather reduce children to “sets of data”,’ the leaders say, asserting that:
‘For the parents and children of New Zealand, we have a moral obligation to ensure nothing, including PaCT, threatens the delivery of the world class NZ Curriculum, or interferes with our children’s ability to remain in the top international achievement rankings’
“There is a unanimous expert opinion
– even among those championing the potential of the National Standards –
that it would be very foolish indeed to make judgments about any school
on the basis of their results.” (Source)
Soon we will be treated to another battery of shonky data from The Ministry of Education.
John Key trumpets that “National Standards in education are a critical part of the National-led plan for securing a brighter future for New Zealand children”. Just how, Mr Key? Tell us how crappy data, poorly reported, helps us towards a brighter future.
Because it doesn’t give us a whole lot of faith when some assessment tools are widely reported to give inflated results and one this week announced that “new mapping has been applied to existing test results… you will notice that the curriculum levels have moved down – usually by one or two curriculum sub-levels. ” What?
So let me get this right… Teachers are spending hours and hours assessing kids’ work using tools approved by the Ministry. The Ministry then decides the tools are not accurate or reliable. The end grades are then moved up and down by the Ministry (seemingly more often than whore’s drawers, and possibly with less shame). And then the results are published as if they mean something useful…
Give me a break…
by Dianne Khan, reblogged from The Daily Blog
Read the rest here: A warning about National Standards data – reblogged from The Daily Blog
“Let’s get something very clear here and now.
This is how bad it can and has become.”
When children become source data and teachers feel pushed to teach to the test, it’s all gone to hell in a hand basket. Read more …
via How Bad Can It Get?.
Reviewers of the data noted that “New Zealand’s education system has won major praise with it nearing the top in literacy, mathematics and science according to a highly recognised international assessment system. But the data points to some alarming gaps in New Zealand – especially socio-economic.”  So we are doing well despite the shocking gaps between those with much and those with little. Go figure.
So just how well did we do?
Overall, in 2009 New Zealand was ranked 5th out of 34 OECD countries for mean PISA scores across reading, mathematics and science.
Fifth. Fifth out of thirty four. FIFTH!
Where was the USA? The UK? Aus? Below NZ, not above. So next time a politician stands up and talks about education here in the God Zone, just remember – 5th in the world.
Are the 2012 statistics a fluke?
No, they’re not. NZ consistently performs well, as shown in the 2000, 2002 and 2003 information below: 
Over three-quarters (76 percent) of New Zealanders aged 25–64 years have achieved secondary or tertiary educational qualifications.
This is at the upper end of the OECD scale, placing New Zealand twelfth among 30 nations, slightly behind Austria and ahead of Finland, and well above the OECD average of 65 percent.
There is considerable variation in the proportion of people holding qualifications, from 13 percent in Mexico to 88 percent in the Czech Republic.
|Educational Attainment(percentage of 25–64 year olds attaining at least upper secondary education), 2002
High rates of early childhood education
New Zealand also has higher rates of participation in early childhood education than most other OECD countries.
Ninety-three percent of New Zealand four year olds were involved in early childhood education in 2000, compared with an OECD average of just 73 percent. New Zealand ranked ninth in the proportion of four year olds in education.
|Education(proportion of 4 year olds in primary or pre-primary education), 2000
New Zealand children rank relatively highly on international literacy scales.
The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment measures performance levels of students near the end of compulsory education in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.
The data shows that New Zealand children rank seventh among OECD countries, with comparable data in terms of the average score across the three scales, behind Finland, Korea, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia. New Zealand rates above the OECD average on each of the scales – fifth in reading, ninth in mathematics and seventh in science.
| Student Literacy(student performance on the combined reading, scientific and mathematical literacy scales), 2003
So just how well did we do in the latest statistics?
The science results for 15 year olds were topped by Shanghai (575), Finland (554), Singapore (542) and New Zealand (532). That means we are the 4th best in science out of 65 countries. The OECD average was 501.
The top reading literacy scores for 15-year-olds showed Korea (with a score of 539), Finland (536), Hong Kong-China (533), Singapore (526), Canada (524) and then New Zealand (521). New Zealand was well above the OECD average of 493. It’s worth noting that all but one of the countries out-performing NZ there have education systems based on equitable education for all, rather than competition. Singapore is the only exception to that. None have charter schools.
We did very well in maths, too.
It’s worth remembering all of this and celebrating how well we do as a country.
That’s not to say we don’t have areas in need of careful focus and improvement – of course we do. All teachers know that – we all want that. We want to be able to easily get access to professional development so we can enhance the skills we have. We want to lift achievement in immigrants, Pacific Islanders and Maori students so that they stand a better chance of achieving the same as other groups. We want to address the huge and worrying disparity in achievement between the haves and the have-nots.
It’s a great system we have, and a wonderful one to build on and improve further – it isn’t in need of a complete overhaul, just the trust and respect of those in charge, and a willingness to listen to our advice, suggestions and ideas.
Then we can all get on with more of what we do well – teaching.
It’s really wonderful for me to see an analysis that has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the (admittedly shonky) data. Well worth a read even if you have to skim read the mathsy bits 🙂
DISCLAIMER: I’m a student of statistics – I wrote a Masters thesis in geography which used many statistical methods which I literally picked up along the way, and I’m currently studying towards a Graduate Diploma in Applied Statistics at Massey University. I’m also learning to use R as a go. I like to use this blog to explore things that interest me and stuff that I learn, including statistics. Some of the methods used here are still very new to me and my methodology may be flawed, and I welcome any feedback you might have on my methodology or my R script – the R script is here, and the dataset is here.
A lot has been written in the political stratosphere regarding last week’s release of National Standards lecture. Those on the right of the political spectrum have defend National Standards as a meaningful release of information that…
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