Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Standards Matter

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  • ChrisW,

    Can anyone help?
    In asking Tolley some questions, along lines suggested by Sacha and Hilary - a key one seems to be on the new funding to support schools to actually lift the education standard of those 150,000 students currently thought to be well under standard.

    I know the simple answer to be expected - $36 million additional over 3 years - and that this equates to $80 each child per year or half a day of one-to-one attention, so obviously not expected to make much difference.

    But can anyone put this in context for me with current expenditure (or annual hours of one-to-one) per student that is getting extra support within mainstream schools, on average? I understand broadly this is more like $thousands each but it would be helpful in my opportunity in two hours to "talk to Hon Anne Tolley about how National Standards will help your child" if I had a credible figure for the status quo.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    Chris, not an area I know much about. Someone previously mentioned the Education Counts stats site.

    You could always ask her that question as well, but the main thing from my perspective would be to get her talking about how they propose to use the test data to improve education, not getting tied up in numbers. I don't think most parents have heard a decent answer to the general question let alone the specific one. Good luck getting more than talking points.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Hilary Stace,

    ChrisW, that is a very interesting question. (Sorry, been away for a few hours having a large gauge out of my arm to check a tiny dot melanoma from making any progress, but public health system has worked well for me).

    I hope your meeting went well in the terms of providing some answers. The question you asked above is probably a very difficult question to find an answer to, as every self-governed school is bulk funded through its ops grant and Special Education Grant and would arrange extra support for children needing help differently. Remedial reading programmes vary from school to school as do policies for employing teacher aides. Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour have replaced the former itinerant teachers and they are organised through school clusters, and rank children requiring support in these clusters by need. Occasionally teachers call in specialist support, such as from GSE or the MoE, or private contractors.

    Payment for these would vary from the basic hourly rate of about $14 for a teacher aide to $100s for a specialist.

    There is also a standard per student figure for all students that goes to schools, but that varies according on the decile, year level and whether they are in or out of zone (out of zone students bring less money as they are theoretically physically provided for in the in-zone school they should have gone to).

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report

  • tim kong,

    Anecdata, I know. But that's a large part of the problem for many parents. We can get information about how our child is doing compared to what they should be doing for their age, but it's bloody difficult to get information about whether our children are reaching their potential.

    With respect - how does one go about identifying or evaluating "potential"?

    As a teacher - I work hard at spelling, reading, writing and maths, using group-work, one-one, and a variety of methods to enthuse and engage. We test and use as much formative data as we can.

    I encourage students to put their best effort in, reward and praise work that I see as a high standard for them, try to provide extension opportunities and avenues for students do individual work they are really passionate about - but I've yet to be able to identify and rate "potential".

    Do I say, "You have the potential to do better? You could be a great writer?"

    Maybe I'm misreading the statement though.

    It's also worth remembering that schools are sites for reproducing conformity. Be an introvert who loathes group work, a child who asks quirky questions, a child who is doing work she "shouldn't be doing yet", a kid who really doesn't give a damn about sport, and there are problems.

    Hmmm.... Yes. They can be. But they don't have be.

    Everyone remembers the piss poor teachers. That's a constant battle we as an education sector have to be honest about. And it's a separate debate IMO from this one of national standards - regardless of how Key wants to frame it.

    Let's be clear - the national standards, as they currently stand will not make good teachers better, or bad teachers any worse.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 153 posts Report

  • HenryB,

    No replies so far to my belief that our literacy rate does not depend on tests AFTER you get to school, but what happens BEFORE kids get to school - so we are defining the wrong problem, and therefore the wrong solution.

    I call bullshit on that.

    So you think literacy depends on a series of tests after someone gets to school rather than what happens before they get to school? My reading of everything you have written about your children says exactly the opposite to me. It seems to me that you paid/pay a lot of attention to your children's reading before (both in terms of age and in terms of engagement outside the classroom) they got/get to school.... and surely this must have made a huge difference to their literacy.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report

  • Hadyn Green,


    So you think literacy depends on a series of tests after someone gets to school rather than what happens before they get to school?

    I'm fairly sure that's not the bit they were calling bullshit on. But to consider that literacy would depend on the single variable of parent-child interaction is a little hard to swallow.

    There is plenty of research that shows that parents are definitely are large contributor to their childrens' learning progress but kids spend a lot of time at school, and while there they are (hopefully) learning the whole time.

    Of course tests don't increase literacy rates. Anyone suggesting such should be looked at through squinted eyes. Tests (and the multitude of other assessment methods) are done to discover the lay of the land, allowing teachers to plan the next steps for the students.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    Priceless. Look it up in the dictionary, children.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    NCEA gap closes says Salvation Army policy unit.

    Qualifications Authority data shows that the gains vary widely. Pass rates have stayed under 30 per cent at some decile one schools, such as Southern Cross in Mangere and Otara's Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate.

    At the other extreme, the most dramatic lift among South Auckland's eight decile one high schools was at the Catholic De La Salle College, where the level one pass rate in Year 11 soared from 28 per cent in 2005 to 64 per cent in 2008.

    Principal Brother Steve Hogan said all decile one high schools in the areas had benefited from extra professional development under the former "Aim Hi" programme, based on recognising that students in low-decile schools learned at widely varying rates and needed to be treated individually.

    Note the point at the end about the better figures to measure showing a more modest improvement.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Danielle,

    the former "Aim Hi" programme

    Pendant McGee says: I think there was a problem with this programme from the outset. (Oh wait, Google tells me it's actually an acronym of sorts: Achievement in Multicultural High Schools. AIMHI. In that case, I will allow it.)

    I am quite interested in this whole 'learning to read' palaver, since I've taken no real notice of it since I learned to read, um, 30 years ago. So phonetics are bad and whole-words are good? Huh.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report

  • Gordon Dryden,

    The ASCD (Association of Supervision Curriculum and Development) in the US provides a daily online summary of educational innovations as reported around the world:
    ASCD Worldwide Edition SmartBrief <ascdww@smartbrief.com>

    Today's edition has an interesting online story and videoclips on how children in some developing countries are now learning English through both mobile phones (Bangladesh) and low-cost laptops (Brazil and Uruguay):


    And for those interested in learning to be fluent in two languages BEFORE starting primary school, I've been fortunate to have a four-year association with the Thomas Jefferson Institute in Mexico. Their early childhood development program is one of the best I have found anywhere. Each of their three schools, in different cities, but linked by closed-circuit videotape, has a team of excellent educational psychologists (very practical, not BS). They work in with parents, teachers and students to provide personalised learning programs to build on obvious strengths and overcome any weaknesses — from early childhood on. All 3,600 students (from aged three to senior high school) speak English and Spanish fluently. And in each classroom, half the discussion/teaching each day is in English and half in Spanish. But, to make sure that all school-age students are fluent in both, four-and five-year-olds in the early child-development centres (note: NOT "daycare" centres) are "totally immersed in English" during school hours.

    Their new website (www.itj.edu.mx) is unfortunately mostly in Mexican (English coming), but well worth watching for those interested in designing interactive educational sites. If you open their "Vision 2015 'wheel'" on the left hand side of their home page by clicking on "modelo educativo" (educational model) in the bottom panel, you'll open an interesting interactive graphic illustrating their "2015 vision for holistic educational goals" for all their students.

    Their senior school each year produces a Broadway musical to professional standards. And about three years ago they chose to do "Wicked" before it had been translated into Spanish. So their students translated it. That not only included the obvious simple prose translations, but then making sure that all relevant sentence endings rhymed in Spanish.

    Not bad "English standards", huh?

    I've tossed this information in because, in most educational debates around the world (including New Zealand) arguments seem to revolve around "either-or" (either "Phonics" is the only way to learn English, or "whole language"; either pre-school learning is most important or school is); while "and" often provides a much better alternative ("phonics and whole language together" as great English-learning "tools", as Dr Seuss's rhymes have proven for years).

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Gordon Dryden,

    Whoops! Forgot to give the web address of Thomas Jefferso Institute in Mexico (Instituto Thomas Jefferson):


    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • ChrisW,

    Tolley did indeed wish to talk to us at her meeting in Gisborne.

    Modest turnout of 50 or so, including a good few teachers. She gave a presentation emphasising the problems -
    - The long tail of 20% leaving school without sufficient literacy and numeracy to function in a modern society, equating to 150,000 in the system
    - The many international measures of where NZ stands in education achievement but she's particularly keen on PIRLS where we've stood still in reading achievement over recent decades and consequently fallen drastically in international ranking as the rest of the world accelerates away from us.
    - The ERO report that 70% of teachers are "excellent", while the rest were "not so good, in fact, some of the language was very strong" [a classic false binary distortion - all better than 'adequate' are elevated to excellent, while 'adequate' and the ?10% worse than that are all implicitly condemned, and the message taken, as intended, is that 30% of teachers are useless. ]

    The new national standards for reading writing and maths year by year are in place and everyone's happy with them. But she stated repeatedly that there is to be no national testing against those standards, in particular involving tests on a specific day - all suggestions to the contrary are from misinformation out there.

    She emphasised the multiplicity of testing and assessment regimes that are in place within different schools, that these will be used to report on each child's position and progress relative to the national standards in prescribed standardised formats currently under development. These will be the basis for the new improved reporting to parents featuring the "Plunket" graphs we all understand, all the other stuff too but in plain language.

    Several anecdotes on how National Standards will lift performance - she's seen schools that have used such systems for ten years, and little Johnny has taken her up to his chart(s) displayed on the wall and shown her his progress proudly, and this is what he has to do to get to the next level, and over here, this is where his friend Matthew is at.
    One of her three bright children was allowed to cruise through school, but such cruising will now show up on reports, and so can be addressed. (She was later asked a question on how this would be shown, and answered that the graphs would show it as flat-lining - ironically this while the example Plunket graph she'd left on the screen had only one band for "above standard" while two bands for below and well below standard.) [This graph with National Party logo on it is clearly the source of the mischievous misinformation mentioned up-thread that there that is to be an asymmetric emphasis on underachievement rather than boosting higher achievers too.]

    In two-thirds of schools, the principal and senior staff have not been assessing progress of children in Yrs 1 and 2. Now they will be enabled and required to, and principals/Boards will have the information on which to make decisions if there are problems [by implication non-performing teachers, as well as extra resourcing needs - let's do without a year 6 teacher and put another onto Year 1.]

    How the individual reports against standards are to be compiled, and made available or used outside the individual schools is being considered by a working group. So implementation of this aspect is delayed till after, so this year within schools only, 2012 for national reporting [I think she means using 2011 data, but it will be after the 2011 election so let's say 2012.]

    She emphasised that there is much more variance in student achievement within schools than between schools. Comparing schools, well it's tricky but we all do it, the media loves league tables - mumble not the plan - working group - let's wait and see on that.

    Last year's Budget provided funding for focus this year on professional development of teachers and principals on implementing the National Standards; and $36 million over three years starting next to address the needs of struggling students.

    So, National Standards - not the answer to everything but with great emphasis, a powerful, powerful tool for improving the education of NZers.

    Questioning - fairly low-key for the most part. One teacher supportive of the National Standards themselves, but with clear concerns on the multi-dimensional apples and oranges problem in comparing schools - to which the only answer is and was mumble working group. Other teachers reticent I think in the context. No one took up the point that the graphs might equally be de-motivating for "struggling students".

    I questioned how achievement was to be raised in the long tail if there was only $36 million over 3 years/150,000 students = $80 each per year. She agreed rather frankly I thought that this was effectively nothing, but the other mechanisms as above would be powerful.

    I asked whether the mixed messages from the top might have led to the focus of concern on "national testing" and league tables - John Key's reference to national testing at the policy launch for example, and on the back page of the National Party pamphlet we held, immediately below his photo and PM's message the rhetorical question "Do you want to know how your child's school is performing in National Standards when compared with other schools?". But no, the misinformation it seems is all down the union, which does not speak for the good teachers and principals she knows.

    If underperforming teachers were a major part of the problem, could there be more benefit from focus there? It can't be sorted in 3 years, more a 10-20 year problem and the standard of teachers at the outset is surely a key, meaning a need to increase the status of teachers to make it a more attractive career? No, we've gotta make do with what we've got.

    Could the extra pressure on teachers and schools from the scrutiny relating to National Standards lead to distortions in assessments, and over-focus on the narrow parts of the curriculum being assessed and reported this way, to the detriment of broader education? Neatly side-stepped - but where does this pressure come from? - from the community? Surely that's a good thing, that's the essence of Tomorrow's Schools, that the school should be responsive to the needs of its community. Now this chap here is dying to ask me a question ...
    And wrapped up at 7pm sharp.

    The politics are very strange - that this from the National Party campaigning for its policy which is being implemented while still in development, rather than from the government that knows what it is doing. (Sort of like their tax policy really.) But low-key meeting - I stood out far enough without going there as well.

    Well, I'm not a journalist either and can't work evenings or meet my own deadlines like 9am, but hope this belated report of proceedings is of interest and use to others. I've sorted the earlier query on the baseline of current support relative to the $12M p.a - will provide separately.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report

  • 3410,

    It's Friday, so allow me to drop this vid.
    (Audio sucks, but otherwise great.)

    NZ Book Council - Going West:

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report

  • stephen clover,

    a classic false binary distortion - all better than 'adequate' are elevated to excellent, while 'adequate' and the ?10% worse than that are all implicitly condemned, and the message taken, as intended, is that 30% of teachers are useless.

    .. and that's frankly fucking evil of them to distort the statistics to do that. Now every halfwit Kiwiblog reader slash talkback-radioer is all "Well, a third of teachers are useless" and if you ask them, "how do you figure that, then" the reply: "I know cos my friend John Key told me". And do you think they can be swayed by logic, reason, ration, or just plain good maths? Not on your life. It's like they WANT to believe that.


    wgtn • Since Sep 2007 • 355 posts Report

  • giovanni tiso,

    Well, I'm not a journalist either

    Obviously not, that was far too thorough.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report

  • Deborah,


    So you think literacy depends on a series of tests after someone gets to school rather than what happens before they get to school?

    Of course not. But there has been a clear failure with respect to my daughter's literacy, and I'm very, very tired of the school side-stepping any responsibility for it, because we did, and do, all the right things, including modifying what we're doing to fit the particular child's needs. But I need the school to come to the party too, and it's part of their job. I'm pretty pleased with what they're doing this year, but it's taken an on-going effort from me to get them to even acknowledge that there might be a problem.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report

  • ChrisW,

    On my question of how the new funding of $36 million over 3 years or $80 dollars per "struggling student" per year stacks up in the context with current expenditure (or annual hours of one-to-one) per student that is getting extra support within mainstream schools, on average - Sacha pointed me to the Education Counts site where prominent is this 2009 report "Survey of Special Education Resourcing", based on a very large survey of primary to secondary schools and taking account of all sources of resourcing, in the latter half of 2007.

    It's hard work extracting the info from this report, but having done so and to avoid wasting the effort (apologies for thoroughness) -

    Comparable to the needs of struggling students who are in the "well below standard" bucket would I think be the least needy Category 4 of this study, needing moderate or high (not very high) intervention over less than 3 years, and comprising 10% of the roll in the schools surveyed (Table 4.1 p.38).

    Table 5.7 p.145 indicates mean expenditure (at standardised rates) of $1917 per student in schools with less than 25% of roll with special needs (so mainstream schools) $771 each where 25-49%. The student-weighted mean of these two will be much nearer the higher figure, say $1750, but there's a trick - this for only two terms, so annually $3500 per student.

    So $80 new funding - Tolley had it right, effectively nothing.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    What Gio said. Superb work, Chris. I hope passing journos build on it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Hadyn Green,

    a classic false binary distortion - all better than 'adequate' are elevated to excellent, while 'adequate' and the ?10% worse than that are all implicitly condemned, and the message taken, as intended, is that 30% of teachers are useless.

    The ERO report (which I totally happened to have open) says:

    In contrast [to the 70% who are doing well], the remaining 30 percent of teachers had little or no sense of how critical it was for children to develop confidence and independence in early reading and writing. These teachers had minimal understanding of effective reading and writing teaching, set inappropriately low expectations and did not seek opportunities to extend their own confidence in using a wider range of teaching practices

    Sadly the Minister's quote above does, as you say, make it sound more of a quantitative statement. Also, there is the caveat, that the ERO report is only about Year 1 and 2 teachers in Reading and Writing.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Even kids who start school as fluent readers have a long way to go before they can become adult readers (or writers or mathematicians etc). If they are coming home tired, discouraged and unmotivated because school isn't working for them then there may be precious little even the most dedicated parent can do to improve their academic progress.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report

  • ChrisW,

    Hadyn -

    The ERO report (which I totally happened to have open) says:

    In contrast [to the 70% who are doing well], the remaining 30 percent of teachers had little or no sense of how critical it was for children to develop confidence and independence in early reading and writing. These teachers had minimal understanding of effective reading and writing teaching, set inappropriately low expectations and did not seek opportunities to extend their own confidence in using a wider range of teaching practices

    indeed looks like an oops on my part, at first sight. I was relying on a clear statement of the ERO report's real findings by a school principal in earnest conversation (with someone else) immediately prior to the meeting.

    I've read the ERO report on teaching of reading and writing in Years 1 & 2 myself now.

    The quote is from the Overview (= executive summary), but it's not supported by the body of the report.

    The quantitative data in the body of the report and its appendices and methodology as described is about schools. All Tables express data in terms of percentages of schools. Strangely, however, four of the eight graphs are presented as depicting percentages of teachers, but in each case the associated text makes it clear the percentages are of schools, as for the other four graphs, and as more credibly required considering the report as a whole.

    Half the schools are ‘small’ with only one or two teachers of Years 1 and 2. So the discrepancy between percentage of teachers and percentage of schools will be large. Again, there is no sign in this report of any data being compiled in relation to numbers of teachers.

    So the quantitative statement in the Overview that 30 percent of [Year 1 & 2] teachers had "minimal understanding of effective reading and writing teaching" involves mistakenly taking some sort of average of confused percentages relating to other things from the body of the report and attaching it to anecdotal observations of a small number of teachers.

    To get all binary on it, looks like ERO : fail. Who reviews the reviewers?

    Perhaps not necessarily evil of Tolley to use the ERO report's 'findings' on 'teachers' the way she has, more ill-advised?

    A curiosity - the school principal I heard was quoting from the ERO report's Figure 1 - overall quality of teaching of reading is 'high' or 'good' in 69% of schools, 'adequate' in 21%, 'limited' in 10% but mistakenly stated these figures as relating to teachers. Looks like it's a standard error. Statistics - pah!

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report

  • HenryB,

    So the quantitative statement in the Overview that 30 percent of [Year 1 & 2] teachers had "minimal understanding of effective reading and writing teaching" involves mistakenly taking some sort of average of confused percentages relating to other things from the body of the report and attaching it to anecdotal observations of a small number of teachers.

    Perhaps ERO reports ought to be given the same sort of witheringly critical scrutiny that the IPCC reports are. I doubt that the ERO reports would stand up for long.... Nor would we need to have ERO emails hacked to undermine their credibility: critical analysis of the reports themselves would probably be enough.

    You quite rightly ask: Who reviews the reviewers? Do the ERO make their data accessible for alternate intepretation? The methodological section is a bit short on detail and it would have been good see a sample of the way the evaluations were done.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report

  • Jackie Clark,

    You quite rightly ask: Who reviews the reviewers? Do the ERO make their data accessible for alternate intepretation?

    ERO is an interesting animal. Before they come, they tell you what it is they are focusing on, and you have to fill out a questionnaire about your practises around that focus. You can also ask them to focus on something which you feel you may do well, or an area in which you feel there have been improvements. Or, I guess, if you are a new Principal, or senior management, you can ask them to focus on something you may have concerns about. They focus on one general thing every three years - a nation wide focus. This last year it was literacy, which had been changed, incidentally, from the initial stated focus on the way in which Maori students are catered for. In the case of early childhood, most of the ERO reviewers are ex primary teachers, others have never been teachers at all. And most of them, if they were teachers, were so a reasonably long time ago. The ones I have interacted with often have no knowledge of current early childhood teaching theories, and some are very oldfashioned indeed in their interactions with the children. Culturally, they may be completely inappropriate for the setting they are assessing, and their methods of observation may reflect that cultural unknowingness. In early childhood centres, they come for a day, watch everything you do - hanging over you, being completely obtrusive, because when you're sitting on the ground working with a child you're inevitably near a chair that they sit upon, sort of a foot away from you - and ask alot of questions of (in the case of public kindergartens) the two or three of you who comprise the teaching team.They talk to parents - who you steer them towards, the ones who have indicated they are happy being talked to - and other staff who may be there - Education Support Workers, admins etc. At the end of the day, they report their findings back to you. It's all very strange, and quite intimidating. It's intense and very close scutiny of your teaching practises, your policies and procedures, the way you operate as a team, as an individual, and as a centre.
    When they are finished, they report their findings to you, as I said, and then they send you a draft report. If you don't agree to something they have written, you have a finite period of time in which to question that, or to amend the report. Then, and only then, and it can be months later, do they issue the final report, which they send to you, and put online for public scrutiny. So in some ways, it is up to the educationalists to read the draft report carefully, and amend or question the bits they don't like. Do primary/secondary teachers get a chance to look at their schools' reports, and have an input? Are primary/secondary teachers a part of the initial findings? Do they have a chance to have their point of view? In early childhood, certainly in public kindergartens in the AKA, it's a round table process with the ERO reviewers and the teaching team. I'm not confident it's that way in other places that are being evaluated. Perhaps some of my primary/secondary colleagues could shine a light? So, who does review the reviewers, apart from themselves?

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report

  • Gordon Dryden,

    Thanks, Jackie, Chris, Haydn, Henry and Sacha


    In China to qualify for university, students have to sit an entrance exam and achieve at least a 70 percent pass mark in all core subjects.

    A few years, Chinese student Jack Ma was brilliant in speaking English. He achieved that partly by buying a $2 transistor radio and listening to English-language broadcasts. And partly by studying "Crazy English", a method devised by another Chinese student, Li Yang, to become near tops in his college-entrance English exam. (You can check out Crazy English through Google and Wikipedia. It's a cross between group karaoke, a Billy Graham revivalist meeting and an Anthony Robbbins motivational course. But it actually works, especially in Asian societies where many students prefer to act together in unison. )

    So no problem with Jack's English exams: way above standard.

    But in mathematics? Appalling. First-year exam results: 1 percent.

    So Jack Ma spent the next year guiding English-language tourists around his home city, for small-change income, while swatting up on his maths. Next maths exam: 19 percent.

    Same pattern the third year, with two big exceptions:

    1. A visiting Australian family appreciated his English-language guiding so much they invited him to spend a free summer holiday with them at home. The cultural differences inspired him to specialise in global activities, using his English skills as a base.

    2. Back in China, he studied all the exam-math questions from recent years and spent hours each day memorising the main answers. Result: at last he achieved the "national standard" and passed his college entrance exams with a maths mark of 79 percent. (Studying first-year book-keeping at "night school" in Dunedin many years ago, I did something similar, passed easily — and a year later couldn't remember which was the credit and which the debit side of a financial report.)

    Jack then soared through college (in his favourite subjects) , majoring in English, earned a job teaching the subject at a Chinese university for seceral, and then (as China was now opening up to the outside world) set up a Chinese-English translation and interpreting service.

    In the mid 1990s he accompanied a Chinese trade mission to North America, and for the first time discovered the Internet. (He had hardly seen a personal computer before that, let alone the Web).

    Asking how it worked, he was told to type any word into "an internet search engine". He typed in "beer". (This IS a true story.) And up came a definition of beer, its history and several leading brands. But none from China.

    Why not? "Try typing in 'China beer'," said his guide. But when he did that the answer came up: "No data." And the same came up for many inquiries about Chinese products.

    Like New Zealand schools, China had no "national standards" for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Jack would have passed them easily.

    So back in China, after much trial and error, he set up the alibaba.com e-commerce site to sell, in English, the produced of 32 million small manufacturers to the Western world. It is now by far the world's biggest e-commerce site. And, for a guy who failed to achieve "national standards" in maths and thus accounting, he invented several ways to check and guarantee the credit-worthiness of buyers and sellers.

    Then, about the same time that Sam Morgan was setting up Trade Me in New Zealand (and later selling it for $750 million), Jack Ma set up Taobao.com—to rival, in China, the soaring success of eBay. Taobao is now by far the biggest customer-to-customer e-commerce auction and trading site in China; as Alibaba is thre world's biggest business-to-business global exchange site.

    So then Jack Ma looked at other Internet sales models: Amazon, Dell, Yahoo and then Google. Only one problem: China in the late 1990s was way behind "developed countries in the use credit cards. So Jack Ma invented his own Chinese alternative: AliPay.

    In 2007, Jack Ma and his team combined Alibaba, Taobao and PayPal into the Alibaba Group, and floated the holding company on the Hongkong Stock Exchange.

    His numbers apparently added up.

    17 percent of the company was sold that day to public shareholders, and raised US $1.5 billion at the issued price of US1.74 a share. It was the second-biggest stock-market "float" in history—second only to Google's $1.6 billion.

    By the end of the day, Alibaba shares were trading at over $US5.

    And that valued the Alibaba Group at US $26 billion.

    Jack Mad had surpassed all "international standards", by turning his talent and passion into a global success.

    And he was now one of China's richest leaders.

    "ALIBAB A: The inside story behind Jack Ma and the creation of the world's biggest online market place", by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery, Collins Business, 2009

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Tony Parker,

    Jackie I can understand how intense an ERO visit can be in Early Childhood because of the size of ECE institutions. With primary and secondary schools there are a lot more classes to get around and in the space of 3 or 4 days the reviewers get into rooms for a limited amount of time. One review here at school I didn't get a visit at all. A lot of their information is gained from the discussion had with principals, senior staff and teachers responsible for certain curriculum areas. I find too they focus heavily on compliance issues. Similar process as you outlined though for the presentation of the report to staff and the community.
    Oh well parent-teacher conferences today.....must remember to talk in plain english, no jargon, must remember to talk in plain english, no jargon, must remember to talk in plain english, no jargon,..........

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report

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