OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Because Statistical Rigour

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  • Russell Brown,

    The Weekend Herald has gone one better: under the front-page lead headline ’Why children fail in writing’ (and, on the home page of the website ‘Our kids’ failing standards’ ) it has declared a trend off the back of the first year’s data.

    If you can compare one school’s National Standards results with another, you certainly can’t compare this year’s results with prior results that don’t actually exist.

    But the Herald knows why it’s happening!

    More than a third of primary school children are failing writing standards because they don’t read enough and are confused by texting language and slang, say experts.

    The story then quotes one “expert”, the principal of NZ Writers’ College, which teaches adults things like ‘Travel Writing’ and ‘Write your Memoir’. These may be perfectly good courses, but they have nothing to do with the way children learn at primary school level.

    Professor Judy Parr, head of the Auckland University School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, is also quoted, but she just basically says reading helps with writing and they’re both good things.

    The reporter, Vaimoana Tapaleao, also has a well-reported story on page two, with quotes from teachers, principals and their professional bodies saying the data are unreliable. It does seem the “fail” angle and implied crisis is an editorial contrivance for the sake of a lead story.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Herald on Sunday has tweeted this:

    National Standards – marking the teachers. In tomorrow’s Herald on Sunday we crunch the numbers and find out how your primary school rates.

    Well, no, these numbers won’t let you “measure the teachers” at all, HoS editors. You just concocted that angle to play on a popular prejudice.

    This league table thing’s going swimmingly so far.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Melmac,

    The cynical among us are starting to believe that National Standards and League Tables were concocted by the National Party to divert the popular discourse away from our economy and National's mishandling of it.

    Christchurch • Since Jun 2011 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Melmac,

    Nah, that's what welfare changes are for. This stuff has been going on since the current govt were elected 4 years ago.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    If NS are meant to allow parents to access unbiased straightforward data that will allow them to assess their child's future or present school's teaching performance, the result is Not Achieved (with Excellence).

    I looked up my children's school as a matter of interest to see how the information is presented (not because I support anything about NS). It's an integrated Kindergarten to Year 13 area school, and the result is not only meaningless, it's unintelligible.

    Good; I know the high quality of whole-person education the boys are receiving, and these tables will not result in the thundering of 4WDs up the school driveway demanding that their offspring be admitted because none of the important questions are asked.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • mic weevil, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Well, no, these numbers won’t let you “measure the teachers” at all,

    aside from the obvious problems - ie. with using a set of stats that distill a huge number of complex variables into some simplified, aggregated, unmoderated figures - identifying teacher quality based on the performance of a school's aggregate scores is impossible. every school has good and bad teachers. even if you send your kid ta a great school they might still get a "bad one" (I actually don't think there are any bad teachers - just some that cope with being overworked, overstressed and underpaid better than others).

    I take it the school and ERO / MOE are able to examine the data on a teacher by teacher basis, but even still I can't see an easy way of extricating the influence of teaching quality from the other socioeconomic, biological and environmental factors that impact on student's learnification. It just seems like a huge amount of effort to go to to obtain data of dubious value...

    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    When my kids were at school, I was able to assess how they were achieving by observation. I didn't need newspapers or league tables to do this.
    They went to our neighbourhood schools, the primary school a block away, and the college a 5 minute walk.
    Where does this anxiety about performance come from? Who is going to benefit from it?
    I don't see the "average citizen" gaining anything from the navel gazing newspapers are indulging in. Perhaps we should just ignore it?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • kris_b,

    I note that for my school, they only link to an old ERO Report from 2008, not the latest one from 2011. Seems to be the case for a few others I quickly checked too.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2012 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    I find myself asking instead of making meaningless comparisons, as a parent, well then what is going to ensure that children everywhere get a quality education?

    The answer I come up with is, "A change of government".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • mic weevil, in reply to DexterX,

    The answer I come up with is, "A change of government".

    That's been the standard answer to a lot of my questions lately...

    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    In a week when the Ministry of Education can describe closing schools as "rejuvenation", I no longer expect anything to make sense.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Lilith __,

    In a week when the Ministry of Education can describe closing schools as “rejuvenation”, I no longer expect anything to make sense.

    Y’know Lilith that they have to kill the hamlet to save it. That phrase has been in my mind all week. Maybe it’s because this government’s actions are so reminiscent of the worst of the Nixon/Reagan years.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Hebe,

    Y’know Lilith that they have to kill the hamlet to save it

    How much more Orwellian can things get?

    On tonight’s TV1 news Paraka quoted: “It’s widely agreed that post-earthquake changes to Chch’s schools are necessary”. Love that passive voice. Who is doing all this agreeing? And like it’s out of her hands, nothing to do with her.

    Sorry, not meaning to derail the thread. It’s just all so insane.

    Be great if the govt would let the teachers get on with teaching the kids and stop all this fiddling and meddling and pointless testing.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I suppose there is one thing that is refreshing, a bunch of meaningless numbers that don't have dollar signs in front of them for a change.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Hebe,

    Maybe it’s because this government’s actions are so reminiscent of the worst of the Nixon/Reagan years.

    Or even Sir Joh, maybe?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5434 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Well, no, these numbers won’t let you “measure the teachers” at all, HoS editors. You just concocted that angle to play on a popular prejudice.

    But their teachers levitate

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Lilith __,

    On tonight’s TV1 news Paraka quoted:

    That is a very good shortened name. Hekia + Parata = Paraka. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to John Farrell,

    Perhaps we should just ignore it?

    Welll said. I'd concentrate on the closures and don't let them sidetrack you with this stupid NACT divisive ideology.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • lynne walker,

    Well it seems that the question should be why are there such large differences when looking at the results of Pasifika and Maori students in particular.
    This information has been around for a long time, so National Standards don't help provide any solutions. Looking at schools that move kids along faster, that can help, but not by making it a comptetitive thing.
    Also the focus on measurement of only a few areas. Professor Gluckman has stated that children being able to self regulate is one of the most important factors in developing a more cohesive social society. Schools are not having time to focus on this due to the pressure placed by national standards. Look at who is being stood down. We are looking at complex issues here.
    England tried this method of measurement and it has failed miserably there, so why are we doing this.
    I think the current debate about poverty and the results in lower Decile schools should be looked at . I don't understand why we are not directly debating those links. It's not the whole answer, but come on.
    Also how teacher training stacks up these days, the quality of it, the depth of it, the time to practice while training.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2011 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Lilith __,

    In a week when the Ministry of Education can describe closing schools as "rejuvenation", I no longer expect anything to make sense.

    To have used the word "rejuvenation" is to imply that the govt got it wrong and is having to make adjustments - this is inidcative of an inability of someone in mined to accept two contradictory beliefs simultaneously - which is of itself ungood.

    The word is "juvenannihilation" - to make a thing doubleplusgood from resources made available.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DexterX,

    too down, he said cryptically...

    The answer I come up with is,
    “A change of government”.

    I too, have an answer to a change of government
    - having cast the characters,
    and spun up the angramaphone -
    the answer to
    a change of government is...
    (the very apt descriptive)...
    <sfx> drum roll</sfx>
    ventmonger

    it is after all
    the only things
    they seem to do now,
    make and sell cuts,
    cleave communities,
    disgorge hot air,
    and bile,
    arseholes...
    traders, raiders
    wheeler dealers,
    wheedlers, stealers...

    grrrr....


    </wrongsideofbed>

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Lilith __,

    A Liddell logic...

    In a week when the Ministry of Education can describe closing schools as “rejuvenation”, I no longer expect anything to make sense.

    Yeah verily, indeed!
    It has sent an 'Alas, through the Looking Class...'

    or the the whole thing may just be more of Juvenal's biting social satire coming back to bite us (large parts of him are at the heart of 'rejuvenation') ...

    Anyway Trader Key Co is just playing the old 'create-a-big-problem-then-cut-it-back-in-the-face-of-inevitable-outrage-to-more-than-they-could-have-got-by-fair-negotiation' scam, again.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DexterX,

    The word is “juvenannihilation”

    drow!

    (word up!)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    (word up!)

    NACTShundenial's Standards.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to lynne walker,

    I think the current debate about poverty and the results in lower Decile schools should be looked at . I don't understand why we are not directly debating those links.

    Rodney Hide knows all about this. It's because poor families don't care enough. You can tell cos they don't eat porridge.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19729 posts Report Reply

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