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Where is the Charter School data?

wanted 2For 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.

Charter schools evaluation reveals next to nothing, says Green Party

Green party logoThe only useful conclusion in the Government-sanctioned evaluation of charter schools is the confirmation that smaller classes work better, the Green Party says.

The evaluation, carried out by consultancy firm Martin Jenkins and released publicly yesterday, was a narrow study of three of the first five charter schools, which are part of the National Government’s charter schools experiment.

“The report was meant to focus on innovation but the only educational ‘innovation’ clearly identified is that smaller class sizes work better,” says Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

“Given that we knew this already, it’s even more apparent that National’s charter schools experiment is a giant waste of money – money which would have been better spent reducing class sizes for all children in state schools.

“The report also identifies ‘risk taking’ as a strength of charter schools, even though we know the risks taken in allowing the Whangaruru charter school were disastrous for the children enrolled there.

“The worst thing about this evaluation is its failure to carry out any real comparison between state schools which innovate and charter schools, which supposedly help priority learners via innovation.

“All we know from this report is that the charter schools like the extra money from the Government, as well as their reduced accountability to the Government, and that small classes help students.

“There is also no mention of any innovation to assist students with special needs, who the Government says are a target for the charter schools model.

“There is already considerable innovation in many state schools and the Green Party’s School Hubs policy would build on that, as well as reduce inequality.

“Introducing School Hubs would mean every decile one to decile four school would have a nurse, food in schools and real community involvement – all of which will lead to a more inclusive education experience for our children,” said Ms Delahunty.

Why Business Models Fail in Education

This is an interesting comment on the perils of using business models in education – from Diane Ravitch’s most excellent blog (which you should go and bookmark right now):
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“Having spent years in business, I cringe at blindly applying business models to education. 360 evaluation is a business fad that will join MBOs and matrix management. I tried student evaluations. Students are usually upset over not getting a certain grade on the most recent test, angry over a detention, or at the other extreme, like the teacher and don’t want to say anything negative. I eavesdropped on two of my high school students evaluating their teachers and a “good” teacher had more to do with being lenient, funny, and good looking. It took me years to later appreciate my good teachers – not at the time the most popular. Most parents mean well, but often have only glimpses of the classroom from their child’s perspective. Often the truth is difficult and not always well received. Peers are OK, but not all peers are objective or can separate politics. Administrators may not have spent enough years in a math or language arts classroom – perhaps moving up through phys ed – to understand content and delivery. Third party evaluations are too disconnected and have conflicts of interest.
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So a better solution? First, and this principle is also overlooked in business, IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT. Not all schools are failing, and then, not all for the same reason. Blanket, scorched earth solutions never work and just replace one set of problems with another. Improving upon what exists takes skill and savvy. Second, if you want to know what makes a good teacher, ask a good teacher. We all know who they are. Mentoring is by far the best system with centuries of success. Make it work. Third, start listening to teachers, not politicians, billionaires, and opportunists. The latter have other interests. Teachers, in contrast to the constant demonizing, are in the classroom everyday and want their students to learn.
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The best approach to education is there is no single approach to education. Students are individuals and human. Not data points in a multi-level statistical model. Teachers know this. Will anybody else listen?”
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Diane Ravitch's blog

A comment on the post about “Zombie Education Policies”:

Having spent years in business, I cringe at blindly applying business models to education. 360 evaluation is a business fad that will join MBOs and matrix management. I tried student evaluations. Students are usually upset over not getting a certain grade on the most recent test, angry over a detention, or at the other extreme, like the teacher and don’t want to say anything negative. I eavesdropped on two of my high school students evaluating their teachers and a “good” teacher had more to do with being lenient, funny, and good looking. It took me years to later appreciate my good teachers – not at the time the most popular. Most parents mean well, but often have only glimpses of the classroom from their child’s perspective. Often the truth is difficult and not always well received. Peers are OK, but not…

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Ballard High School Teachers Say NO in Solidarity with Garfield Teachers

The fight against standardised tests that inform nothing and nobody and just waste time and resources is gathering pace in the USA just as NZ is implementing such measures.

Be warned, NZ;  this path the National/ACT government is taking us down is grave folly and does NOT improve student learning or performance.

Read about US teachers saying NO to standardized tests here:  Ballard High School Teachers Say NO in Solidarity with Garfield Teachers.

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