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National standards nonsense

Written By: - Date published: 9:53 am, June 12th, 2013 - 34 comments
Categories: education, Hekia parata, schools - Tags: , ,

If there was a national standard in scientific method than the right wing spinsters talking up yesterday’s national standards results would all fail it. As reported yesterday:

Concerning trends in National Standards data

Education Minister Hekia Parata says the latest National Standards data reveals some concerning trends, including a decline in the rate of achievement as the year level increases, especially in mathematics. … However, Ms Parata said that overall the results were a “pleasing advance on last year’s data”. …

The 2012 national aggregate data shows:

• Reported achievement against the National Standard for reading increased by 1.2 percentage points from 76.2 per cent in 2011 to 77.4 per cent in 2012.

• Reported achievement against the National Standard for mathematics increased by 1.4 points from 72.2 per cent in 2011 to 73.6 per cent in 2012.

• Reported achievement against the National Standard for writing increased by 2 points from 68 per cent in 2011 to 70 per cent in 2012.

There are no “trends” that can be meaningfully observed in a tiny difference between two noisy data points from an unreliable, unmoderated process. It’s nonsense:

Educators dismiss claim of national standards improvement

Educators have dismissed Government figures on national standards results showing students are doing better in reading, writing and maths.

… The figures are between 1.2 and 2 percentage points higher than in 2011, the first year schools reported their results. Education Minister Hekia Parata said the change is because students are doing better.

Or it’s noise, or it’s grade inflation, or it’s teaching to the test and ignoring other important aspects of education, and so on.

… But Principals Federation president Phillip Harding dismissed Ms Parata’s comments. “The claim by the minister that … 1 percent here and there represents an improvement is frankly ridiculous. “The standards are not national, they are not standard and teachers are still interpreting them in completely different ways from one end of the country to the other. To then come out and say that it represents progress is either mischievous or it’s uninformed.”

Professor Lee believes the increase was because teachers were concentrating on things that gave students high scores in tests to help decide if they had met a standard.

Education academics have described Ms Parata’s claim as dangerous, not credible and very optimistic. They say teachers are still learning how to use the standards and it is too soon to draw any conclusions from the results.

Howard Lee, head of educational studies at Massey University, says the latest results don’t show that students are doing better in reading, writing and maths. “That isn’t a credible claim. Essentially, what we’d be wanting to look for is long-term improvements over at least five to 10 years. I mean, it’s natural over a year or two that a 1.2 to 2 percent increase is interesting, but I think that the key point really is, no I don’t think the data is robust at this point.” …

Exactly.

Of course that doesn’t stop ignorant anonymous commentators from dutifully repeating the Nats’ spin in newspapers that should know better.

It’s good to see that Labour have come out and said that they would dump national standards (along with charter schools). Good. These ideologically driven (and known to be damaging) fantasies have no place in a good education system.

34 comments on “National standards nonsense”

  1. The silliest bit of National Standards is that it is providing information that we know already.

    The resources would be way better used upskilling teachers or decreasing class sizes or providing extra support for kids that are struggling.

    The education of all the other kids would also improve because there would be more time for learning and less time for doing tests.

    But that would remove from the Government a weapon they can use to terrorise teachers with …

  2. Dv 2

    I was confused by Paratas

    I trust the teachers to get the correct grades

    AND

    What do the teachers know they are wrong eg the NZEI, academics

  3. Winston Smith 3

    Does this mean shearer changed his mind (again) since last year?
    http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/labour-won-t-scrap-national-standards-shearer-5070882

    Or are the Labour party basically ignoring their leader?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.1

      Tell you what, rather than me explain it to you, why don’t you go and take the time to find out how the Labour party makes policy. Then your comments won’t be so crippled by ignorance.

    • Colonial Viper 3.2

      Exactly. If National Standards are such a big fail, why is Labour choosing to keep it around as an option for schools.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        Because they’re compromising with the right wing nutters again rather than having the strength to tell them to fuck off.

    • tracey 3.3

      or would Ms Parata fail NCEA Stats?

  4. ianmac 4

    NZ Council of Educational Research spent years perfecting moderated tests for Reading and Maths before release for school use. These are the much used PAT for Reading and Maths. Even then about 10% of those have dodgy results. So Unmoderated National Standards are farcical.
    For years it has been known that girls are better at testing and that Maori/Pacifica are lagging behind. But Minister Parata, what are you going to do about it? There is a limit to measuring with very floppy rulers.
    One thing that would help would be smaller classes. Private Schools trumpet smaller classes as a huge advantage. Why not for Primary Schools?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Why not for Primary Schools?

      Because that would mean a) that taxes would have to increase and b) the majority of people would have the education necessary to pick up the BS that National and Act peddle.

  5. mac1 5

    Winston Smith @3. This discussion was held before on an earlier charter schools thread.

    Here is an article from the Waikato Times in March this year. No change from that position with what Hipkins says.

    Shearer says in the Waikato Times that charter schools and national standards will go. “He gave his reassurance that if the Labour party was elected he would do away with national standards and charter schools.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/rotorua-review/8476876/Shearer-holds-Govt-to-account

    • Winston Smith 5.1

      Sounds like hes saying one thing to one group and another thing to a different group, smart thinking telling everyone what they want to hear.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1.1

        Only a cretin would want to hear that National’s cro-magnon “standards” would be staying. Might explain your enthusiasm for them.

      • fatty 5.1.2

        Sounds like hes saying one thing to one group and another thing to a different group

        If that is true, then give us the opposing quotes and develop an argument. You could be onto something.
        But you won’t do that, will you? You’ll just post a vague accusation and then pull a Houdini when its time to make your point.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.2.1

          I’m no fan of Winston Smith but his tvnz news link above quotes Shearer as saying that Labour will not cancel National Standards.

        • Winston Smith 5.1.2.2

          http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/rotorua-review/8476876/Shearer-holds-Govt-to-account
          “He gave his reassurance that if the Labour party was elected he would do away with national standards and charter schools.”

          http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/labour-won-t-scrap-national-standards-shearer-5070882
          “Labour Party leader David Shearer says a Labour government would not cancel National Standards in schools, as it rolls out a Reading Recovery programme.”

          • fatty 5.1.2.2.1

            see, you can do it.

            But the problem is that both statements are not quotes from Shearer. You have only provided one quote (from the Breakfast interview), whereas the meeting in Rotorua is a report…so why didn’t she use his statement as a quote?

            I just did a quick search on the author of the Waikato Times article and there was a teacher in Rotorua by the same name (Amy Childs). My guess is she was a teacher, so she is hardly an ‘objective’ reporter.

            So, a former local teacher has paraphrased Shearer and claims Shearer said he would do away with national standards and charter schools.

            Maybe I missed the quote as I’m in a rush, but I’m still not convinced.

            • mac1 5.1.2.2.1.1

              I googled Waikato Times and then the Rotorua Review. Amy Childs is a reporter for the Rotorua Review. Rotorua is where the Shearer meeting with teachers took place. She has 103 articles accredited to her by the Rotorua Review website search engine.

              She is a reporter. She should be accurate with her note taking and reportage. I’d say the report is ‘safe’. The fact that it is backed up by a statement from Hipkins, the education spokesperson, gives credibility to that report.

              I am very sure that a misrepresentation of both Shearer and Hipkins would be made obvious.

              It would seem therefore, that Shearer and the Labour Party have firmed up their views of where charter schools and national standards from last year. As a former teacher, I welcome that.

              • Colonial Viper

                The easiest answer is that Shearer changed his position between last year and this year. Which is fine, because he has learnt more about the subject, listened to teachers, and made a new decision that National Standards must go – which I agree with.

                • Miranda

                  CV

                  Bet-you that Shearer is still sitting on the fence.
                  Bet-you that Shearer will water things down and “retain the good bits” blah blah

                  Simulation and dissimulation is Shearer’s DNA.

                  Non-commitment is Shearer’s DNA.

                  “That man has NO Bottom”…my great Aunt Millicent would say about David Shearer.

                • Bunji

                  Labour’s always wanted to get rid of National Standards, it’s been a matter of having the guts to do it. It is popular (if scientifically and pedagogically invalid) with a reasonable number of middle-class voting types.

                  So the plan last election & last year was “we’ll make it one of 6 options of assessment and let schools choose” – knowing that virtually no school will choose it and they can get rid of it without offending those middle-class swing voters who like it.

                  We now seem to be slowly seeing a bolder Labour, who are willing to just say: nah, National Standards are shite.

                  Bravo I say.

                • fatty

                  Me too, there is no way national standards are of any use, whichever way you look at them.
                  Just odd that Shearer would announce his plans to abolish them in March, at a small gathering in Rotorua, and leave it at that. Has he talked about it anywhere else?

      • tracey 5.1.3

        I can’t imagine where he could have seen that tactic before??? Who do you vote for WS if you don’t like that in a politician? You must hate the current government and its hangers on.

  6. BLiP 6

    As mentioned over in Open Mike, the wonderful Kim Hill teased out the very issues you’ve raised here in a great interview with Hekia . . . well worth a listen:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2558311/reading,-writing-and-%27rithmetic-who%27s-got-their-sums-right

    (EDIT: How do you get that direct link with the tape arrows thingwotsit to show?)

  7. Rosetinted 7

    Hekia Parata has been constantly surprised since she was propelled from Planet Key into her Ministry of Education job. She has now found out the useful information from not-national lack-of-standards, that girls are doing better than boys and Maori and Pacific Islanders are trailling behind. Funny I thought I had heard all that before somewhere.

    But Hekia alias Lady Gardiner and a past executive of a number of organisations,has a focussed view on whatever project she is working on. No time to look widely at the factors involved, stay narrow and focussed on task. And don’t learn about the wider environment of society that you live in, except to notice and grab the low-hanging fruit that will help you on your upward mobility plan.

  8. tracey 8

    Can we be sure Perata was told the wrong stuff over Novopay, she seems to fail in reading comprehension and statistics, so…

  9. fabregas4 9

    Except Chris Hipkins has added of late …’in their current form’ to the end of ‘National Standards will go”.

    We will see I guess. Tracey Martin of NZF seems to be the only sensible and informed Education Spokesperson at present.

    • dpalenski 9.1

      Yeah I’m I was thinking it sounds they want another standard test/measurement *facepalm*

      Guideline Labour the national curriculum is a guideline not a prescription that’s followed religiously teachers use their own judgement of how it should be taught for 40+ years we trusted teachers to do it right why not now Finland still does

      Hekia talking about us doing everything world class education systems do. Yeah right

      GERM is a great acronym because it spreads and infects nearly everything to some degree.

  10. Rodel 10

    So sad that staff at most of our universities, especially humanities, have lost their mojo and are too cowed to comment on this nonsense.

  11. georgecom 11

    “National” “Standards” are nothing of the sort. The degree of variance between schools & children etc mean that there is no national consistency in results. There is insufficient moderation to arrive at a nationally consistent benchmarking of each and every child against the standards. The Governments policy fails to set national nationwide standards of achievement.

    The “National” “Standards” however are sufficient enough to cause damage within the education system including a narrowing of curriculum and taking focus away from implementing and bedding in the new curriculum.

    If the government intended leaving local assessment in the hands of teachers & schools then imposing a so called set of “National Standards” whilst allowing for local school automony was a hugely retrograde step. Schools already had sufficient tools to assess childrens learning. The “N” “S” were hastily drawn up and hastily rolled out across the sector. In some cases the stuff was being made up as it was being rolled out. More than that it was horribly expenive and horribly disruptive.

    So what we have is an assessment regime that relies on teachers judgement but without sufficient moderation to be nationally consistent. The assessment regime was poorly designed, poorly thought through and poorly consulted. The roll out was in a number of cases shambolic, expensive and very poor targeting of education funding. The current dogs breakfast is however negative enough to do damage to our education system.

    So, essentially, it fails to meet any of the governments aims but can do some real harm.

    If the government wanted to get a real national snapshot of childrens learning assessed against exact benchmarks, it would institute national tests. That however has been shown to be more deterimental to an education system.

    All in all an outcome not unlike Novapay but perhaps harder to explain to people. There must be severe questions whether the “N” “S” dogs breakfast is worth keeping and spending any further money on.

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