All available evidence and expert opinion suggests that National Standards, as the government intends to introduce them in our primary schools, won’t work. (If anyone is aware of evidence in support please cite it in comments!). As some wag put it, no matter how often you measure the pig, measuring it won’t make it fatter. National standards won’t raise educational achievement, they may actually do damage. Consider the international evidence:
Tests blamed for blighting children’s lives
Landmark study of primary schools calls for teachers to be freed of targets
Children’s lives are being impoverished by the government’s insistence that schools focus on literacy and numeracy at the expense of creative teaching, the biggest review of the primary school curriculum in 40 years finds today.
Consider the warnings of academics and the government’s own education advisor:
National standards ‘disaster’ feared
A top academic has told the government its controversial national standards system could be a disaster, warning it to block league tables, prevent teachers playing “devious games” with marking, and be prepared to dump the policy if it does not work. Professor John Hattie of Auckland University predicts that even with the changes he recommends, the system a key National policy will do little to raise student achievement.
Consider the opinions of the teaching professionals:
Principals boycott ‘sad day’
Principals boycotted the introduction of the Government’s national standards policy for primary schools, fearing the whole process will end in chaos.
Consider the evidence? The terrifying thing is that Key and Tolley appear to be evidence-blind. This has all the hallmarks of an ideological crusade, where evidence is irrelevant. I would have said that the same applied to all right-wing educational theorists, but there is one notable exception in the US (hat tip Dave Brown in comments). Take a bow Diane Ravitch:
Scholar’s School Reform U-Turn Shakes Up Debate
Diane Ravitch, the education historian who built her intellectual reputation battling progressive educators and served in the first Bush administration’s Education Department, is in the final stages of an astonishing, slow-motion about-face on almost every stand she once took on American schooling.
Once outspoken about the power of standardized testing, charter schools and free markets to improve schools, Dr. Ravitch is now caustically critical. She underwent an intellectual crisis, she says, discovering that these strategies, which she now calls faddish trends, were undermining public education. She resigned last year from the boards of two conservative research groups.
The fact that at least one conservative educationalist had a mind that was open enough to be changed by the evidence has given me renewed hope! Perhaps it isn’t too late for Key and Tolley after all. Perhaps we don’t have to condemn a generation of our children to the damaging consequences of this particular stupid faddish trend. Perhaps the NZEI should buy Ravitch a ticket, and get her on a plane here to talk some sense into our government. Before it is too late…