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National standards fail in America

Written By: - Date published: 11:49 am, February 10th, 2012 - 51 comments
Categories: education, national, schools, us politics - Tags: ,

New Zealand schools achieve excellent results and they are very cost effective. (There are kids who fail at school in all countries but this is largely for socioeconomic reasons.) The Nats are determined to break our excellent school system. For purely ideological reasons they are forcing through national standards, against the advice of their own experts and all the international evidence on the damage that standards cause.

England has realised that standards are damaging. Some of the leading educational theorists in America responsible for implementing standards have woken up to the truth. Now comes tacit acknowledgement from the US government that “No Child Left Behind” (the American version of national standards) has failed:

10 states get education waivers

President Barack Obama on Thursday will free 10 states from the strict and sweeping requirements of the No Child Left Behind education law in exchange for promises to improve the way schools teach and evaluate students.

The move is a tacit acknowledgement that the law’s main goal, getting all students up to par in reading and math by 2014, is not within reach. .. A total of 28 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signaled that they, too, plan to seek waivers — a sign of just how vast the law’s burdens have become as the big deadline nears.

No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Obama’s action strips away that fundamental requirement for those approved for flexibility, provided they offer a viable plan instead. … In September, Obama called President George W. Bush’s most hyped domestic accomplishment an admirable but flawed effort that hurt students instead of helping them. …

For all the cheers that states may have about the changes, the move also reflects the sobering reality that the United States is not close to the law’s original goal: getting children to grade level in reading and math. Critics today say the 2014 deadline was unrealistic, the law is too rigid and led to teaching to the test, and too many schools feel they are unfairly labeled as “failures.”

We’ll get to the same realisation here in NZ eventually of course, but only after we’ve repeated the mistakes of other countries. Only after we’ve damaged the education of kids in primary schools for many years. Is that an acceptable price to pay for the Nats’ arrogance?

51 comments on “National standards fail in America ”

  1. ianmac 1

    I fear that for political expediency, the National Government cannot afford to back off the National Standards. Even the most compelling evidence cannot be enough to have an admission that was a mistake. The wasting $30+ million dollars, disruption to children’s learning, and perhaps also importantly the undermining of the Teacher Institute cannot be undone by this Government. Probably plug away and leave it for a future Government to cancel the program.

    • Bored 1.1

      Banksy: “Hey John, If you don’t allow us to push through our total free market kill the poor social agenda we wont give you the extra vote you need from us to fulfill our other agenda of selling off the state silver…..”…..

      Shonkers: “Sorry Banksy, as I said over the cuppa you have stolen our true agenda, but you have to help us commit to it”….

  2. just saying 2

    This blight was designed to be a mechanism for taking resources from schools serving disadvantaged areas, and thereby punishing their students and teachers, and blaming them for it, and rewarding schools with results associated with socioeconomic advantage.

    Oh and breaking the union.

    Disgusting, and so very National.

  3. james 111 3

    Believe they will do well here will put the spotlight on all the terrible teachers that the Unions protect. Will also hopefully lead to better teachers getting paid more because they deserve it. At last parents feel that Teachers will be accountable to them if they perform poorly

    • newsense 3.1

      you really are quite boring you know.

      I can see you as the chap with one of those early flying machines going

      “well, look I know the last 5 guys who have run over this cliff with huge wings made of chicken feathers have plummeted to their doooom, but you know I believe this machine I’m wearing is going to go great guns.”

      • Bored 3.1.1

        He has certainly got me quite Bored. Hey Jimmy Pill Brain, before you accuse teachers of being terrible get off your spotty fat lard-arse and prove you can do any better. Otherwise shut the ****up!

        [lprent: Is this the usual Bored? Same IP and new email. ]

        • Bored

          Yes Iprent its me, suffering some ennui…must have used the other email….been a hard day working away in a manner that RWNJs claim is their domain. Might change my name to Tired.

          [lprent: know the feeling. Figured it was after I looked at the profile. I do keep an eye out for spoofing. ]

    • Oh James 111, I do hope you are prepared to become a teacher and reach for that oh so easy higher pay scale of “Good teachers”.

      So easy to say teaching schoolchildren is easy, I have brought up a family so I understand raising children can be emotionally and mentally exausting, teachers come under the same pressures as well.

    • r0b 3.3

      James111 you truly are the biggest muppet commenting here. “Believe they will do well” isn’t good enough, when they have damaged kids’ education in other countries (every country where they have been tried, as far as I know). But at least you’re honest about it. It’s the pathological hatred for teachers’ unions that is driving all this. Like the Nats, you don’t care if kids get damaged, as long as you can have a go at unions.

    • Rodel 3.4

      This simpleton James etc is probably someone who’s been lucky enough to make some money but has an IQ about 65-70 I’d say…. I’ve met a few like that and they also get absorbed into right leaning politics. Best ignored as irrelevant and ineffectual…but can with a lot of state funding be educated to a basic level.

    • thatguynz 3.5

      Yet another asinine example of your complete inability to think critically James…
      Once you’ve completed your secondary education and proven the dysfunction of National Standards then one would hope you could come back here and debate constructively from a position of experience..  Oh wait…

    • ianmac 3.6

      james111 You bore me.

    • Hateatea 3.7

      You really are a plonker, HemiTokotoru. Have you any idea at all how difficult it is to teach children anything meaningful while you are endlessly recording statistics?

      National Standards only records the success of children who were always going to achieve them while doing absolutely nothing to help the rest with whatever part of their learning is holding them back. 

    • mik e 3.8

      Jturd every time National get elected educational performance across the board declines.

      • ianmac 3.8.1

        Yep mike. Did you know that from 1992 to 1998 the average reading age of children aged 7 to 10.5 dropped 17.35%?
        Between 2001 and 2008 the same group regained that loss by 18.45%.
        But already in the last 3 years the drop off has started again with a loss of 3.76% from the same group.
        Thankyou Anne Tolley!
        Easy isn’t it? And now those Earthquakes….

    • James111 – I fear your faith in people like John Banks is sadly misplaced. Let me show you why; http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/minister-for-whut/

      If that information doesn’t suggest to you that ACT is hopelessly incompetant, then what will?

  4. Ed 4

    The intransigence of the government must be very disappointing to parents with children at Moerewa – they are stifling innovation which has proven excellent results in exchange for their blind ideology. I gather that even National don’t really believe in National Standards – they will not apply to all schools, but National don;t like talking about that.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    This is what education for the disadvantaged in NZ should be like.


  6. fabregas4 6

    And all for less than 10% of children (not that I’m satisfied or happy about this number) not the 20 or 25% that the Nats propaganda keeps spouting out.


    And for what it is worth at least 10% of kids simply don’t ‘do’ school.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      And for what it is worth at least 10% of kids simply don’t ‘do’ school.

      Yep, for some people the format just doesn’t suit. The NActs are supposed to understand this individualism and yet here they are ramming conformity down everyone’s throat (except private schools).

  7. Chris 7

    I just wish John Key would this http://www.nea.org/home/40991.htm and say this is it
    . This is how we achieve the brighter future. This is how we advance our people.

  8. Fisiani 8

    New Zealand schools achieve excellent results.,,,,,,,,Really!!
    20% leave school functionally illiterate.
    National standards are just the start of the education reforms.
    National is not prepared to write off 1 in 5 children. The teacher unions are.
    Hekia Parata will be an even better Education Minister than Julia Gilard was in Australia.
    Gillard beat the unions and so will Hekia

    • r0b 8.1

      New Zealand schools achieve excellent results.,,,,,,,,Really!!

      Yes, really.  Read the links in the original post.  (You won’t of course, it might disturb your prejudices).

      20% leave school functionally illiterate.

      No they don’t, look at the link from fabregas4 above.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      Fisi proves, once again, that facts don’t enter his life at all. Only the spin from the Head Office.

    • foreign waka 8.3

      I agree that too many students leave school without an education.,,,,,,,,,Really!
      This has less to do with unions but more with parents who are unwilling to monitor their kids progress and/or are in the wrong belief that schools will do the job without them needing to get involved. Once “tomorrows school” was in place, the aforesaid just found a nice little excuse for it. Meanwhile the situation deteriorated year by year. I doubt that any operational manuals will be written in cellphone text language in a hurry. I am not sure about the National standard but education should also be a means to equip students for later life and work. I guess parents as well as employers need to know what consistent measure is in place to understand what capabilities a student has. Of cause, for those who live in the land of tall poppies and the pathological need to keep expectations to the lowest level this will not bode well. And we are talking about English and not even a second language!

    • Gillard beat the unions and so will Hekia

      So that’s what this is all about – beating the Unions?

      And using our children as pawns in this diabolical exercise?

      Another obscenity from the right wing, who have no compunction in exploiting people for their own ends…

      • seeker 8.4.1

        A+ and excellent comment Frank M. So sad that you have to make it. Can’t understand the rights’ hatred of teachers in this country, are they so ignorant?
        It is not at all good for our children, who, in their innocence, really don’t deserve it.

    • According to that dastardly socialist satrap, the OECD, New Zealand Schools are actually not as bad as what the New Right make out; http://www.oecd.org/document/12/0,3746,en_2649_201185_46623628_1_1_1_1,00.html

      New Zealand came seventh on the OECD’s latest PISA survey of education performance, just below Canada and Singapore.

      Our American cuzzies, by contrast, came fifteenth-equal with Poland and Iceland. The full rankings can be seen here; http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/54/12/46643496.pdf

      Now the question is; who in their right mind use a system from a country that are FIFTEENTH in ranking. I’d be looking at countries ranked above us, and see what, if anything, we can learn from them.

      Doesn’t that make sense to you, Fisiani?

  9. foreign waka 9

    It would not matter what framework, law or guidelines are in place. The fact is that reading requires more than just texting some gobbledegook. I really think that the skills should be thought as they were some 20-25 years ago. After “tomorrows school” was introduced in NZ a trend developed that inch by inch failed students and we have many now unable to read. This is not necessary their fault, I put this squarely onto the parents and teachers. Even some years ago the Universities were already saying that about 30% of students are functionally illiterate. I work with young adults who cannot read and the consequences are horrendous. So why is this deemed acceptable when such failure is one of the reason for having people ending up unemployed or in poverty. Either the politics of it fit the requirement for unskilled labor or no one gives a …., to everybody’s detriment.

    • ianmac 9.1

      Waka.Tomorrow’s Schools was all about Governance and Administration and not about Teaching and Learning.
      Universities had a huge growth in intake and started getting a wider range of abilities and not just the elite.
      There has always been a long tail if not longer. Identifying those who are failing has become much more precise. You could say that 50% of the population is failing if they “score” below average or you could say that 5% of the population are illiterate as they cannot read above a 10 year old level.
      But hey when politicians start throwing stats around then anything goes. And a certain sort is happy to create and perpetuate the myths.
      Are you one of those Waka?

      • foreign waka 9.1.1

        ianmac, appreciate what you are saying but it is the structure of this administration that was driving the outcomes. i.e, do we rebuild the toilet block or do we get another teacher? So in the end you have more students per teacher than average. It was a savings program, so clever you could pin a tail on it. Add to this parents who are not involved in the child’s education and you have the numbers fulfilled. No falsifying stats here.
        And no these are no myths, I see the outcome every day. Couples with the disestablishment of apprenticeships and vola’ all and sundry has to go to University and yet no everybody is suited. To say so is the biggest betrayal to the kids that can every be perpetrated..I do know that University’s has had an influx of illiterate students from the 90’s onwards. But the political correct brigade would not allow any lecturer to say anything (FACT). As for the entry into University, we are not talking about the elite here, we are talking about students who are interested in an education, actually spending the time doing something about it, instead of drinking themselves under the table every weekend because the student loan comes so handy. These are the same students who went overseas still owing the money. I am 100% for a free education but a numerous clausus has to be applied. This means that students have to achieve very good passes or else no entry into the University.
        It is time for the adult population to stand up and not adopt this sad apologist stand because NZ kids need to compete against other kids who have been far better educated and parents participate in the education of their offspring.

        • KJT

          Agreed that we have this ridiculous idea of superior status in the Anglo Saxon west being tied to having a job shuffling paper instead of being able to make something.

          School Teachers and university lecturers are just as guilty as anyone else.

          Many who now go to University have skill sets that are more useful in other professions and trades, than academic ones. Instead of training even more Lawyers, necessitating make work schemes such as legal aid at $100/hour, we should be paying for places for New Zealanders in real skills.

          Unfortunately, getting an apprenticeship is now almost impossible.

          In most trades the average age in NZ is in the 50 and 60’s.

          The few young people that have trained have gone to countries where they pay for skills.

          Employers who fail to train, or pay staff according to their skill level, bleat to immigration they cannot get skilled people. While children with excellent practical skills, who would be capable tradespeople, annoy Uni lecturers and add to the oversupply of those with degrees.

        • just saying

          When I was growing up, professionals came to the school and took kids out for reading recovery, and speech and language assistance. I suspect the resources available to shools nowadays, to meet such needs are greatly reduced. My teacher sister tells me there is one speech and language therapist covering all of what was Manukau city.

          And speaking of the cruelty of National Standards in our schools, the backstops such as they are, will soon be rationed according to performance standards. I have a friend who works for Literacy Aotearoa who tells me that funding is soon to be withdrawn for students that don’t achieve according to a variety of external assessment criteria. Her student who has made fantastic progress over two years compared to the barriers he has to overcome, and has struggled and persisted despite demoralising experiences in the education system, will no longer be funded because he doesn’t make the grade. She will continue to help him independently providing all the resources herself. Most like him won’t be so lucky.

          I love this government

      • KJT 9.1.2

        Actually we do well by international standards. The tail is, in reality, less than 16%.

        We already know how to reduce the tail. Increase the amount spent on already successful programs such as remedial reading, at primary school level. Students are often dumped from these programs, due to lack of funding, just when they begin to have a beneficial effect.

        Having parents with a job and a reasonable income, and the children having a realistic expectation of having the same, also makes a huge difference.

        Tomorrows schools, like NACT standards, was all about idealogy, not lifting education standards.

        The right are not going to come out and say, their goal is to reduce the cost of education for the majority, so the wealthy can pay less taxes. Instead they pretend they are actually interested in the quality of education.

        Advocating policies that have been proven failures overseas is not the way to get rid of the tail, but actually doing something means paying and resourcing Teachers properly.

        • foreign waka

          Quite right, it seems that education, which is the only avenue that gives the general population the means to distinguish between fact and fiction is being eroded and instead some bureaucratic rigmarole put into place. Not sure whether the left or right is interested, they both manipulate to their own ends. Adults should stand up for their kids future because no one else will.

        • Frank Macskasy

          Indeed. We are 7th on the OECD rankings – as opposed to our American cuzzies, who are at #15. So why would be use an American system that produces WORSE outcomes, than our own cutrrent system – or those who are ranked above us?

          This appears to be yet another attempt by the New Right to implement a system – based not on successful outcomes – but purely on ideology.

          I go into it in a bit more depth here, including resistance to Charter Schools in the US; http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/privatisation-of-our-schools/

  10. foreign waka 10

    Sorry, bit of editing required, but you get the sense of it -have to run to and from a sick family member, hence these disconnected sentences. University (no s) etc….

  11. eljaydee 11

    Can any parent on this forum, with children who went to school before, during and after the implementation of standards, honestly say they know more about the progress of their child and the state of their education now that standards have been introduced?

  12. dan1 12

    The hypocrisy of the NACT party is breathtaking. Schools are threatened that they will lose funding if they do not sign up. But private schools, where many NACT MPs send children or grandchildren, do not have that nonsense imposed on them. The private school label is sufficient. The new charter schools, which are meant to improve the performance of the disadvantaged, do not have to do national standards. And Maori schools do not have to do them.
    Some National Standard!
    A politician in Alabama had it summed up, when he congratulated himself on supporting charter schools. His campaign funds tool off with contributions from private firms. It allowed him to get his campaign off the ground.
    These new fangled National standards and charter schools have nothing to do with education but with harnessing money from ideologically motivated private enterprise.

    • Hateatea 12.1

      ‘And Maori schools do not have to do them’

      There is some confusion here, I think. As far as I know, Te Runanga Nui o Nga Kura Kaupapa maintain that as they teach the National Guidelines under the umbrella of Te Aho Matua, the National Standards for reading, writing and arithmetic do not apply as those ‘Standards’ are based on a different curriculum model.

      You certainly wouldn’t get a true result of the levels reached if the ‘Standards’ were not based on the curriculum being used, a case of comparing apples with oranges.

      As a parent of a kura kaupapa educated child, I know that my son at seven was bi-lingual, bi-numerate and had an adequate writing style. He was less confident that he could read in both languages although it was clear to us that he could.

      The fact is that, even before National Standards were imposed, many teachers resented the increased level of information gathering versus time spent actually teaching. Given that the foundation of literacy, numeracy and written work takes place in those crucial first years at school, wouldn’t we be better off teaching / assisting more at that time than recording against ‘Standards’ that many believe do not actually align with the National Curriculum? 

      • seeker 12.1.1

        “Given that the foundation of literacy, numeracy and written work takes place in those crucial first years at school, wouldn’t we be better off teaching / assisting more at that time than recording against ‘Standards’ that many believe do not actually align with the National Curriculum? ”

        Very well said Hateatea. John Key never thought this through (as is his usual MOD) when he muttered “national standards” in 2008. and then put ‘without a clue’ adoring non-questioning super Key groupie,Tolley, in charge of imposing his ‘American of the top of his empty head’ mutter on the rest on our children. Unbelievable that this could happen in a so called enlightened, civilised, supposedly intelligent, 21st century society.

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