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Inflexible national standards labels kids failures

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, October 16th, 2012 - 51 comments
Categories: education - Tags:

Did you know that national standards must be completed in written form and there is no provision for extra time or oral answers from students (oops, sorry, ‘learners’ in Parata-speak) with disabilities? At high school and uni, if you have the need, you get these things. National’s stupid national standards have no such flexibility. Instead, they label you a failure.

13 year old school boy Adam Hodgson has written a poignant speech on how national standards has labelled him a failure:

One size does not fit all, especially if it comes to national standards.

Why? . . . Because they do not recognise people like me who learn differently.

I firmly believe that we should change the testing systems for national learning standards to accommodate the needs of people like me who have learning differences.

Dyspraxia is a condition that affects the planning of my movements and co-ordination. It means that sometimes brain messages take longer to transmit to my body. It does not affect my intelligence, but it can cause some difficulty in learning…..

So when I am sitting a written test the time that is given me is usually not enough, because I need longer to transmit the messages to make my body write the information down…..

I am below the national learning standard but does that mean I’m dumb? No, it doesn’t. It just means that the method of testing is not suited to me…..

What happens with me in tests is I don’t think I have enough time. I have the answers but I use up a lot of brain power trying to get it all down on paper in time. If it was verbal I would ace it!

I would probably be at the national standard or above.

For all the normal people out there (whatever normal is) be tolerant and understanding because for someone who learns differently it does not mean that they are dumb or stupid, it just means that they get to the answer in a different way.

There are people out there who do understand, but there are some who don’t.

I might not be the best speller or mathematician in the world but give me time, help me and be assured that I will give it my best.

So you can see it is possible for people with a learning difference to succeed. It takes hard work, understanding teachers, and supportive parents.

So just because the national standards say that you are failing certainly does not mean that you are a failure.

The only bit where I would disagree with Adam is where he says that this is the only thing about national standards we need to fix. In fact, this problem is symptomatic of the deeper fault with national standards – they are the educational equivalent of setting the high jump bar at PE at an arbitrary height and labeling any kids who don’t make it over, for whatever reason, failures.

It tells you nothing of real value, it doesn’t even tell you much about the distribution of ability to meet the arbitrary test because the grading is so grainy (just 5 ‘grades’), it isn’t moderated, and teachers’ marking varies widely.

51 comments on “Inflexible national standards labels kids failures”

  1. ianmac 1

    I know that lad and he has a clever and interesting take on the world. For him to cope with the Failure label is testament to his courage and the support of family and teachers. There are many for whom the failure label will just turn them off learning, and suffer denigration from others around them “Loser!” will be tossed around in spite of the Minister declaring that it won’t. Yeah Right!

  2. David H 2

    And what a pity that a bright mind like that is marked a failure, by a minister who is deaf to his needs? This is exactly why our education system needs an overhaul, and the exam part in particular need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Why should children be marked fail just because they don’t fit the system. It’s beyond me.

  3. tsmithfield 3

    I didn’t think it was about labelling anyone a failure.

    The point of standards is that it enables people who are struggling for whatever reason to be identified. Then their specific learning difficulties can be identified and addressed early, rather than later.

    • felix 3.1

      tsmithbot, you’re in the wrong thread. You were called in today to defend Key and Bennett over the MSD privacy breach. Interactions on this and other threads will not count toward billable hours.

    • karol 3.2

      Yes, because this government, with the proposed Charter Schools and other measures included in the same bill, are all about identifying students so they can control their behaviour and label them as criminals help them.
       

      Schools will have legal permission to seize students electronic devices, including possibly accessing text messages, if a new bill is passed into law.

    • Dv 3.3

      Hey TS.
      Obviously you do not know that schools, teachers already knew who are/was struggling.
      They have some very good tools, and have had for some years.
      NS do not add anything. They are neither national nor standard as they is no moderation.

    • ianmac 3.4

      tsmithfield. Failing to meet NS is exactly what NS demands and that is what children see on their school reports. What a pity that the Government will not detail the way that the system can help the group who need help. They just keep blaming teachers and demand more testing to find out that whicht was already known. By the way the figure of the so-called tail is 16% against the OECD average of 21%.

      • insider 3.4.1

        Reportig guidleliines explicitly state reports should be balanced and not just report non/achievement against standards. But parents also want clarity and honesty. And kids aren’t stupid either.

    • Georgy 3.5

      Teachers were well able to do that, and were doing that, long before national standards were introduced.

      National standards have one purpose – and it has nothing to do with student achievement.

    • OneTrack 3.6

      TS – But that is the problem. If the National Standards indicates that a school is not performing then questions may start to be asked, especially by those pesky people called “parents”. Oh for the good old days when we could just say “yes, yes, little Jimmy’s doing fine” and they would go away again. They wouldnt find out he was two years behind everybody else until Intermediate and then it would be someone elses problem. A problem hidden is a problem solved, I always say. Now they might say that the school down the road is doing much better for “some reason”. We might even have to reduce some of the more important subjects like kapa haka and “enviro” and planting a flower. I like kapa haka. I like flowers. I dont like reading and writing and maths. They are so conservative and reactionary.

  4. insider 4

    If he got ‘not achieved’ on a piece of work or a ‘seldom’ or ‘rarely’ on his report, would that be labelling him a failure?

    • ianmac 4.1

      Yes insider. He would be so labelled. Instead what should and does happen is that he be identified at a certain level and steadily make progress at his pace and thus gain ground. NS however would just reinforce the failed label.
      There are many children who do not flourish till much later than 5 or 6 year olds. Einstein for one. Most adults would find being labelled a failure, as a severe disincentive. I would.

      • insider 4.1.1

        If he is being labelled a failure that is the fault of the teacher then, because they control reporting and teh MoE guidelines are quite clear -“In order to avoid damaging a child’s engagement and motivation to learn, a report must not: imply fault or failure ”

        If teachers were managing to avoid labelling failure before, why are they suddenly incapable?

        • ianmac 4.1.1.1

          I think that Adam above was motivated to write his speech because the reporting required by the Minister must show his relationship to others in his age-group performance. But if other criteria is used, he might be performing well above.
          If a report “must not: imply fault or failure” how will the report show an accurate assessment against National Standards? Contradictory I would have thought – and counter productive.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    Addressing some of the comments above:

    I have two children who have had identified learning difficulties.

    In the case of one child, a teacher (in my opinion a very good one) noticed that he was having difficulty tracking from one line to the next when reading (when aged 7). I suspect this may have related to an eye operation he had when younger. He was sent to a specialist and given eye exercises that helped him immensly. However, the identification of his problem was due to a dilligent teacher who he was lucky to encounter. Otherwise his problem may never have been identified.

    In the case of my second son, he was diagnosed with dysphraxia and dyslexia in his second year of high school. Appropriate systems were put in place for him (the learning centre, reader/writer etc) and his school performance improved out of sight. But it would have been much better for him if his problems were identified at a much younger age.

    If national standards allow students with these sort of difficulties to be identified early, then great.

    • Dv 5.1

      >>If national standards allow students with these sort of difficulties to be identified early, then great.

      The IF is a huge if. The standard are poor tools because they are NOT moderated and rather crude.

      I very much doubt that standard will/would make a difference in you cases.

      The key statement was due to a dilligent teacher.

      • insider 5.1.1

        TS can discuss this in detail no doubt, but a diligent teacher noticed one and the other went unnoticed. Does that mean the latter’s teachers were less diligent? Should a kid’s future be solely dependent on that? An independent benchmark can provide the systemic opportunity for analysis and assessment outside the usual teacher-student relationship, so potentially removes the risk that can come from less than diligent teachers or schools.

        • Dv 5.1.1.1

          The NS is NOT an independent benchmark.

          The NS require the teacher to make a judgement against a ‘statement’.
          So you are still reliant on a judgment by the teacher of a pupil against a a non moderated tool.

      • ianmac 5.1.2

        Agreed DV. What parents think that NS would achieve is a long way from reality.

    • framu 5.2

      NS doesnt do this – all it asks is “does student X meet a non moderated standard?” It does nothing to figure out why and it does nothing to look for answers in and of itself.

      you still need someone to put two and two together and make the mental jump to spot the issue.

      A process that as your own experience shows already happened before NS was put in.

      So – considering that its actually having well trained and well resourced staff that will find and address issues such as the ones youve faced, that we already knew how many students were failing, that if you asked most teachers who in their class needed help they would tell you and that we already had well regarded systems in place to quantify student progress – can you explain how NS will change anything?

      Sure plenty of parents might have felt that they needed clearer information on their kids progress and sure some parents might have wanted info on how well a school performed – but as we already have the info in the form of school reports, parent teacher interactions, ERO reports, teacher moderation etc etc etc surely the answer is to adjust how the public interacts with and accesses the existing data and not to implement a slip shod parallel system to tell us what we already know.

    • Hilary 5.3

      There is no link between the NS and getting support. NZ might identify problems that observant parents and teachers have already noticed, but there is no guarantee that any specific help will result. Advisors have been cut, special ed assistance has been cut. This year there have already been many students turned down for reader writers and other exam assistance.

  6. Rogue Trooper 6

    Attitude: State Broad-Caster (One) Weekend gone;

    Downs Syndrome Man; Parents fought to prevent exclusion from mainstream schooling.
    Young Man was bullied for difference upon reaching High School and puberty related rubbish;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolescence (very Western construct)
    Now, a spiritually enlightened young adult, valued by his family, flatmates, employers and community
    (and the nation I should expect)
    Yet, the breeding n$z%s want to detect and predetermine chromosomal inheritance.
    Interestingly, it is highly probable that the middle-aged generation most at risk, choose to judge the breeding behaviours of the poor.

    Remember the Reich doctors….who they euthanized first?

    • McFlock 6.1

      Apart from the fact that Downs has a high co-morbidity rate for life-threatening conditions such as congenital heart malformations, some of which require advanced paediatric care from the moment of birth. It’d be nice to know that when the mother decides birth location and attendant care, wouldn’t it?

      • Rogue Trooper 6.1.1

        Life is Fatal: breeding, preference.
        Chromosomal difference not the only determinant of health needs
        Self-Interest, a determinant of breeding preference.

        Work with these People like I did for over four years, by choice, and we learn something.
        (not a supporter of engineered breeding; a supporter of organ donation and voluntary euthanasia, in fact, engineered breeding-I feel disgust)

        What greater thing can a man do than lay down his life for his friend?
        (this came up in shared study this A.M, and I am not alone in this opinion; guess you have to face death Repeatedly to understand; it is not that bad, and passing away is even more comfortable if you understand “the big picture”; only the body panics: master the body; work in progress)

        Survival? now there is a challenge (Deal to The Contrarian)
        🙂

        • McFlock 6.1.1.1

          oh joy. The person who screamed “eugenics” at the thought of antenatal screening for chromosomal abnormalities now declares that his personal fatalism overrules giving people the option of keeping their kids alive because death is not that bad.
               
          On a more abstract note (because eugenics is not the plan for screening), if death is not so bad why is eugenics a problem? 

          • Rogue Trooper 6.1.1.1.1

            no wonder The Contrarian rides rough-shod over you; Assumptions, assumptions, assumptions. (do you drink alcohol while you type?)

            Choose Death

            • PlanetOrphan 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Being a life positive Man that has faced death since the age of one, I’d like too say ….
              “Choose life bud”.

              Keep it up (Death,Death,Death) and I’ll surely explain why.

              No offense but STFU bud.

            • McFlock 6.1.1.1.1.2

              Assumptions?
                   
              You went from opposing chromosomal screening as nazi eugenics in one comment to saying that death’s not that bad when it was pointed out that such screening can save lives.
                 
              Make up your mind. 

    • Populuxe1 6.2

      Downs Syndrome Man; Parents fought to prevent exclusion from mainstream schooling.

      Ouch, the spin! It is entirely possible that he had functional educational needs that mainstreaming simply could not supply. School is not daycare for entitled parents who think they know more than professional educators.

      Young Man was bullied for difference upon reaching High School and puberty related rubbish;
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolescence (very Western construct)
      Now, a spiritually enlightened young adult, valued by his family, flatmates, employers and community
      (and the nation I should expect)

      Oh Jayzuz – Logical fallacy: everything western is BAD, open another bottle of whine!!! And bullying is certainly not exclusive to the west. Some communities in the west very rarely experience bullying, and on the other hand in some tribal cultures if you don’t conform to a niche in the hierarchy you will end bullied and driven out. Get over yourself.

      Yet, the breeding n$z%s want to detect and predetermine chromosomal inheritance.
      Interestingly, it is highly probable that the middle-aged generation most at risk, choose to judge the breeding behaviours of the poor.

      Yes, because every family can endure expensive medical burdens or put up with watching the incurable suffering of their children, or enjoy worrying about their children’s futures should they survive the parents. There is a world of difference between screening for serious hereditary diseases and invoking Godwin’s Law.
      There is no man that does not suffer ill;
      Man buries children, and begets yet more,
      And dies himself. Men are distressed at this,
      Committing earth to earth. But Fate decrees
      That life be garnered like the ripened grain,
      That one shall live and one shall pass from life.
      What need to grieve at this, which Nature says
      Must be the constant cycle of all life?
      In what must be there’s naught that man need dread.
      – Plutarch
       

      • Rogue Trooper 6.2.1

        You will have to do better than that. Thank God for the Posters and advanced commentators.
        🙂

  7. Rogue Trooper 7

    Furthermore;
    Democracy and Socialism are a means to an end, not the end in itself.

    -Nehru

    Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.

    -Mao Tse-tung

    Socialism can only arrive by bicycle

    -Jose Antonio Viera Gallo

    Next (ad hominum)?

    or is there just a Popular vacuum?

    • Bless ya bud, no vacuum here, just updated.

    • Populuxe1 7.2

      Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.
      -Mao Tse-tung

       
      You do realise Mao only said that to lure his rivals out into the open, at which point he then exterminated them.

      • McFlock 7.2.1

        not quite my understanding, but close.
        My gist was that they had just come out of the wars and were still filled with the revolutionary belief that they were heroes of the people and everyone loved them, so the different perspectives would be “you are great leaders, I support you, and I have a great idea for seed planting btw”. Worked a treat for a wee while until they started getting “um, do you guys have to be such dicks?”  So it was back to beating and shooting peasents to follow the plan, like the emperors before them.
                
        Not so much “grand conspiracy” as “revolutionary naivety”.

  8. This is a really sad article, what happened too “Every New Zealander deserves an education”?

    I’d personally have no problem with Adam Hodgson reading the exam 30mins before he sits it.
    And if he needs more time, he’s should get it, You know what you know, sprinting too the finish isn’t the only path.

    What else could a civilised person do to help these people?

    Like I’ve said before about other ministers in Government this is “High School” at best.

    It’s taken them four years too come up with this Crap,
    and they get all “Offended” when everyone looks at them Blankly and calls them on it.

    Delusional, Unqualified, Lame, Unresearched people are running this country.
    (And they are SORRY about that … aye Paula/John/Gerry/Hekia/John/…)

  9. OneTrack 9

    Adam is right. National Standards dont label students failures. Everybody understands that except the teachers unions.

  10. prism 10

    ONE TRACK your name is so descriptive of your brain pattern. Teacher unions are valuable in keeping the standards of respect in the teaching profession high and they can then look down on you and your petty pompous comments.

    As for NATSTandards, classrooms are being ‘schooled’ in what they need to know to succeed at this dumbing-down device.

    • OneTrack 10.1

      Yeah who really wants to kids to learn reading, writing and maths? Not the teachers or the left apparently. They might grow up,get a good job and not be holden to the state to look after them. Oh the horror.

      Good use of abusive ad hominem though. Standard lefty tactic 101 if I am not mistaken. Why does following Marx seem to make peope so nasty?

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        Yeah who really wants to kids to learn reading, writing and maths? Not the teachers or the left apparently.

        And yet it’s only the RWNJs that attack education such as NACT have done with their enforced and useless National Standards.

  11. Georgy 11

    Most of the discussion that actually refers to national standards in this thread, shows very little understanding of how national standards work.

  12. It’s not his fault being labelled a failure.Teachers should be capable in managing labelled failure before to avoid instances such as this.

    • Dv 12.1

      >>It’s not his fault being labelled a failure.Teachers should be capable in managing labelled failure before to avoid instances such as this.

      Yes true, BUT it is made MUCH MUCH more difficult by mandated ‘standards’ with the criteria of

      well below the standard
      below the standard
      at the standard
      above the standard

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