It really annoys me to see complex educational issues reported in the idiotic “horse race” format that the media is so fond of. Case in point, the front page header for a piece in today’s Herald. Who wins? Who losses? Bring on the league tables!
Despite disclaimers (and this particular article commendably includes one, “This cannot be used as a ranking table in any way”) most of the reporting of NCEA results every year is framed in this superficial horse-race style. That was always National’s intent. It obscures the social and demographic factors that influence outcomes, and the history of where each school is coming from. It creates perverse incentives to manipulate NCEA outcomes, how can we trust the data? For example, also in today’s Herald:
University Entrance change hits low-decile schools hardest
Educators warn drop in student pass rates at low-decile schools is worrying.
Our poorest students have been hit the hardest by changes to University Entrance, with up to 50 per cent fewer pupils making it over the new threshold in low-decile areas.
The changes to University Entrance (UE), brought in by the Government last year, have also affected universities, with 960 fewer students enrolling across six of the eight providers this year. But experts fear some students are missing out because of schools’ resourcing as opposed to teenagers’ academic ability.
On the one hand the government are pushing for more and more NCEA passes to feed the league tables, and on the other they are acknowledging that those passes are no longer enough to suggest success at Tertiary level and tightening criteria to exclude students. From the same piece:
“Lower decile schools would have found themselves in a bind.”
For many it was a juggle between getting NCEA Level 3 with a non-approved UE subject, or risking going for UE but not achieving Level 3.
Labour tertiary education spokesman David Cunliffe said the drop in UE pass rates was a “giant shambles” linked to poor communication around the changes, and some schools pushing students towards “softer” subjects earlier on.
Mixed messages, perverse incentives, a giant shambles.