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97% of teachers are useless – right?

Written By: - Date published: 11:24 am, October 6th, 2012 - 13 comments
Categories: education, Media, schools - Tags: ,

In the latest news from Planet Key, teachers are absolutely useless at “national standards”:

High error rate in National Standards marking

Almost 50 per cent of teachers are incorrectly marking National Standards writing assessments, according to a new report for the Ministry of Education. …

Overall, 49 per cent of teachers’ judgements on writing and 39 per cent on maths were inaccurate, based on the researchers’ findings.

“Given evidence from the assessment scenarios, and the magnitude of the changes observed, it is most likely the shifts in the data are attributable to teacher inconsistency,” Ward and Thomas wrote in their National Standards School Sample Monitoring and Evaluation Project 2011 report, which the ministry has recently published.

For example, a year 4 student’s character description of Fred Dagg was ‘above’ the National Standard, but only three per cent of teachers surveyed marked it as such. Ninety-seven per cent gave it the lower rating of ‘at’.

So 97% of teachers got an exercise wrong! 97% of teachers must be useless, right? Sack them all and bring on charter schools I say!

Yeah, sorry about that. Back on Planet Earth I would like to propose an alternative hypothesis. The standards are crap. When 97% of teachers get an exercise “wrong” they aren’t wrong at all, the exercise is. When almost half of teachers are routinely “wrong”, the teachers aren’t wrong at all, the system is.

All this is exactly as predicted in 2010 (pdf):

W. B. Elley, May 2010

2. The Standards have been hastily prepared by committees, and untested for difficulty or intelligibility. They may well prove to be too hard, or too easy for the majority of children.

3. The wording of the Literacy Standards is vague and capable of many interpretations. They do not specify clearly how difficult the pupils’ tasks are to be, or how well pupils need to be able to perform, to pass the standard. Many are very similar from one year level to the next. …

Or see (pdf):

An overwhelming 94% of principals said they had serious professional concerns about the Standards and their implementation for the following reasons:
• tight timeframe for implementation (91%)
• issues with moderation/consistency (90%)
• lack of evidence or trial (89%)
• design flaws i.e. don’t match current norms (87%)…

The government’s own science advisor, Prof. John Hattie said: “The glossy, recently published New Zealand Literacy and Numeracy Standards have no data, no evidence and no evaluation…”. The warnings went on and on and on. And now, exactly as predicted, we’re seeing what a mess these “standards” are.

So heads up please you journalists who should know better. How can you possibly report a stupid statement like 97% of teachers being “wrong” without asking the deeper questions, and looking back at all the expert warnings? If there was a national standard for journalism, that’s a Fail.

13 comments on “97% of teachers are useless – right? ”

  1. It sounds too me like the Gnats’ are trying to setup an annual Teacher scaling exam.
    They are just using those kids as a shield too say exactly what they’re saying at the moment.

    Only those teachers will know how much a student has pushed themselves for an exam.

    And the teachers will always be faced with the delema of encouraging them to try harder and being fair when it comes to the exams/coursework themselves.

    Those standards don’t affect the students’ final grades as far as I know.
    So any teacher using it to encourage the students academic career is an understandable thing, even though it may cost the school a point or two on some stupid website.

    So what are the Gnat’s going too say next?
    “We should be grading our teachers annually” would be my guess.

    Their reason?
    Those teachers aren’t consistent enough.
    They are trying to encourage the students to learn, not Judge them like we want them too.

  2. higherstandard 2

    No most teachers are pretty good, certainly the ones I’ve come across through my children and in my time as a trustee.

    There does however appear to be some issues in relation to assessment consistency by some teachers this is perhaps not surprising at the primary and intermediate levels where teachers are looking after a class across a number of subjects.

  3. Dr Terry 3

    Not only do kids need to learn, they need to ENJOY the learning process. With a government virtually persecuting them, this is a mighty tough call for teachers, whose morale must be at an all time low.

    With the Government’s cooperation, nevertheless, soon we might see a chain of Charter Schools through the country, named “Bishop Brian Tamaki Schools for the Unfortunate”.

    • ianmac 3.1

      If the criteria is vague and indistinct then the assessment is impossibly variable. Like throwing darts while blindfolded.
      The enormous talent and care that Flockton and Crooks put into NEMP in which:
      “Was to get a broad picture of the achievements of representative samples of New Zealand school students at successive points in time so that:
      -trends in educational performance can be identified and reported;
      -good information is available to assist policy makers, curriculum specialists and educators with their planning;
      -the public can know about trends in educational achievement.”


      This sampling was incredibly precise and is one of the things that Finnish Pasi Salberg advocated instead of National Testing and League Tables.

      [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/sat/sat-20121006-0815-pasi_sahlberg_-_improving_education-048.mp3" /]

  4. Coolas 4

    In a joint letter to Anne Tolley in November 2009 top education academics, Professors Martin Thrupp, John Hattie, Terry Crooks, and Lester Flockton said:

    “Minister, in our view the flaws in the new system are so serious that full implementation of the intended National Standards system over the next three years is unlikely to be successful. It will not achieve intended goals and is likely to lead to dangerous side effects.”

    Now their prediction has come true the Ministry blames the teachers. This is seriously rotten behavior from the Ministry of Education …yet again.

    • ianmac 4.1

      So true Coolas. I wondered that when the error rate was published, it would swing around to the teachers’ fault, and nothing wrong with the crystal clear task to be performed. Or so it would be claimed.
      I met an Australian teacher tasked with full time moderation of writing across Australia, who was exhausted because there was no clear cut path agreeable to all. The answer was a lemon.

  5. Young and Dumb 5

    So if I am reading this right, 97% of teachers marked an above grade submission as on the grade?

    • tracey 5.1

      yes, little seems to be made of our oft maligned liberal teachers marking children harder not easier.

      • Young and Dumb 5.1.1

        So if that is the case then they are wrong. You cannot hold a 6 year old to a 7 year old standard. 

        This is just more of a case for clearer marking such as in percentages and raw scores rather than a wordy expression of almost there.

        I would like to see schools bring in somewhat of a more personalised education system that could divide the students into situations where they would excel the most.

        As difficult as it sounds 

  6. tracey 6

    Michael laws! Ive decided it is a swear word, mainly because i struggle to know what other good those two words have

  7. What is more important, providing exiting, inclusive learning environments for children to develop into self motivated learners or having consistency in a flawed assessment system that only deals with a small fraction of the teaching and learning process? This Government is pouring millions into the latter while ignoring the former!

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