Be very, very clear on this, New Zealand parents – this is where National Standards, charter schools, performance pay and all of the other Global Education Reforms (GERM) lead. It is no accidental path. Stay quiet if this is what you think is right – if this is what you want. But if it’s not, then you really do need to start learning what is happening and start speaking out.
UPDATED WITH MORE INFORMATION HERE (22/3/14)
This from a fellow teacher in California.
“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. Multiple computer crashes (“okay, you just sit right there while we fix it! Don’t talk to anyone!”). Kids sitting for half hour with volume off on headsets but not saying anything. Kids accidentally swapping tangled headsets and not even noticing what they heard had nothing to do with what they saw on the screen. Kids having to solve 8+6 when the answer choices are 0-9 and having to DRAG AND DROP first a 1 then a 4 to form a 14. Some questions where it was only necessary to click an answer but the objects were movable (for no reason). No verbal explanation that you must click the little speaker square to hear the instructions. To go to the next question, one clicks “next” in lower right-hand corner…..which is also where the pop-up menu comes up to take you to other programs or shut down, so many shut-downs or kids winding up in a completely different program.
If this is not what you want for your kids and grandkids, you’d better start making some noise. Ten years ago we would’ve thought this would be literally impossible.”
Teachers in the USA – you may want to join BATs in fighting these reforms.
Teachers in New Zealand you may wish to join the Kiwi BATs to raise your teacher voice.
A warning to those countries (like NZ) that are getting ever more enamoured with the idea of testing.
The Network for Public Education (NPE)’s first National Conference closed with a call for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing.
Two of the eleven areas the NPE has asked to be looked into are:
Testing worldwide has always been part of schooling, and was primarily an in-house, in-class affair that is done, reviewed and acted on by the teacher under the guidance of their team and principal so that the teacher knew what to help the students learn next and students knew where they were at and where they were going. Surely those two things are by far the most important reasons for testing?
As global reforms have taken hold of education, testing has become a stick with which to politically beat schools, teachers. communities, and students. The system has been taken down the wrong path under extreme pressure from the likes of Pearson, Gates, the Wal-Mart clan, Murdoch, Arne Duncan and other reformers. It’s no understantement to say in some countries, such as the USA and Australia, the tests themselves are less about education and more a political and money-making tool.
The Network for Public Education (NPE) states:
“True intelligence in the 21st century depends on creativity and problem-solving, and this cannot be packaged into a test.
We need to invest in classrooms, in making sure teachers have the small class sizes, resources, and support they need to succeed.
We need to stop wasting time and money in the pursuit of test scores.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Take note New Zealand.
Sources and further reading:
“Children commence school at many different points along the language learning continuum. What they know about reading and writing on school entry is more a measure of their pre- school literacy experiences than of their intelligence. Curriculum begins with what the children know, not some mythical Prep or Grade 3 standard. It is the teacher’s job to find out what each child knows, what his interests are, and to teach from there. It is grossly unfair and anti-educational to set the same expectations for all children of the one age.”
Amen to that.
A well researched, well argue piece warning on the dangers of national testing and the insidious tendrils of the corporate testing machine…
Lorraine Wilson Lorraine Wilson was the first Guest Writer for The Treehorn Express on 3 Feb. 2013. Remember her dynamic description of education as a ‘processing of oranges’? She presented the brilliantly persuasive tableau that clearly delineated the differences between EDUCATION AS A CHILD-CENTRED, INDIVIDUALISED operation and EDUCATION AS A STANDARDISED, MASS PRODUCED one, the latter process using the ‘the processing of oranges’ as its model. The article referenced C Leland & W Casten: Literacy Education for the 21st Century: It’s Time to Close The Factory [Reading & Writing Education].
[I’d like to see this tableau lined up against my Pasi Sahlberg sponsored one in Submission No.83….the almost last one. I’d also like to read a critique of either tablet or both.]
Lorraine’s submission to the Senate Inquiry, below, needs to be read by all teachers who are concerned about the treatment of teaching literacy…
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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’
“These are scary and exciting times to be an activist. Scary because the privatizing dehumanizing forces of neo-liberalism are wrecking havoc everywhere; from the climate, to endless wars, to health care, to outrageous income inequality, and, as readers of this blog know, to dismantling public education.
The magnitude of this assault, its machine-like ability to crush all that lay in its way, and the fear and silence it provokes often leave me stunned and uncertain of where and how to act.
But these are also exciting times, from Occupy Wall Street, to Wisconsin where workers joined in solidarity to demand their voices be heard and their rights protected; to Chicago where teachers were joined by students and parents in resisting the attack on their union and their schools; to teachers in Seattle, led by the teachers of Garfield High School, asserting their knowledge, their judgement their dignity, and their moral righteousness to say no to MAP tests; to parents in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia joining to resist school closings: we can be a part of the movement to reclaim education and the possibility of the democratic project.
Still, we waiver between fear and courage. Many of us have found ourselves alone with our understanding that a terrible wrong is being done to public schools and universities.”
Read more – see something, say something–organize!
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.