National standards aren’t

Written By: - Date published: 9:32 am, March 16th, 2012 - 34 comments
Categories: education, national, schools - Tags: ,

National standards have been imposed on schools against expert advice, against international experience, and against considerable opposition. The government can bully schools into the appearance of compliance. But they can’t make a flawed and unworkable scheme workable. They can’t stop the perverse and damaging incentives that standardised testing creates. And they can’t stop some teachers from doing what they think is best for the education of their kids.

So the news is breaking that national “standards” are nothing of the kind:

Study finds schools are setting own standards

A report looking at six diverse schools from around the country has revealed schools are struggling to keep up with demands under the system. It also shows at least one school has lowered its students’ achievement target so that it did not look bad if the set target was not reached.

The Research, Analysis and Insight into National Standards project – commissioned by the education sector union, the Educational Institute – is a three-year study led by Waikato University professor Martin Thrupp. It showed schools were interpreting National Standards in different ways, taking into account factors within their own community such as socio-economic status, location and curriculum development.

One school had refused to use the category “below” when informing parents of their child’s progress because, it said, it unfairly labelled them as failures. Another school had gone to the extreme measure of lowering its school achievement target. …

In contrast to “Seagull School”, staff at another school, dubbed “Cicada School”, were cutting back its curriculum in order to get students up to National Standards levels. … In a newsletter, the school told parents: “The curriculum is going to become very narrow. If everybody’s jobs are now dependent on making significant improvement in achievement … people are going to focus only on reading, writing and maths.

“Curriculum areas such as PE, music and art are likely to be squeezed out. Those things that many students enjoy and most of us see as important in an education system will be given a reduced status.” …

Perry Rush, chairman of the Boards Taking Action Coalition which believes there are numerous flaws in National Standards, said the study confirmed that National Standards was a policy of forced compliance.

“Last year, the ministry decided to ignore the clamour from the education sector regarding these flawed standards and I think it’s no surprise that this study shows that schools are conforming in name only,” he said.

There is other reporting of the Thrupp report here and here.

Hey National – time to put an end to this fiasco and an end to the standards before they do any more damage. Use the perfectly adequate existing methods of assessment and reporting. Have confidence in our world-class primary education system and the (remarkably cost-effective) results that it produces. Stop damaging kids – just because you don’t want to be seen to back down.

34 comments on “National standards aren’t”

  1. Hate to say we told you so.
    Actually I love to say it.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.1

      Yes, add this to the long list of National policies that were predicted to be total and abject failures by everyone credible, and lo and behold, the predictions came true.

      You’d think they’d be embarrassed by the utter incompetence of everything they have ever done.

      • shreddakj 1.1.1

        I think their actual end-game is being achieved. It’s just the lines they sell to the public that are failures. Unless they are actually incompetent and think these policies are actually going to help regular citizens.

        • bbfloyd 1.1.1.1

          embarrassment is for everyone else, not sociopaths…..

          • McFlock 1.1.1.1.1

            Now now, not all of them are evil sociopaths. Some are fucking morons who possibly genuinely believed their own bullshit. Tolley could well go to her grave convinced that National Standards would have been brilliant, but the teachers’ unions sabotaged them.

            • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.1.1.1.1.1

              The National Party’s long, long tale of underachievement.

              • Rusty Shackleford

                There are morons and sociopaths on both ends of the spectrum which is why we shouldn’t let any of them control something so important. I remember the rural school reform under Trevor Mallard being pretty unpopular and unsuccessful.

  2. happynz 2

    In contrast to “Seagull School”, staff at another school, dubbed “Cicada School”, were cutting back its curriculum in order to get students up to National Standards levels. … In a newsletter, the school told parents: “The curriculum is going to become very narrow. If everybody’s jobs are now dependent on making significant improvement in achievement … people are going to focus only on reading, writing and maths.

    This is what happens. I’ve seen it in schools in countries that are mad keen on ‘standards’. If a teacher’s job security is dependent on students’ performance in certain areas, the curriculum indeed would become narrow. In the worst case, students could be fed the answers to exams so as to maintain the illusion of ‘standards’ being met.

    • shreddakj 2.1

      That’s exactly what happens in a lot of schools around the states with Bush’s “No Child Left Behind”.

      • Maggie May 2.1.1

        Presidenrt Obama has already officially disbanded the “No child left behind” national standards in America as it has proven to be a failure in children’s education.

        In fact I watched a clip on CNN where school children were themselves starting a partition against 40 children in each classroom as they feel their education has suffered greatly since it’s introduction of “no child left behind” national standards.

        But then again it is very clear John Key is not interested in educating all our young, he seems to think only “rich bitch” kids should get an education so they can be the ruling class over the surfs.

        They do not seem to have asked themselves yet, why on earth would these surfs want to create wealth for these educated people when there is nothing in it for them other than a below the cost of living wage.

        Wonder what will happen when they finally realise the surfs arn’t interested in creating their wealth for them.

    • Shane Gallagher 2.2

      “students could be fed the answers to exams so as to maintain the illusion of ‘standards’ being met.”

      That is, in fact, what happens in the US and the UK. You impose a set of “rules” and “targets” and people game the system in order to win. It is bloody-mionded game-theory based neo-liberalism.

    • Rusty Shackleford 2.3

      This is certainly my experience in the standards mad Republic Of Korea. Every eight weeks around mid and end term exams my classes are canceled so the students can have ‘test prep’ with their subject teachers. It isn’t a covert thing. It’s pretty explicit that they are being fed the answers.

      All of the exams are multi-choice as well. They do zero project work. I taught essay writing to a large group of teachers during the winter vacation. The ability to write a simple precis of a short article was nigh on non-existent. They admitted that it was the case in their native language as well.

      Moral of the story; it’s safe to ignore Korea’s supposed superiority in educational attainment.

  3. Roger 3

    Not exactly a surprise, even John Hattie warned that this was going to happen as well as various groups interested in childrens education that actually have any expertise. This is a sad time to say I told you so since a world class education system is under attack and children are being used as collateral in what is effectively an ego trip by a few idiots with their hands on the levers.

  4. Wouldn’t it be better, given N.C.E.A. doesn’t work terribly well either – I never could see the need for it – if New Zealand were to go back to the old tried and true School Certificate/Sixth Form Certificate/University Bursary, with a few modifications?

      • McFlock 4.1.1

        Agreed.
           
        Three consecutive years of “one shot to pass in 3 hours or ruin your life” stress should be left in the dustbin of history, along with the 11+

        • shreddakj 4.1.1.1

          I did NCEA, I think I was in the second or third group of students to do it, and while I had some criticisms of the system there is no way I would have been happy with being shaped to a bell-curve.

        • RobertM 4.1.1.2

          Even for a nervous little nerd like me, SC in the 1970s wasn’t so bad. But in reality SC like NCEA was too easy for the bright who in many cases had to make little effort and impossible in English and Maths for the bottom 40%. My parent’s were in many ways not as conservative as me and my father believed the SC English syllabus in the 1970s was inapproprite and impossible for the low streams and had to be replaced by something else and in reality that SC, English was little more than an intelligence test in which the teachers effort made little or no difference, I would say that wa true for half the pupils.
          In terms of my own English which some criticise on the Standard , I would say both my parents were secondary school English teachers, my mother a specialist reading teacher. My father had a first in English from Victoria, Wgtn, by mother a good second. When I was at primary school in the l960s look and say was at its height and in that period and 70s there was the least emphasis on grammar and spelling. In my case over the last decade the issues have been magnified by poor eyesight problems and often composing on time or pay limited computers.
          Essentially my mother used whatever method of reading teaching would get the best results for a pupil be in phonics or look and say. But in my case,, my mother and other teachers in the early l960s used look and say to the maximum degree, with only a very minimal phonics correction ability, to maximise a certain type of intelligence with a very considerable trade off in less gramatical or spelling ability. This in some ways gave me an advantage , but it became less so in the 21C with more emphasis on what mid level employers wanted and the growing importance of the internet and computing which being middle aged I never achieved more than the ability to get thru on even as an honours student in 2006. Also the professional journalsim and commentary I did in the 1980s was often edited by four or five editors and family members with IQs in the 130s and a great deal of my work also went thru word processing and correction by professional secretaries and professional secretaries , and this ceased to by the case in the 21C.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.3

          Yeah easy to say McFlock, except males are adversely affected in situations where the sole focus is internal assessment.

          Ask any law or medical faculty, since the change in high school exam systems a few years back the boys have a much harder time being competitive with the girls and have a much reduced confidence in academic settings than even 10 years ago.

          • McFlock 4.1.1.3.1

            I tend to exam better than internals. But I also burned out in school and didn’t make the cut for UE (although did very well in SC).
                  
            My impression of male students at university (and recollection from when I was doing educ stats) is that many of them were less focused and less prepared than their female colleagues. A significant block of female students seem to arrive in town earlier, focus on classes earlier, and often have caregivers in town in the first few days to help them settle in. They also tend to hold a grudge against disciplinarians longer than male students, as an aside (but sly bottle-throwing at the source of their displeasure was less common than from male students). Personally I think that part of the issue is that education of females transitioned to empowerment and collaborative encouragement several years ago, whereas I think a few of the boys’ schools and teachers are still in the rugby-and-entitlement mentality. A significant block of male students haven’t yet figured out that they now have to work for some stuff in life, and there’s some shit that dad can’t get them out of. 
                 
            But gender disparities in educational achievement could even be down to the lack of male role models in education faculty since Peter Ellis. Blaming it on a lack of exams seems to be a bit precious.
                  
             

          • Vicky32 4.1.1.3.2

            Yeah easy to say McFlock, except males are adversely affected in situations where the sole focus is internal assessment.

            My son would disagree with you about that! He and his guy friends all did as well as the girls around them. He knew boys who didn’t do as well, but told me that they were simply lazy – and I believe him – he knows much more about that than I do (I went to an all-girls school in the days of School C., and I did well, and I had uneducated parents, RobertM.)

        • Bored 4.1.1.4

          Fekk Macker, I excelled at both of those: here I am as living proof that they look impressive at the time but mean Fanny Adams (especially if you are a non conformist)….

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      NCEA works fine – it’s why we have a world class education system. If we went back to the old system our education system would get worse and our children would suffer.

    • Vicky32 4.3

      Wouldn’t it be better, given N.C.E.A. doesn’t work terribly well either –

      I beg to differ, it works perfectly well.  My son sat NCEA level 3 a few years ago, and now is working as a nurse after successfully completing his degree course. No problems at all!

  5. The modifications I was thinking of would be to ensure all courses have a component of internal assessment so that it does not come down to three hours in November. I was thinking courses could all have tests at the end of each subject or mid year exams that account for everything done up to say, June.
    The only reason why I got my mediocre marks in this format was that I did not do enough study. You can’t blame the system for that.

    • Dv 5.1

      Oh, like Ncea then.

      • Simon Poole 5.1.1

        Not necessarily. When I took Bursary Biology I believe 35% of the grade was internal assessment, with the remainder coming from the exam. Friends of mine did Physical Education at the bursary level, and again there was a not-insignificant internal component.

        Of course, other classes I took (Chemistry, Calculus, Classical Studies, English) were all 100% external. And NCEA certainly can’t be worse than 6th form cert, where your pool of available grades is set by the performance of the school in School Cert the year before. That was a clusterfuck.

  6. Bored 6

    My shot as an employer: more tech courses where I can hire good keen 18 year olds with a few skills that I can hone and reward. Hired a guy with a little skill set recently who has great attitude, worth his weight in gold already.

    Big thing to me is demonstrable aptitude (the tech course at school helps here) and attitude (school can do that too)…NCEA L3 in whatever, or BCom just does not give me anywhere to go.

    Having said that pretty much every 18 – 25 year old I see wants the job and would make a fist of it, we employers (and the economy in general) are letting down a whole generation. They all want to work and contribute, and we serve up crap as a future to them from day one.

    • seeker 6.1

      @Bored

      “Having said that pretty much every 18 – 25 year old I see wants the job and would make a fist of it, we employers (and the economy in general) are letting down a whole generation. They all want to work and contribute, and we serve up crap as a future to them from day one.”

      I agree with your wise and perceptive comment on this issue. We should really try to put our heads together to try and come up with some answers to this problem that you have pertinently exposed. Maybe this is where the business community could show some creativity outside their own bubble?

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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago

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