The Nats’ education policy came out yesterday and, predictably, it’s ideologically driven nonsense that will damage children.
The main drive is to extend the significance of national standards. The Nats’ version of the standards, you’ll recall, have been slammed by their own education advisor:
National standards ‘disaster’ feared
A top academic has told the government its controversial national standards system could be a disaster, warning it to block league tables, prevent teachers playing “devious games” with marking, and be prepared to dump the policy if it does not work. Professor John Hattie of Auckland University predicts that even with the changes he recommends, the system a key National policy will do little to raise student achievement.
Tests blamed for blighting children’s lives
Landmark study of primary schools calls for teachers to be freed of targets
Children’s lives are being impoverished by the government’s insistence that schools focus on literacy and numeracy at the expense of creative teaching, the biggest review of the primary school curriculum in 40 years finds today.
Because of their concern for their students, and despite threats against principals and school boards, over 400 primary schools refused to comply with the standards process until the threats became extreme. (See an account from one of the bullied schools here, and another that is being targeted here).
The most damaging aspect of standards is “league tables” comparing schools. It’s unfair because it judges schools on a single mechanical measure (like time to run a race) without taking account of other important factors (like some runners get a head start and others a handicap). A school that does better teaching (improves student performance more) may get a worse score, simply because the students that it gets start from further behind. This is why all expert advice to Tolley was not to pursue league tables. In 2009 Tolley said in Parliament:
As to the question around the damage that might be done to schools if that information were published, I have made it very clear that neither the ministry nor I will be publishing any information in the form of league tables.
Tolley acknowledges the danger, and that it is a reason not to publish league tables, but she plays cute with a limited promise – “neither the Ministry nor I”. Now, predictably, she has driven a bus through the loophole. We’re headed full speed down the league tables dead-end road:
Nats open door to primary school league tables
League tables for primary schools appear almost inevitable if National is re-elected.
National leader John Key this afternoon announced the party’s full education policy, including early childhood, schools and the tertiary sector. He said National’s “next steps” on the controversial National Standards scheme would include using performance information to “strengthen the accountability of schools”. …
Education spokeswoman Anne Tolley said a National-led Government would not roll out any league tables of its own but primary schools would, from next year, be required to publish their results against the National Standards. There will be no steps to stop media or anyone else from constructing league tables out of the information.
Standards and league tables place pressures on schools that damage the education of children. It pretty much amounts to a slow and subtle form of child abuse, as this first hand account of experience in America makes clear.
National wants personality test for teachers
People wanting to be teachers may soon have to pass a personality test to assess whether they are right for the job.
It’s one of the moves planned by National should it retain power after Saturday. …[Tolley] says the industry needs the right people in the job and that’s why disposition tests will be introduced for teaching applicants.
“Someone’s making that decision now as they accept applicants for teacher training now, so we actually want to put some criteria in there.”
This isn’t just the usual nanny state gone mad stuff, the Nats want to vet each teacher to their own criteria. And given that John Key once complained of “creeping political correctness in our schools”, I wonder what kind of thoughtcrime they’ll be looking to expunge?