Archive for May 2011

Talk-ED: Episode 1 – Starting the Journey

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
30 May 2011
 

If this was television then today we start a three episode mini-saga, a story of inevitable success and failure in which those in power and with power know what to do but find it difficult to get things right. It is a story of real human tragedy and real human joy; it leads to the best that our blessed country can achieve and to the very worst.

Folks this is the story of the three dots. Those critical markers in education. The milestones along the educational journey to a bright future in which there are jobs and income, and civic participation, and better health and housing and happiness. Not just for some, but for all.

                         Dot 1: Early Childhood Education                     

It is rather obvious that if you wish to reach your destination it is a good idea to get on the train. In education, the best start you can have is to have access to two years of quality early childhood education. This is defined as 15 hours per week with trained teachers in a well-equipped and safe environment.

We do not achieve this equitably in New Zealand currently. National levels of access look quite good and the trends are promising but there are too many pockets in our population where access is very low. This was emphasised by the Minister of Education in announcing the new funding being made available to address this.

Ironically at the same time there were complaints from responsible sources that there was a worrying trend of young people having too much access. It seems that some little ones are in early childhood centres for 40 hours a week over five years leading to a total of 10,000 hours before the age of five. The two years quality rule would lead to 1,500 hours. If a little one is spending over eight hours a day in a centre for five years, it can only mean that the imperatives of employment are placing parents into the situation where they either have little choice or they make that choice because they are able to. It is being questioned whether being a fulltime ECE student from age 0 = a few months until the age of five is desirable.

That might be true but a net result of this is that places are then not available for others.

And that is a major impact of the 20 free hours early childhood education policy that seemed so promising and forward-looking when it was introduced. It even seemed better when the restrictions on access to it were removed by taking away the means testing. But whereas once a young parent could afford X hours of care to return to work, they could now afford X + 20 hours. In this way the 20 hours free policy has not operated to allow an increased number of little ones access to ECE but has rather allowed the same number of little ones to have increased access. This loose policy needs review urgently and the resources targeted much more carefully.

But access is controlled to a large extent by where early childhood centres are. The best indicator of desirable location is where the large, flash, private centres are built. They are liberally dotted through the rich suburbs and avoid with a vengeance any presence in the poor suburbs. Private centres go where the money is and leave the state to cater for the little ones in other communities. It is in those other communities where the needs are greatest both economically and educationally.

At a recent education summit in Auckland, Dr Peter Gluckman emphasised the need for ECE as the mechanism for laying down the non-cognitive behaviours that were so critical to education and which were developed in those early years. In fact he was critical of the emphasis in early childhood education on cognitive skills at the expense of these non-cognitive areas. It is the non-cognitive skills that build the foundation for much of the success that people enjoy in their journey and certainly it is at the heart of educational success. Research associated with the Head Start programme in the USA seems consistently to point to the long-term benefits of participation in this programme aimed at increasing access to early childhood education for disadvantaged little ones and the development of non-cognitive skills is emphasised in many studies. It is not the teaching reading and writing that makes ECE important, it is the development of non-cognitive skills.

It ought to be possible in New Zealand for us to achieve full universal access to early childhood education. The equity gap between those who do get access and those who don’t simply has to be closed if we are serious about starting little ones on the journey to educational success.

A bizarre note on which to finish. This week it was reported that videoconferencing via Skype has been introduced at eight Universal Childcare centres around Australia. The aim is to give working parents and grandparents more face-to-face time with the children. Really?

So, dot one is that all New Zealand children will have access to two years of quality early childhood education.

Episode 2 on Thursday:      Crossing the Prairie

Talk-ED: Thrilling ourselves by degrees

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
25 May 2011

Excuse me if I sound a but out of breath as I write this – it’s graduation week and we have all those exciting ceremonies and events that all take time. But it’s time well spent because in so many ways this week is what it is all about. It is the moment for staff and students to put on their best clothes, adorn themselves with academic finery and strut their stuff.

I cannot help be reminded of the “first-in-family” impact of what we are seeing at each ceremony. There are many young ones in the audience. I used to think of the first in family as a linear force that affected each of the family that came behind the pioneering graduate. But more and more I think that the appropriate metaphor for the impact is that of a cluster bomb.

The impact of a first-in-family graduate is not linear but multi-directional – it doesn’t just affect those who come behind, the sons, daughters and grandchildren, but also the aunts and uncles, the cousins, nieces and nephews, perhaps even the neighbours. This deserves more careful study.

So 1,000 graduates who are first-in-family students might well influence the futures of 10,000 others? More? Whatever it is it is significant and perhaps this is where investment could be made. Here’s an idea: a first-in-family graduate is given a voucher for say $15,000 that can only be used on the post-secondary education and training of immediate family members. There would need to be rules around this but it certainly could be done. The money is held in trust by the provider from which the student graduates and is then cashed in at any registered tertiary education institution as required.

This would have an additional impact to that created by the additional income that a graduate is assured of. A study reported this week in Washington that a graduate with a bachelor’s degree could expect to earn 74% more than someone whose highest qualification is a high school diploma (which equals NCEA Level 2). If they have a postsecondary qualification above a bachelors degree those earnings are 84% higher that the high school graduate.

The report notes that tertiary education institutions have had a different purpose since about the 1970s – “they are no longer conforming to the image held by some of large liberal arts institutions in which everyone sits on the lawn and reads Shakespeare.” They are now highly vocational institutions. In fact Anthony Carnavale, author of the study, notes that college in the US is being linked much more closely with future occupations. He also notes that there are clear and significant the differences between degrees in different disciplines in terms of lifetime income.

But the overall message of the report is that Bachelor degrees are worth it, they will position those who graduate so that they can earn a family sustaining income and be advantaged financially over their lifetime.

Finally I note the ages of those who graduate. Degree study is not the preserve of the young nor should it be. A girl being born in Auckland this year can expect to live to between 97 and 100 years of age. The old paradigm of educate, work, retire, die is being replaced by a much more cyclical profile for living with the cycle of educate and work being repeated. I think that is what they mean by “lifelong learning” – it must mean being equipped for these periodic learning episodes. If it simply means that each and every waking moment is filled with learning it is too trite for words. The new world has us all earning and learning over and over again.

Oh yes, graduations are a great thrill and a great stimulus. I love them. The medieval clothing, the ceremony, the singing. My only regret is that the hymn Gaudeamus Igitur no longer features as much. The web tells me that the song is “an endorsement of the bacchanalian mayhem of student life while simultaneously retaining the grim knowledge that one day we will all die. The song contains humorous and ironic references to sex and death”. Goodness me, I have only sung the first and last verse which are a wonderful set of sentiments.

 

Gaudeamus igitur

Iuvenes dum sumus.

Post iucundam iuventutem

Post molestam senectutem

Nos habebit humus.

 

Let us rejoice, therefore,

While we are young.

After a pleasant youth

After a troubling old age

The earth will have us.

 

Vivat academia!

Vivant professores!

Vivat membrum quodlibet;

Vivant membra quaelibet;

Semper sint in flore.

 

Long live the academy!

Long live the professors!

Long live each student;

Long live the whole fraternity;

For ever may they flourish

 

That last verse is such a statement. I go home from each graduation wanting each of our graduates to flourish and for their families to experience the academy.

Pathways-ED: Nudge it, Budget, Fudge it!

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
20 May 2011

We are a strange mob in education all right!

Yesterday we had a budget that was relatively sobering for most in the community, modest gains if any and cuts to our savings scheme. In amongst all that there was a glimmer of good news in the education area. But still the response was negative.

2.92% increase in operating grants. “Not enough. Won’t keep up with inflation.” No, but it gets closer to it that would a zero increase.

Money into the ECE area. “Not enough, centres will have to raise fees.”

And so it went on. Are the education organisations in New Zealand and the media that constantly seeks views from them incapable of noting the things which deserve praise from the levels of muted to wholesome?

The targeting on the increased spending is worthy of quite wholesome praise. Increased spending on the much vaunted Te Kotahitanga programme. It has been one of the success stories in Maori education with significant flow on to all students. It changes the way we behave and the way we think and the way we teach all of which can bring better results for students. Are we reluctant to praise this simply because an implication of it that we as teachers can do better? I hope not because we don’t know what we don’t know and programmes like this expand our knowledge and broaden our horizons and sometimes even turn us in the right direction.

The continuing support and increased funding for the Youth Guarantee is also worthy of wholesome praise. This government appears to understand something that continues to escape other governments in other countries and quite a number of researchers and educators: the issue with disengagement and educational failure can only be addressed by our working differently. Do the same and get the same. That is not only unpalatable from a social equity position but also a considerable risk from an economic point of view.

To support the new and growing focus on secondary / tertiary interface programmes such as trades academies and service academies and on pathways that have the potential to ease the passage of some students away from possible and perhaps probable failure to success seems to me to be a good investment which will avoid continued waste of resources (cash and human) and teacher effort not to mention the downstream costs of social dysfunction and dislocation.

The broadband investment – good.

The history of education demanding additional resources without a commitment to improve results started back in the 1960s when school were under pressures due to numbers. Once we were on top of the reasons changed but the cry remained the same – “Give us the resources and we will do the job!” Well, fifty years later is apparent across the English speaking world that the education system has done what it can do exceedingly well and, in fact, in New Zealand as good as any system in the world. But increasingly the areas in which performance has not been sound, and these are now explicit and widely understood, we have simply continued to do what we do with the same results.

The budget directs resources at key pressure points in the schooling sector – ECE and pathways through senior secondary schools. Similarly in tertiary education, the increased funding the funding addresses English language issues, the general increase (Ok it is only 2.0%) for degree and postgraduate courses, the strengthening of export education initiatives and the provision of more doctors each seem worthy and well-directed.

Our colleagues in Christchurch are recovering from disaster, it might have been a time when the rest of us understood the need for lean pickings in terms of additional funding and new money. So on the whole, a fair analysis of the budget from an education point of view might conclude that education did not do so badly.

For more information and to register visit:

www.manukau.ac.nz/multiple.pathways   or contact   colleen.young@manukau.ac.nz

Talk-ED: Same dream, same nightmare

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
16 May 2011

There is quite a lot of current interest in transitions from the K-16 education system and postsecondary education. This is a complex area and among other things there is a focus on careers education and the kinds of advice that students seek and receive. 

A report[1] completed in 2003 challenged the extent to which the USA education systems had met their end of the bargain in helping students manage that transition. In fact the report’s title makes clear how the authors concluded that they had not – “Betraying the dream.” One interesting table catalogues some common misconceptions about preparing for and attending postsecondary institutions especially university. The myths that might well apply to our education system are: 

            I can’t afford to go to university 

The report found that US students regularly overestimated the cost of going to university. 

            I have to be a stellar athlete or student to get financial aid 

This has a particular US flavour to it with the extensive sports programmes that tertiary institutions have. In fact there is a wide range of financial aid available to students. Do students in New Zealand have accurate information about the costs, the costs of borrowing through student loans and the assistance available through allowances? Do students understand these to such an extent that they can explain them to their caregivers? 

            Meeting high school graduation requirements will prepare me for university  

There is generally a discrepancy between high school graduation levels and the entry requirements into tertiary institutions and into some programmes within them. In New Zealand it seems as is NCEA Level 2 is emerging as a “School Leaving Standard” which would equate to the US high school graduation (a term not used in this country). 

            Getting into college is the hardest part 

Have we got news for you! For most students the hardest part will be completing the tertiary course – many don’t! 

            Community colleges don’t have academic standards 

Is this a perception that New Zealand students have of, say, polytechnics? The community college has similarities to our polytechnics (although the NZ institutions offer a more extensive set of qualifications that are longer and at a higher level than the typical two year qualifications of the US community college – but the open access is common to both. Is this part of the process that sees some New Zealand students ostensibly headed towards a university programme for which they are ill-prepared? 

            It’s better to take easier classes in high school and get better grades 

Success in taking tougher courses in high school is a constant predictor of success later – merely harvesting credit is no substitute for a sound academic preparation for higher and further education. 

            My senior year in high school doesn’t matter 

You would think sometimes, what with balls of both the sporting and the dancing kind that this myth is well and truly alive in New Zealand! Should some students be moving through the senior school more quickly? 

            I can take whatever classes I want when I get to university 

It is all a little bit tighter than students understand. Some universities have lifted their general entry standard so that it is higher than the plain “University Entrance”, many courses have particular requirements. These should be known by students well in advance of course selection in the final two years of school. 

And this raises an important question. Are students encouraged to think about the detail of their future pathway, especially those who are headed towards university? Do they understand the detail of it all? Is the importance of those last two years at school in terms of future success at university well understood? Or do too many students simply drift toward their postsecondary futures? 


[1] Andrea Venezia,  Michael W. Kirst, and Anthony L. Antonio (2003) Betraying the college dream: How disconnected K-12 systems undermine student aspirations, The Standford Institute for Higher Education Research.

Pathways-ED: Good, better, best, goodness me

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
12 May 2011

 About a year ago there was quite a lot of chatter about accountability in tertiary education. There had been introduced into New Zealand the Education Performance Indicators which were a simple list of performance indicators that scored New Zealand’s Polytechnics and Institutes of Technology on five different areas. And, shock upon horror, they would be published in the newspaper.

Just like some earthquake predictions the dreaded day arrived and little happened, that evening the sun set and the next morning the sun rose and I swear I heard a bird burst into song just a day after the EPI’s revealed that some institutions were excellent, some were poor and some were more of a curate’s egg. Those who were good found ways of alluding to the results in a modest show of whatever they thought was the opposite of boasting. Those who were poor simply carried on doing what they were doing which is largely why they were in the position they were on the league tables.

It comes of a disappointment probably to those who would promote such schemes, but the impact and usefulness of such approaches have little impact outside of the institutions. Issues of whether the “results” are used responsibly are misused recklessly or are trunked into league tables is, therefore, largely a matter that is over to the institutions themselves. It is not, in such circumstances, why it is done to us but rather what we do to ourselves.

So the university sector in Australia might well relax over the impending introduction of the My University web site which will report the performance of tertiary institutions in Australia (or at least some of them). I predicted this development about 2 years ago; once the My School website had got underway in Australia it was only a matter of time before the universities received similar treatment.

A spirited but reasoned discussion in HERDSA News[1] from Marcia Devlin saw both good and bad in the development. The site would provide some measure of accountability for public funding, student performance was of interest to the punters, it would dispel some of the mystery of universities and it would encourage the institutions to better explain what they do to the wider community. Well, some of that might well be true but certainly the criticism are well founded – the comparing oranges with cucumbers argument, the summarising of generalisations of statistical overviews reductio ad absurdum, comparisons with other attempts such as NAPLAN and presumably My School.

We know all this so I ask the following questions:

Who cares? Answer: We do.

Who is most likely to misuse the site and other such ranking exercises? Answer: us.

Who will throw themselves into the league table game? Answer: We will!  Of course the rather crude attempts to disguise this will take the form of press releases in which institutional leaders will reluctantly accept that they are the best institution. Where research is weak, teaching will be claimed as the special interest. Where student performance is poor there will be a dignified silence.

For the fact is that the real league tables are in the hearts and minds of those in the profession not in the newspapers. Parity of esteem is in tatters because of the behaviour of those in the profession not because some journalist (both print and web) uncritically accepts a pile of statistics that are probably dubious and certainly not the whole picture and tries to produce a shock horror story.

All developments such as those public reporting web sites, newspaper tables and league tables should all be given the respect they deserve.

For more information and to register visit:

www.manukau.ac.nz/multiple.pathways   or contact   colleen.young@manukau.ac.nz

 

 


[1]
Marcia Devlin, “Recent Policy Developments in Australian Higher Education” in HERDSA News, Volume 33 No. 1, April 2011

You are invited to a National Symposium

 

You are invited to a National Symposium

The interface between secondary school and tertiary has become a focus as New Zealand seeks to extend educational success to a wider group and to higher levels. This has led to the policies and developments which are exploring new ways of working. This symposium will offer an opportunity for educators to get up-to-date information about developments such as trades academies and service academies, other successful programmes such as tertiary high schools and Trades in School, and policies such as Youth Guarantee. 

  • What is possible within existing frameworks?
  • How can secondary schools and tertiary providers work together?
  • What will bring more success to increased numbers of young people?

The symposium will give participants an opportunity to meet and hear from those actually delivering innovative programmes at the interface between secondary and tertiary education, leaders in the fields of engagement and multiple pathways and from those at the leading edge of future development. It will also provide opportunities to consider the barriers, the issues and the changes posed by innovation in this area.

We are pleased to announce the following Keynote Speakers:

Hon Anne Tolley                      Minister of Education

Minister Anne Tolley has responsibility within the New Zealand Government for the schools sector and she has been a key force behind the Youth Guarantee policy which seeks to provide a wider range of opportunity for students who would benefit from alternative pathways through their senior secondary school years.

Arthur Graves                           Deputy CEO, Whitireia Community Polytechnic, ex Principal

Arthur Graves has been a secondary school principal, ius currently Deputy CE of Whitireia Community Polytechnic and recently spent some time in the Ministry of Education working on the Youth Guarantee Policy.  He was also a previous Chair of the New Zealand Principals Council. He brings to his presentation at the symposium a balance of forward thinking and a realistic appreciation of the settings into which change is sought and the difficulties raised for school leaders

Professor David Conley            University of Oregon

David Conley is Director of the Centre for Educational Policy Research (CEPR) at the University of Oregon. His areas of teaching and research include the high school-to-college transition, standards-based education, systemic school reform, educational governance, and adequacy funding models.  In 2003, Dr Conley completed a groundbreaking three-year research project to identify the knowledge and skills necessary for college readiness called Standards for Success. This project analysed course content at a range of American research universities to develop the “Knowledge and Skills for University Success” standards. In 2005, he published College Knowledge: What It Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready, based on this research. In 2010 he published College and Career Ready which summarises recent research he has conducted on this topic. 

Dr Conley is a major figure in the field of school to post-secondary transitions. He will be attending the symposium for the two days and looks forward to meeting New Zealand teachers and administrators.

Dr Stuart Middleton                    Director, MIT Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways

Stuart Middleton is well known as an education commentator and his involmenet in the field of transitions from secondary to posy-secondary education has been as a Fulbright New Century Scholar in 2007 – 2008 when he had opportunities to work with an international group in such issues and out of which he developed the principals ands broad outline of a new way of working – the Tertiary High School – which opened at Manukau Institute of Technology in 2010. In 2010 he established the Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways which will develop as a centre of excellent, development and support for initiatives which better link schools to post-secondary education and training and develop pathways for students to head towards and into the world of work.

 Developing Pathways: Leading students to success

 

Dates:        18th – 19th July 2011

Venue:       Manukau Institute of Technology

Cost:          $295.00 (including Dinner)

Website:    www.manukau.ac.nz/multiple.pathways

Contact:    Colleen Young, Administrator Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways,

                      colleen.young@manukau.ac.nz or phone:  09 968 7631

 

                        Only 150 places available.  To avoid disappointment, please register early.

  

Pathways-ED: A parity of esteem… or parody of esteem?

Stuart Middleton
EDTalkNZ
5 May 2011

 

I have just returned home after a Vocational Education and Training (VET) conference in Melbourne, the AVETRA Conference, and very good it was too with interesting papers, good keynotes and a lively atmosphere. But there was just one thread that I struggled to understand – the constant worry about parity of esteem between the VET sector and the university sector. There seemed almost to be insecurity about the standing of the VET sector in Australia and of the extent to which work in it was valued. There was a consistent feeling that comparisons between the VET sector and the University sector inevitably stacked up to the disadvantage of those engaged in applied learning in the trades and other career and professional activities. I was constantly wondering whether the situation was the same here in New Zealand.

I think it is time we all got past the whole sector thing. If the universities have put themselves on a pedestal it is jolly well time they got down where people are made of flesh and bones rather than marble. And it is also time for the VET Sector to put well behind them the old cloth cap image of themselves as workers who took their shoes off before they entered the academy.

There are a number of reasons for this. The universities have been increasingly vocational for a long time – what could be more vocational than preparing for a medical career, or completing a degree in town planning, or getting an MBA? Look at the fuss last week when an Australian university determined that in the interests of its student getting a “university education” they would first complete a general degree rather than a targeted vocational degree. A degree in the arts, or in the sciences, or in the humanities was the staple diet of a university school person. I always recall a teacher who was critical of my completing a DipEd early in my career – “gentlemen have ‘MA’ after their names, teachers have “MA DipEd’,” he said with barely disguised contempt. Of course this was before the universities lusted after market share and vocationalised most of their programmes and increased three year degrees to four year degrees to maximise income against the marketing spend. Oh dear, it has all been a sorry story.

So I cannot fathom why those who work in the VET Sector feel envious of their university colleagues, for colleagues they are as they toil away in complementary post-secondary areas. Of course just as the universities have come out of the front room and tried to take over the kitchen, the VET Sector has been unable to hide its pretentions to dine at the top table.

In these aspirations, academics in the VET Sector will always be at something of a disadvantage because so many of them are working in the VET Sector as a second career. Success in the applied area of a discipline is often a necessary precursor to a second successful career as a VET academic. Just on the basis of time available, a university academic probably has a bigger publication and research record by the age of 35 than a VET research could hope to have in a career in the sector. While this is hard to swallow, it is a defining characteristic of the differences between the sectors. VET researchers have to understand that being a university researcher is in fact a career in its entirety – go to any US research conference and you can see post-adolescents embarking with great enthusiasm on a career as a university researcher. And good on them.

I would also point out that parity of esteem is not about handing over to another person the power to make you feel good about yourself.  It is more about how you feel about yourself, about how you work with pride and know that your best shot is usually good enough and on many occasions when you are at your best, well ahead of this. Most importantly it is about the esteem in which students hold you for the value of your work and the care with which you teach.

Finally, if the VET Sector wants to feel valued then just let them see the importance of the work that they do to the future of the country. Certainly universities are important, not more so, but just as.

For more information and to register visit:

www.manukau.ac.nz/multiple.pathways   or contact   colleen.young@manukau.ac.nz

 

Talk-ED: The right of the community to know

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
2 May 2011

School holidays over and its back to the normal pattern. I had the chance to attend for varying lengths of time a few conferences over the past two weeks both here in NZ and in Australia.

The period has seen the publishing of NCEA results in New Zealand newspapers and despite dire predictions, civilisation once again did not come to an end. In fact I thought the response relatively muted with an almost helpful editorial in the NZ Herald.

It is still a problem that the reporting of these results is based on the percentage of students in a Year group who succeed in the anticipated “correct” NCEA level for that year. There is no requirement for perhaps even sense in relating Year 11 to NCEA Level 1,Year 12 to Level 2 and so on. The lockstep nature of this habit makes it difficult to actually know what the success is for a cohort. For instance, if 70% of a Year 11 group succeed in getting NCEA Level 1 and are then allowed to proceed to Level 2 in Year 12 and the reported success rate is 75%, the actual success rate in terms of the cohort coming through is at 56%.

But it must be inevitable that there is study at multiple levels and many students get their Level 1 in their Year 12 or even Year 13. How is this communicated?

So in reality the figures might be a pretty poor representation of what is happening with lower decile schools probably being shown as succeeding at levels that are lower than their actual achievement. Higher decile schools are probably about right. The NZ Herald editorial suggests that funding is the only way to lessen the gap between high and low decile schools. It is probably the case that the advantage of high decile schools over low decile schools is still at about 20%.

The matter of National Standards continued to get attention with a “boycott” by some primary schools. The actual number of the boycott group was a little hard to judge from reports. If every principal at that particular conference vote for the boycott then it suggests that perhaps as many as perhaps 30% of primary schools will not be reporting to the National Standards. But it is hard to tell from the reports. It might have been a small majority (and therefore only 15% of schools). It seems as if we have real issues in telling an accurate story. Many parents that I meet are very happy that their childrens’ schools are simply getting on with the job and they appreciate the additional information they are getting.

At the heart of anxieties about NCEA reporting and the National Standards is a view that it could all be damaging to schools when they are compared with each other, if they are compared with each other.

This too is the concern in Australia and a report in last Saturday’s The Australian drew my attention with a headline TEST CHEATS BLOCK THE GOALS OF EDUCATION REFORM. The reform referred to is the National Assessment Programme for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) and its associated MySchool website, a government initiative that puts all the information about a school on a website and this includes the latest NAPLAN results. But who are the cheats? There is quite a list of students who are valid omissions from the tests but schools are going beyond this to include students who might lower the reported success rate of the school. Apparently it is common. The cheats are those who lead school and instruct certain parents to keep their children at home on certain days thus removing them from that testing regime that is the NAPLAN. Apparently there is also a developing practice of preparing students for the tests – another form of cheating it is claimed. Some schools are circulating practice papers with exemplar answers.

Thank goodness that New Zealand went down a reporting road rather than a testing road, leaving the testing to the teachers and the school working in the context of their programme.

It is a mockery of professional standards when education is frustrated in reporting to the community on its performance by any lack of openness and certainly by any deliberate attempt to frustrate the system.  Those who wish not to take part would be better, rather than merely protesting, to suggest other and even better ways of getting information to the community.

Parents and caregivers want to know what is happening. Indeed it is their right.

For more information and to register visit:

www.manukau.ac.nz/multiple.pathways   or contact   colleen.young@manukau.ac.nz