National standards aren’t

Written By: - Date published: 8:03 am, June 3rd, 2015 - 67 comments
Categories: schools - Tags: , ,

National standards are all about producing league tables. Never mind that league tables are a terrible idea, the data that the tables are based on are (still) nonsense. From RNZ this morning:

National standards results ‘lack dependability’

The latest in a series commissioned by the Education Ministry said teachers’ judgements of how well children were performing against the standards still lacked dependability.

The National Standards School Sample Monitoring and Evaluation Project has been running since 2010, and the latest report covered 15,838 children at 100 schools in 2013.

The study compared the maths judgements of teachers at 39 of the schools with those made for the same students using a computer-based system being developed to help teachers make more accurate national standards’ decisions.

It found 60 percent of the teachers’ judgements differed from those reached using the Progress and Consistency Tool; 40 percent of the teachers’ judgements were higher and 20 percent lower.

The teachers had decided 352 children were at the maths standard for their age, but the tool suggested only 28 percent of those children deserved that rating.

The report said between 30 and 40 percent of children got different results from year to year, and intermediate schools were less likely to rate Year 7 and 8 children at or above the standards than primary schools.

The previous report in the series, published in 2013, also said teachers’ judgements lacked dependability.

Nothing has changed from 2012 then.

So we have ongoing pressures to narrow the curriculum from both national standards and funding cuts. And we have league tables which are both unreliable and damaging. Great work Nats, great work.

67 comments on “National standards aren’t”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    It seems insane, until you spot the disgusting gutter profit motive behind it.

    This is why the word scum so often follows the word Tory.

  2. coaster 2

    From a parents perspective the reports you get under national standards are horrible.
    Im not sure about other parents, but please bring back the old reports that include effort, and comments from the teachers. i dont give a toss about a rating system at primary school, i want to see if my kids are trying and if there are areas we can help on at home.

    • Chch_chiquita 2.1

      Our school has both (primary and intermediate). There is this ridiculous bar showing where they are relative to the national standards (and I shocked the teachers at intermediate when I said I don’t care about where the dot is as long as the dot keeps on moving; at primary they already know I’m crazy 😉 ) but there are always written comments from the teachers. I thought that’s how all schools do.

  3. mpledger 3

    National didn’t want national tests because it was too expensive so they went with teacher judgement. Than when teacher judgements were all over the place (as they were told they would be) they then try and and make some computer system over ride teacher judgements. As if a computer can have a better view of a child than a teacher can see every day.

    It just looks like all their attempts to fix a problem that never was is just creating more and more problems and is just creating more and more obfuscation.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      It’s because it’s the government trying to do it; the free market would be much more efficient. The thing to do is to contract out all testing and assessment services to party donors the private sector.

      • Picard101 3.1.1

        Dear god no!!!! It has been an absolute disaster in the US. It just can never be an option here.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1.1

          It’s the plan. It’s always been the plan. I think teachers need to start planning for serious strike action, and the rest of us have to think very carefully about how best we can defend New Zealand children from the National Party.

    • red-blooded 3.2

      Actually, National DID want national tests, but these were absolutely (and correctly) opposed by the NZEA (the primary teachers’ union). Anywhere they use national tests they have been shown to narrow the curriculum, lead to teaching to the test (learning should drive assessment, not the other way around) and often morph into a mechanism for performance pay, giving further incentives for teachers to narrow down and focus on the tests.

      Theoretically, primary teachers use “naturally occurring evidence”. For this to be effective, there needs to be a massive input in terms of professional development, resources and exemplars and ongoing moderation systems. It took years of training and learning for those of us in the secondary system to get up to speed with internal assessment for NCEA, and there is significant oversight from full-time moderators. There has been nothing like this level of input for primary teachers. It’s hardly surprising that there’s significant leeway in how the standards are interpreted.

      Even if implemented properly, national standards were never going to be the silver bullet that they were presented as. As it is, they are little more than a (bad) joke.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1

        “Implemented properly” – there isn’t a proper way to administer a bad idea. International best practice is for no testing until the end of high school.

  4. JanM 4

    Narrowing the curriculum like this is a sure-fire method of dumbing it down.
    Now ask yourselves; why would a government want to do that, do you think? Whose interests are served by dumbing us down?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      It isn’t the dumbing down that makes a profit: it’s the printing and marking of all those test forms, and the endless “research” that must be paid for, and the party donations that are tax deductible.

      And the private prisons to house the results.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      +1

      National must know that they’re destroying our education system and so we need to ask just who they’re destroying it for.

      • JanM 4.2.1

        Exactly – it’s much easier to distract the semi-educated with ‘bread and circuses’ while you get on with ‘sheepgate’, housing crisis et al

  5. Chooky 5

    Great Post….and no surprises here…this jonkey nact government is both incompetent and destructive of New Zealand’s education system

    ….I wonder how long it will be before there a mass demonstrations in the streets…this jonkey nact government is failing new Zealanders on so many levels

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      They’re not incompetent – they’re working to a well oiled plan to shift the ownership of NZ in to the hands of the rich and it’s working perfectly.

      • Molly 5.1.1

        +100.

        Alongside this project has been the increase in private school funding.

        Not only destroying public education, but making sure private schools are further enriched.

  6. People who think National are incompetent should think again.

    Yes, if you are talking about their supposed desire to make New Zealand a better place, yes they are definitely incompetent. But don’t you see a smoke screen here – a smelly eddying mass of toxic smoke caused by – to quote Helen Clarks concession speech on election night 2008 – throwing New Zealand onto the “bonfire of right wing politics”.

    And if you can see that smokescreen, then no, they are not incompetent. Behind that smokescreen is a well thought out plan being executed, and as Draco and others have indicated, it is working beautifully.

  7. georgy 7

    This study commissioned by the MoE clearly demonstrates the problem of national standards that were articulated as far back as 2009 – and is developing as predicted. The study is interesting – the differences between the so called ‘tool’ and the teachers judgements points to both being inadequate for this purpose. I would place more reliability on the teachers judgements however, but such judgements cannot be used in a statistical manner hence the unreliability as collated data.

    The whole debacle around national standards has done huge damage to the education system and a critical point has probably been met whereby the ‘system’ cannot go back. A new government will have a big challenge on its hands sorting this all out and resetting the curriculum into a wholistic learner oriented one.

  8. georgy 8

    I disagree Robert Glennie – your argument is based on the notion that they know what they are doing, why , and executing this really well. The incompetence tag arises because they don’t know the effect of their plan – the example around national standards in schools is probably one of many and the damage is significant. Education has lost its mojo because of this bullshit policy. This makes them incompetent.

  9. georgy 9

    I do agree with the comment that national know they are destroying the education system with their policies. They are designed to not work. This is a stage before privatisation – let it “break down” then privatise because its not working properly. This is happening across all sectors – the recent social bonds is a perfect example. And who was leading the implementation of the education policies initially – Tolley. And where is she now? And what were her comments regarding the demise of ‘Relationships NZ’ ?

    • tc 9.1

      Don’t forget leaky school buildings, novopay, charter schools, funding private schools over the recommended levels whilst cutting public school funding, voting down ‘feed the kids’ etc etc

      it’s been a multi faceted campaign to break a working system, undermine the teachers union and plunge us down the rankings

      • Chooky 9.1.1

        …and they chopped Continuing Education!…and gave the money to private schools

  10. RedLogix 10

    If a corporate CEO stood up and said ‘I don’t believe in picking winners, and I want to shrink the size of my company’ …. how long do you think this person would last?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1

      Picking winners doesn’t work, so that’d go down quite well.

  11. ropata 11

    National hates teachers and wants to crush their union

  12. dv 12

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11459426

    The headline is
    Education Minister to launch report criticising primary teachers for letting children down.

    Where the article says that
    ‘The report criticised the introduction of changes to maths teaching with the Numeracy Project, introduced in 2000.

    So the teachers are doing what the curriculum asks for.

    So its the curruclum is letting the kid down not the teachers.!

    • john 12.1

      So the 30% of teachers who can’t even add basic fractions (as per your link) has nothing to do with it?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1.1

        Yes, it would be great if our education system followed international best practice. Underfunding precludes that though, not to mention the gutter scum trying to turn it into a cash cow.

        • Tracey 12.1.1.1

          Surely today the government will find the funding to turn all public schools into charter schools, to immediately “solve” the problem? With Charter schools allegedly NOT getting more funding than public schools it should be effortless.

        • john 12.1.1.2

          When the current govt came in total education funding was $9.551B.

          Adjusted for inflation since then, funding should now be up 11% to $10.629B.

          However it has been increased 36% or $3.5B to $13.021B.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1.1.2.1

            Yes, millions of tax-payer dollars are being wasted on destructive right-wing fantasies. Think what could be achieved if policy wasn’t being sold to party donors.

            • john 12.1.1.2.1.1

              Ah – I can sense the fear.

              Not fear that Charter Schools will fail.

              But fear that they will be successful.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Charter schools here will be as successful as they are in the US, UK, and a few other countries. In other words, they’ll be a general failure. Worse than normal public schools except for the occasional shining light and cost more.

                That’s what always happens under privatisation.

                • john

                  There are about as many different types of charter schools as there are brands of cars.

                  Which is why it’s so nonsensical to label charter schools good or bad, for the sole reason they have the name “charter” in front of them.

                  A large number of charter schools in the USA are performing well above government schools.

                  Others are performing the same or lower, but are taking all the students who are failing at govt schools.

                  The stupidity of saying they won’t do well simply for then reason they are private, can be seen by amount of money that people are prepared to spend to send their kids private schools.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    If we’re comparing between countries, why are you looking in the wrong place? If it’s an honest comparison, you’d be trying to move our education system towards international best practice, not away from it.

                    Only someone who was arguing in extreme bad faith, or utterly ignorant, would advocate aping the USA.

                    Which is it? Are you ignorant, or lying?

                    PS: if all you want is a better education system than the USA, we already had that.

                    • john

                      So you want to copy the top countries – China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea and Japan?

                      Finland was top of the PISA rankings in 2003 but has been slipping ever since.

                      In the latest PISA tests, China is now top in all three fields – maths, science and reading.

                      They get 80% of their children to do extra classes at night and in the weekends.

                      One of the most successful parts of the Chinese education system has been getting staff from successful schools to help manage struggling schools.

                      Which is exactly what our govt proposed last year.

                      Interesting that this successful and proven strategy was slammed by the opposition.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      So, you were lying when you started making comparisons with the USA.

                      Why were you lying, John? Is it a perfect expression of everything you embody, or what?

                    • john

                      What are you raving about? You’re not making any sense.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Only someone who was arguing in extreme bad faith, or utterly ignorant, would advocate aping the USA.

                      So I asked you:

                      Which is it? Are you ignorant, or lying?

                      Then you suddenly started spouting PISA scores. Therefore you are aware of NZ’s PISA scores prior to 2008.

                      Therefore you are engaging in this discussion in bad faith.

                      Why?

                    • john

                      I get it now – you ARE raving.

                      You think emulating highly successful schools is a bad idea – NOT judged on how well they perform – but simply because they are from the “wrong” country.

                      That’s as stupid as judging a person as good or bad not because of what they do, but because of their race.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Yep, there’s another bad faith argument.

                      It presupposes that the US Charter schools were outperforming the NZ equivalent. Whereas they were only outperforming the US public sector, which is being crippled by standardised testing.

                      Tell me, are the NZ charter schools required to follow US best practice, or not? If not, were you arguing in bad faith then too or just flailing wildly?

                      Either you’re very very stupid or very very mendacious, John.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Whereas they were only outperforming the US public sector, which is being crippled by standardised testing.

                      Most US charter schools aren’t even doing that. Charter schools in the UK are actually doing worse. Same goes for the ones in Sweden.

                      As I said up-thread charter schools are, overall, a failure.

                    • john

                      A significant number of US charter schools are performing significantly better than govt schools, particularly in poor, urban and black areas.

                      Some are performing at a similar rate, and some are worse.

                      It’s also important to note that they often take the students that don’t fit in at the state schools.

                      But if children at a charter school perform significantly better than they did at a state school has no relevance to you – if a school of any type has the name “charter” attached to it, it is evil and must be destroyed.

                      It’s a brainless cult-like ideology.

                      If a type of charter school dosn’t work, don’t use it (they’re voluntary you know).

                      If it does work, great. And obviously you are not worried about them failing, but succeeding.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      John, we already covered this: where they are succeeding, it is according to the spectacularly low benchmark that is the USA.

                      Please stop lying about my position. You’ve already lied about the facts, and we don’t want other readers to conclude that your ethics are lower than dogshit, now do we, no matter how obvious a conclusion it is.

                      As for the beneficiaries of your lies, there’s a possibility they will fail despite the massive extra funding they receive, and when they do, I hope one of the affected families moves in next door to you, because I think you deserve to suffer the consequences of your actions. I call it “personal responsibility”.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      @John

                      A significant number of US charter schools are performing significantly better than govt schools, particularly in poor, urban and black areas.

                      Some are performing at a similar rate, and some are worse.

                      You, due to your ideology that private is always better, really fail to understand wasted effort and broken promises.

                      Charter schools were all supposed to be better, not just 17%. Then the majority of the rest are worse off and the remaining, IIRC, 36% are just the same. That’s a waste of time, money and resources. Resources that could have been put to making our public school system better and do better for our education system.

                      If a type of charter school dosn’t work, don’t use it (they’re voluntary you know).

                      No they’re not voluntary because the government are paying them whether we want them or not.

      • dv 12.1.2

        Are “basic” fractions in the curriculum?

        I note also the comment was about beginning teachers, not experienced ones.

        My comment was about the headline.

        IF there is a problem with teacher skills needed to teach the curriculum, then fix those skill.

  13. john 13

    dv asks “Are “basic” fractions in the curriculum?”

    Are you serious?

    • dv 13.1

      Yes i am serious.
      What does the curriculum say about fractions?
      Not what you think it says or should say.

  14. georgy 14

    Fractions are most definitely part of the curriculum

  15. georgy 15

    NZC Maths and Statistics level 3

    •Know how many tenths, tens, hundreds, and thousands are in whole
    numbers.
    • Know fractions and percentages in everyday use.

    • dv 15.1

      Thanks
      Does that imply or say anything about calculations with fractions?

      • john 15.1.1

        The NZ Mathematics curriculum says children should be able to do basic additions of fraction by the end of year 3 (i.e. by age 8).

        And we have 30% of new teachers can’t do basic additions of fractions after 13 years of schooling AND a few years at university.

        • dv 15.1.1.1

          ‘And we have 30% of new teachers can’t do basic additions of fractions after 13 years of schooling AND a few years at university.

          Can you link to that 2010 report?

          • john 15.1.1.1.1

            I don’t have the report, but the information came from your link.

            It shows why National Standards are so important.

            We’ve got children being taught a whole range of different strategies in maths. And it works really well when they already have the fundamental basics.

            The problem is for a lot of kids it will never work because they are not competent in fundamental adding multiplication etc, to start with.

            So without knowing where children are against the National Standards, a teacher won’t know if the maths strategies they are teaching are a total waste of time on some children.

            • dv 15.1.1.1.1.1

              ‘I don’t have the report, but the information came from your link.
              Fair enough

              I think the 2010 report about the teacher maths skills iis important to read, mainly because the reference comes from a right wing think tank.
              That does not automatically debunk the report, but it means it needs closer examination

              For example
              What is the size of the sample?
              What was the methodology?
              What were the range of the problems?
              ETC

              RE
              National standards are neither national nor standard.

              I would be very wary about judging any success on the basis of National Standards as they are currently as they are pretty meaningless.

              How are 30% of the beginning teacher who (are reported ) can’t do basic fractions going to make the appropriate judgement re the National Standard?

              • john

                Or any assessment on anything.

                And even if they do get it right, will they be able to add up all the marks correctly?

                • dv

                  Cheap shot John. Unbecoming of you.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    John is the embodiment of malice. National Standards don’t work, and fly in the face of good education practice.

                    John hates teachers, that much is evident. I expect he didn’t get very good grades.

                    • john

                      If there was a prize for getting the maximum number of things wrong in the shortest post, you’d have a good chance at winning.

                      Before National Standards schools had a whole range of different tests they could do, none of which could be compared directly to each other.

                      Or they could do none at all.

                      And they didn’t even have to report children’s progress to their parents if they didn’t couldn’t be bothered.

                    • dv

                      John
                      Do National Standard have a series of tests that are reliable and valid?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      National Standards don’t work, and fly in the face of good education practice.

                      Those bits I got right.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                The report itself says that this finding is consistent with the teacher intake 15 years ago, and points out that “aside from the University of Otago, none of the providers of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) require students to meet a certain level of maths proficiency in order to graduate. ”

                So it’s a little more complex than the Herald’s spin.

  16. KJT 16

    I know lots of kids who “can’t do fractions”, but if you ask them to cut a pie into seven pieces!

  17. KJT 17

    The real aims of National’s “Education” policy.

    “If, the aims of National/ACT’s education policy were, genuinely, to to improve the learning, education and career choices for our children, including the ones that are failing at present, they would not be following policies which have signally failed to achieve any of these goals, anywhere else they have been tried.”

    “When you realise the real results of the polices that National, and ACT, want to introduce in other countries, you begin to see the real aims.
    A two tier education system.
    One tier, of private schools, entrenching wealth and privilege”.

    “Tier two. “Education factories” designed to teach the minimum, while making profits for private owners”.

    “When you see that the goal is to commercialise public education, regardless of education quality, and entrench the privileged, wealthy “class”, the seeming ineptitude and incompetence in “improving” “education” from National and ACT, makes sense.”

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