Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Media3: Standards Showdown

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  • Nick Melchior,

    Good post Russell. I think you're missing a word in para seven however - education Vaimoana Tapaleao?

    Melbourne • Since Nov 2006 • 36 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    If I wasn't out of the office, I'd add a bit more about tensions with the principle of open data -- and the importance of public entities complying with the OIA.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • raoulduke,

    Some years ago before I was a parent I found myself in a discussion with a bunch of academic high achievers with secondary school age children. They agreed that different schools were appropriate for different children and that that is why the younger son or daughter may not attend the same school as the elder sibling. Academic standards were important but not the be all and end all of choosing a school.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2011 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If I wasn't out of the office, I'd add a bit more about tensions with the principle of open data -- and the importance of public entities complying with the OIA.

    It's an important and complex problem. There's so much possibility of misinterpretation or hyperbolic reporting, especially if the metadata is either missing or couched in technical terms that look like plain English but have different or nuanced official meanings (e.g. "earthquake-prone", "no more than minor").

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Tom Beard,

    couched in technical terms that look like plain English but have different or nuanced official meanings (e.g. "earthquake-prone", "no more than minor").

    I've had judicial decisions complaining about this. There's basically a judicial direction (not often followed, unfortunately) that psychologists should not use the phrase "mild intellectual disability".

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    .. lest politicians be offended. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Tom Beard,

    It's an important and complex problem. There's so much possibility of misinterpretation or hyperbolic reporting

    The possibility of misinterpretation has never been a reason for withholding under the OIA.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Gregor Ronald,

    Well, you would expect people educated in statistics to know more about statistics, wouldn't you? Are these newspapers actually arguing against the education levels of the experts, while claiming to help parents choose the best education? Better be careful, your kids may turn out to be educated! They may join the "high priesthood of data analysis"! We wouldn't want our lids to know more than the "wisdom of the crowd", would we?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Here's some food for thought: Crooked Timber's recent Open Data seminar.

    I think there is a parallel to be drawn with free speech absolutism. A commitment to free speech brings costs to society as well as benefits, in hate speech and lies and calls of fire in crowded theatres. Likewise, a commitment to open data can have negative consequences too.

    Journalists have to write stories that resonate with readers. Maybe the boring truth that there is little useful to be learned from National Standards numbers just isn't enough.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Journalists have to write stories that resonate with readers. Maybe the boring truth that there is little useful to be learned from National Standards numbers just isn’t enough.

    I think there's something in that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Good on John Hartevelt for fronting up to no doubt catch a fair bit from you Russell. At least he hasn't put it out there and then walked away.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    It'll be more my job to moderate :-)

    John actually took no convincing.

    And it's also worth noting that they made the data downloadable for everyone - critics and competitors even - to use.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    We have inconsistent data, widely trumpeted as measuring schools' performances, that is actually a rough measure of students' performances in a narrow range of endeavour. These performances are influenced by students' experiences prior to school enrolment, their intellectual capacities, and only latterly by teaching quality. If kids enrol at school relatively unprepared, their standards performances are likely to be relatively poor, even with the best teaching. Some parents will be discerning enough to react appropriately, but judging by the comments on newspaper stories and the opinions expressed in the stories themselves, many will act inappropriately. Parent flight from schools where kids have achieved lower scores coupled with pressure on teachers to teach to the test will hurt our educational system. The blame for this rests with the political architects of the scheme, but also with reporters who have encouraged parents to view the standards as a measure of teaching performance.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    A commitment to free speech brings costs to society as well as benefits

    Good point. We seem to have measures to moderate some of those consequences but not others.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It’ll be more my job to moderate :-)

    I'm betting you won't be able to restrain yourself.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    Must... Not... Cynically... Give... In....

    I have long suspected the US education system was designed to maintain an ignorant underclass to fill the gap left by the abolishment of slavery. Could we be doing the same thing?

    And are we creating a dual-stream society; those with critical analysis skills and those who become politicians and newspaper editors?

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    and the importance of public entities complying with the OIA.

    It’s not just important, it’s the law. Something that shouldn’t really need to be repeated, but as long as the penalties for flouting it makes the proverbial slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket look like an all day session with Madame Lash, it will remain so. (For that matter, why should politicians give the OIA some teeth when, to be perfectly cynical, they're among the biggest beneficiaries of the piss-weak status quo?)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    No one bumped this yet?

    Just watched the media3 interview with Hartevelt, Milne and Ng again. Some observations.

    – media3 should allow for longer interviews. I would like to have seen Keith with more opportunity to explain his points. Not that he didn’t do well, but Johnathan and John did take up quite a bit of the time between them. I’ve thought that about other shows too: allow for a longer main interview segment, even if it means having fewer stories per episode.

    – Hartevelt seems to be arguing that league tables are a bad idea, but that if the data were to be published at all, it must be with the ability to make comparisons between schools. Surely that’s just de facto league tables?

    – Hartevelt: “Are you saying they’re randomly made up numbers? You’re saying that’s what teaches have done?” Wow. Way to miss the point being made.

    – Milne should just have accepted that the way they presented the data around class sizes was misleading. It’s all very well to say there was a weak correlation, but it was a weak correlation they blared from a headline.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Here's the show OnDemand. An interesting watch.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steve Parks,

    Milne should just have accepted that the way they presented the data around class sizes was misleading. It’s all very well to say there was a weak correlation, but it was a weak correlation they blared from a headline.

    And once you'd considered confounding factors -- small classes at special schools and poorly-resourced rural schools -- there just wasn't a story in it.

    But I gather Keith and Jonathan Milne had a productive discussion afterwards*, which is a good thing.

    *Unfortunately, Keith brought shame on bloggers and data geeks by having his eft-pos bounce at the bar, meaning he had to go begging to the dreaded MSM for a drink. The secret liberal bloggers cabal is considering a formal censure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Wow, what's with the hostilty towards Keith? Johnathan Milne's body language seemed to be about shutting Keith out until Keith got to speak, and then it turned all condescending - and not just in posture, but also words with that ridiculous "rats running around a statistical laboratory" comment. And John Hartevelt's tone sounded both incredibly defensive and extremely hostile.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But I gather Keith and Jonathan Milne had a productive discussion afterwards*, which is a good thing.

    *Unfortunately, Keith brought shame on bloggers and data geeks by having his eft-pos bounce at the bar, meaning he had to go begging to the dreaded MSM for a drink. The secret liberal bloggers cabal is considering a formal censure.

    Ah, tweets I saw from days ago now have more specific meaning. Not to mention secret cabal's being involved. This is coming together like a Neil Gaiman novel.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I enjoyed reading this. I was thinking about how your writing has evolved since I first started reading Hard News a decade ago.

    There’s something insidious about the way John Hartevelt uses language. He writes without irony of his “balanced approach”, of usefulness and fairness, he hints at his striving to do battle with the complexity of the issues. His words writhe in the light as they lurch incoherently towards the shadows of rhetorical safety,

    It may well hurt a school to be judged solely on its National Standards results, but we doubt parents who care about their child’s education would be that naive.

    this man is a charlatan and a sophist and his writing is beneath contempt.

    You once called Michael Laws a c**t, and maybe that is true, but we should prefer the vagina that speaks its mind to the superficially charming snake that positions its ambition behind soothing tones and false moderation. I merely disapprove of Hartevelt’s shitty compromise with Mammon, but his pretence of public spirit is truly repulsive.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    I ask once again: is there any connection between the drive for National Standards and charter schools, and sponsorship from Education Forum-affiliated lobbyists and the associated advertising revenue?

    I can see the NZEI & PPTA going to the Press Council over the whole thing. It's not the teachers' fault that social work has been lumped into their in-trays over the past generation.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5430 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    "Parents are those in the best position to judge all the requirements necessary for the best education of their children."

    As a parent I am not in any real position to judge the requirements necessary for the best education of my child - in the same manner that I am not in any real position to do the electrical wiring in my home.

    I turn a switch and the light comes on, I send my daughter off to school and she learns and gains an education - I have to trust others to see that the right things happens the right way.

    What the furor over National Standards has lead me to do is go and look at the ministry of Ed website and this then lead me to the links on the National Curriculum which is something that I am more interested in.

    http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/National-Standards/Reading-and-writing-standards/The-standards/After-one-year

    I spent most of my Saturday morning looking at the curriculum pages and the how I can support my child pages – which I will revisit and use to engage more with her learning. I only went to look at the National Standard Graphic thingy for my daughter’s school just before rolling out the door to work.

    To me, there seems to be an undercurrent in this debate, if you could call it that, of what I want, I want, I want from the education system is the ability for my child to do much better than your child and I want, I want, I want the publication of National Standards to be able to tell me which school is best to achieve this outcome.

    This emphasis isn’t healthy.

    Schools are, also, measured on a decile rating – a summary measure of the economic depravation likely to be suffered by children.

    Good on Campbell Live for fundraising for the KidsCan initiative to provide lunch to those children in decile 1 to 4 primary schools that are going hungry during the school day.

    It would be good to see a government get concerned with “issues” as opposed to self interest and bashing beneficiaries – The macro economic settings of the economy and how it is managed is what is failing..

    The key educational outcomes I want for my child I also want for the children of others. I have faith in her, her school and her teachers.

    I have no faith in this government - everything seems to end up as an acrimonious shit fight.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

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