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Do little still do nothing

Written By: - Date published: 10:27 am, February 3rd, 2010 - 32 comments
Categories: education - Tags:

Welcome back, John Armstrong. In your piece today you wrote about John Key’s emergency efforts to cover for Anne Tolley’s disasterious handling of national standards:

“It is effectively the first of what is likely to be a series of initiatives this year to bury the overstated claims that he has been a “do little” prime minister”

Couldn’t even bear to write it, eh John?

Rodney Hide actually called Key a ‘do nothing’ Prime Minister. More precisely, he said Key “doesn’t do anything”.

And, I have to disagree. I don’t think showing up for a half-hour press conference and deciding at the last minute to put out $200,000 worth of taxpayer-funded propaganda* to try to rescue national standards counts as ‘doing anything’. It shows how little he is doing that he let things get this bad in the first place.

While I’m on the topic. That made-up ‘30% of teachers need to lift their game’ that Key pulled out yesterday really reveals the true agenda behind national standards. Like ‘No Child Left Behind‘ in the US, it’s a trojan horse for performance pay for teachers. And why is performance pay for teachers such a bad idea? Because when you pay teachers on the basis of their pupils’ marks you encourage teachers to ‘teach to the test’ rather than give a broader education, you cause grade inflation, and you make it more lurcative to work at high decile schools so the poor kids end up with the worst teachers.

*(I wonder if the leaflet was designed by the graphic artist Key has employed in his office. Yup, he’s got his own propaganda designer. Guess they don’t count towards the cap on public servants)

32 comments on “Do little still do nothing ”

  1. randal 1

    the more you see him on the teevee the more you realise that he is p*ssed off with the whole deal anyway and the sooner he can get out of here and back to civilisation the better.

  2. I did wonder where Goober Key got the 30% from. I didn’t here is any of the press actually challenged him on this number. sounded like he plucked it out of thin air.
    And what’s more, Goober Key can’t even speak from the cuff at the new conference. The chump sounded wooden and out of his depth.

    • Lew 2.1

      According to the chap on the wireless this morning it was a misinterpretation of an ERO figure.


    • PT 2.2

      if key is out of his depth and a goober what do you call a moron who gets arrested for climbing trees and pissing off thousands of people who want to watch tennis.

  3. toad 3

    Key does have some justification for his 30% figure (although not how he used it).

    The December 2009 ERO Report “Reading and Writing in Years 1 and 2” concluded:

    ERO found that about 70 percent of teachers made good use of a range of effective reading and writing teaching practices in Years 1 and 2 classes. Effective teachers were more likely to inquire into ways of improving their teaching, and work collaboratively with other staff to share good practice. These teachers had a sense of urgency about developing the child as a reader and writer. Their teaching was evidentially based, deliberate and gave children opportunities to practise new skills and knowledge during the instructional classroom programme.

    In contrast, the remaining 30 percent of teachers had little or no sense of how critical it was for children to develop confidence and independence in early reading and writing. These teachers had minimal understanding of effective reading and writing teaching, set inappropriately low expectations and did not seek opportunities to extend their own confidence in using a wider range of teaching practices. In these classrooms learning opportunities to motivate, engage or extend children were limited.

    Key misinterprets this as “30 per cent of teachers were not doing a good job of teaching reading and writing”.

    The 30% figure relates specifically to the teaching of reading and writing to Year 1 and Year 2 classes. Key, with no justification, extends that to all teachers teaching reading and writing.

    That the teachers teaching Year 1 and Year 2 reading and writing ineffectively had minimal understanding of effective reading and writing teaching indicates an inadequacy in teacher training, rather than that the teachers themselves are lazy or incompetent.

    National Standards won’t do anything about that. Improving teacher training will. Key and Tolley have got it all arse about face.

    • PT 3.1

      nats are putting millions into teacher training. think before you speak otherwise you look stupid

      • Lanthanide 3.1.1

        Is this millions more than what would have gone into teacher training otherwise, or simply a continuation of past policy?

        Think before you speak, otherwise you look stupid. Might want to brush up on your punctuation, while you’re about it.

      • snoozer 3.1.2

        try again, PT. National cut teacher training http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry/Budget/Budget2009/EducationSavings.aspx

        That’s “professional development” among ohter things on the list of what National cut, if you need more help.

        How does it feel getting consistantly shown to be wrong?

        Me, I would stop just spouting stuff and start gettign informed. But I guess we’re different people.

      • The Nats have taken 90 million out of State funding in Education. Teachers coarses and professional development is down PT its you who looks stupid!

        Maybe you should actually start reading before you post or people will think you have shit for brains!

        • John

          I hope you’re not a teacher Craig. “Courses” I think you mean. Shit for brains indeed.

    • If you delve into the ERO report itself things are even less clear.

      For instance at page 7

      “the overall quality of the teaching of reading in Years 1 and 2 was
      either high or good quality in 69 percent of the schools. There was a considerable difference in the quality of the teaching of reading in nearly a third of the remaining schools. In 21 percent of schools the quality of the reading programme was adequate, and in the remaining 10 percent it was limited.”

      At page 8

      “teachers in just over two-thirds of schools made good or very good use of their assessments to plan and evaluate reading programmes, and share information with parents and children”.

      So the 70% figure was for high or good quality, 21% was adequate and only 10% was limited.

      It is a shame the MSM did not do a bit of reading before printing. Perhaps they are in need of remedial help themselves?

      • George.com 3.2.1

        The ERO study showed that overall quality of teaching of reading found 90% of teachers being adequate or better. 10 % were deemed limited. Overall quality of teaching of writing found 86% of teachers being adequate or better. 14% were deemed inadequate. Overwhelming numbers adequate and above, a small percentage (which of course needs to be worked on) were limited.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      Key and Tolley have got it all arse about face.

      That’s National in a nutshell.

  4. Hugh 4

    It’s not ‘grade inflation’, it’s grade contraction – the clustering of grades in the upper end of the spectrum. It would only be grade inflation if we were inventing grades above A+

    • Bright Red 4.1

      the term the experts use is grade inflation. It might not be technically accurate but that can be said of lots of things.

  5. tc 5

    Going to be interesting how these ‘experts’ spin their way into JK’s good books when he’s not giving them any material to work with.

    This is more than performance based pay for teachers but isolating ‘problem’ schools also so they can be dealt with……watch the league tables leak out just like Bennett targets those she dislikes.

  6. Blue 6

    I think you give JK too much credit, Eddie. National Standards isn’t about introducing performance pay for teachers. It’s actually not about anything.

    It was part of JK’s election promises, which were designed to appeal to the voters they’d whipped into a frenzy about ‘Nanny State’ and ‘political correctness’. Their aim was to run a few empty lines like ‘tough on crime’ and ‘get back to the three Rs in schools’ to establish their ‘common sense’ brand.

    National Standards was an easy do-nothing policy that would make it look like they were doing something while they actually did nothing. I don’t think they thought it would blow up in their faces like it has.

    • Lew 6.1

      Couldn’t agree less, Blue.

      National hope to finally put the walk-sock-and-cardigan-wearing fat-bottomed Labour-voting do-nothings (as they’ve consistently caricatured teachers) in their place. They’ve waited nine long years for the chance to turn the electorate against teachers, and this is their strategy.

      But they’ve picked the wrong fight, I think.


      • Lew 6.1.1

        It’s worth reading The Standard’s other favourite columnist on this topic, too.


      • Lew 6.1.2

        Incidentally, it’s giving Key too little credit which got NZ into this mess. Persisting with the myth that this is an ineffectual government without a real agenda is an excellent way of ensuring their victory in 2011.


  7. killinginthenameof 7

    Key will do well out of this. Of course grades are going to improve over the next few years, introducing testing on math and engish, while letting the rest go by the way side, if they introduced testing on the 1 through 5 times tables, you’d see improvement at them to, (at the expense of 6 – 10 of course).

    Interesting also to note the change in retohric from when NCEA was introduced. Back then standards based assessment was politically correct and the work of lennin, because it removed the requirement that 50% failed. Where has this gone? is it ok when they do it? surely the right should be calling for a ranking based system?

  8. I really don’t think it counts as Key doing something either but in politics people doing something isnt necessary to be elected. In fact it may even be counter-productive to the far more important goal. What is important is for people to know you are doing something. Spending millions on press is a perfect way to do that for him. One of the downsides to having democracy that people like him can get elected unfortunately. So long as it looks pleasing to the masses they don’t care about the substance. Most people never delve deep enough to find out. Especially not marginal voters. They have to be told whether he is doing something or not.

    On performance based pay I would say that is what the rich right parents want in terms of outcome.

    They send their kids to the best schools and want that incentive pay to draw better teachers there. They want their kids to go and be doctors, lawyers, businessmen regardless of their ability to do it so teaching to the test is what they want because then their kids get the best grades for minimum intelligence and effort.

    Horrible for everyone who isn’t in that top elite and for having a broad society but those negative effects aren’t necessarily negative for everyone.

    • JWard 8.1

      i have working the private schools – we often got paid slightly LESS not more than our public school counterparts as we were un-unionized and had to wait politely for parity whenever there was a pay increase…

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    This 20 percent of school leavers being illiterate business.

    Where’s that from? I’m not disputing it. Just wondering what it actually means.

    this is interesting pdf

    According to that, (page 4) our adult literacy is improving, not declining. So how does that work if we have a crisis with school leavers? Or has it suddenly collapsed since 06 when that data was collected?

  10. Arts 10

    Yes, the 30% figure from the Education Review Office was a misinterpretation – the correct figure was 10% not using the assessment data. 10% is not an excessive number of teachers, assuming that the ERO’s view of the world is valid.

    And this is where I have a really big problem. The “independent” Education Review Office is itself a highly political animal, and reports I have read regarding my kids’ schools have looked misleading, and had poor predictive qualities!

    Its all politics, politics, politics. Education is an art form, not a science.

  11. prism 11

    1 February 2010 at 10:24 am

    Monday 1/2 This am on Nat Radio there were useful discussions on the new school testing regime and its value and effects.

    Speaking to a teacher I know about it she says that her school already uses good assessment systems like AsTLe (Assessment tools for Teaching and Learning) and PAT (Progressive Achievement Tests). The AsTLe test is one the children do on computers and gives them direct feedback and indicates where they are performing poorly. So at a considerable saving of the $26m all schools could have been updated to this.

    This teacher says that a big problem is providing the social backup for needy children, it is this and families struggling in their lives that is the biggest barrier to improving NZ children’s learning and success.

    Apparently the problem with some of the reporting to parents is that it is in jargon such as deciles, percentiles etc which isn’t useful plain English to us all. The problem then is that individual schools are using inappropriate reporting and that is a result of government not requiring schools to use approved reporting systems and insisting they are in plain English.

    The change from Dept of Education management to giving too much autonomy to localised school boards under Tomorrows Schools has then brought about this more costly delayed response by government to set reasonable national requirements on reporting.

    This is a link to a relevant piece on educational standards in NZ Herald 1 April 2007 “education test” see below when I’ve set up the hyperlink.
    Quotes from it Cathy Wylie, a chief researcher with the Council for Education Research, said
    “The main problem was resources, she said. “You can have standards but if you don’t have the means and the capacity in the schools to work with kids to improve their learning then the standards don’t mean anything.’
    Lyn Avery, principal of Glen Taylor School in Glen Innes, says her students were doing extremely well after two years using the AsTLe system of assessment.
    Before 2004, the decile one school was criticised by the ERO for low student achievement. But in 2005, after introducing AsTLe, all students learned more in a year than they previously had in two.
    “The kids really do engage really strongly with the information that the assessments give them. What we’ve noticed is it particularly engages Maori children It gives them a greater sense of responsibility: ‘these are my results, I need to start work on this’.’

  12. prism 12

    Informed comments on educational tests in NZ and effect on children’s learning.
    NZ Herald 1 April 2007
    education test

    Also current piece 4 Feb 2010 “Standards’ $36m ‘won’t go far'” in the Education section.

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