Tag Archive for community

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   [email protected]

 

 

Pathway-ED: In the name of service

Stuart Middleton
EdTalkNZ
27 April 2011

By golly, when a New Zealander comes over to Australia for a little while you never know just what you are going to find out and it makes you wonder what they are teaching in school and in the education institutions.

I have popped over to Australia (as you do) to attend a conference and arriving on the morning of ANZAC Day I hit the City of Melbourne just as it went into lock-down for the various ceremonies to take place. Apart from leading to one of the most interesting and circuitous taxi rides I have ever taken, it was quite an experience to see the hordes of people that had turned out.

  •  The newspapers and television news programmes were full of the events of the day and here are some impressions, some obtained first hand out on the streets and some second hand through the eye of the media.
  •  There were many young people out there and the media had its annual “glow with pride” about this until one eight year old took the opportunity to tell everyone and anyone who was listening that “My Dad made me come!” with that look on her face that said lots.
  •  I was astonished to see the number of non-Returned Service People who were wearing the medals of others and even marching with the old soldiers. Is this a breach of protocol? Can people wear the medals of others? Leave aside matters of taste and there must surely be some official guidelines on this or will the matter simply be decided by the practice that remains unchallenged.
  • I was even more amazed by the number of young men in suits that were sporting a full chest of a row of medals that were impressive indeed – were they wearing the medals of their older forebears? No, I was told – a very large number of soldiers have seen service with the Australian Forces and that the medals are predominantly service medals. I think quite a few of them wore them to the footy game and on to the celebrations later.
  •  A navy attachment of perhaps 50 men marched in the best traditions of the Senior Service except for one officer in the front rank who confidently marched out of step!

But perhaps the most amazing feature, and this is certainly a change from the last time I was in Australia for ANZAC Day (ten years ago?). New Zealand is virtually absent from the day – “ANZAC” means “Australian” and  the idea that this was a joint military expedition seems now to have been forgotten. Except, that is, for the rugby league between the New Zealand Warriors and the Melbourne Storm. The shared nature of the day was both emphasised and marked with discretion and good taste. On the night the New Zealand Warriors won whereas at Gallipoli no-one could claim the victory.

I have long thought that ANZAC Day deserves a re-think. Eventually and hopefully, if we can avoid adding to the numbers of returned service people by not participating in wars, we might reach a point where the parading of returned soldiers will be replaced by something else. But what? Well perhaps we can start to address the values of ANZAC Day and have a day when we celebrate in our respective countries and in our distinctive ways, those values and their expression in the community.

Foremost among them will be the value of service and what better or higher value could we devote the day to. Just as soldiers gave much in service, many others add to the quality of the lives of others through service that might not be as dangerous but in many cases is as far-reaching in its impact on the community.

Of course this notion will be greeted with a range of reactions from outrage through to a calm consideration of the idea. Better now to think about the future of ANZAC Day and to work hard over the next couple of decades to see it cemented into the fabric of each year than to see it dwindle or lose meaning simply because we had no appetite to think about it.

Three of the above bullet points suggest that the time to start thinking about this might well have arrived. I think that schools well might consider engaging the young ones in thinking about ANZAC Day when they are in command.

 

 

For more information and to register visit:

www.manukau.ac.nz/multiple.pathways   or contact   [email protected]