Rankings happen anyway

There is probably no profession whose members spend more time and energy on assessment than teaching.

Therefore teachers must understand that good assessment looks not just at what’s achieved but how much it took to achieve it. A little progress from a child with learning difficulties could be a greater achievement than a lot of progress from someone with much greater ability.

Teachers make such assessments all the time but distrust other people’s, particularly parents’ , ability to exercise a similar level of judgement and sense if they had information on schools’ performance.

That’s part of why they are so strongly opposed to Education Minister Anne Tolley’s plans for assessment which could result in publication of information which in turn might lead to ranking of schools. They don’t trust the public to make intelligent use of the information.

But parents rank schools already, based on their own experience and others’. That’s why people in cities pay far more than a house ought to be worth to ensure their offspring are in the “right” zone for a particular school.

This concern about which school your children attend is more an urban than a rural one.

In the country there isn’t a lot of choice. If you, or your child, doesn’t like the local school the alternatives require a lot of travel or boarding.

However, if the local school isn’t up to scratch, most parents put the educational needs of their children before their own convenience. If the problems aren’t addressed – and it’s not easy to improve or remove poor teachers – the children move to another school.

The decision by several parents to bypass our local school in response to concerns over a principal which eventually led to its closure.

It doesn’t need official rankings, parents talk to each other and soon find out if there are major concerns.

Publishing schools’ performance will make that information more public it might also help identify schools with problems and get them the help they need to solve them

Dim Post has a very good Q&A on this issue.

2 Responses to Rankings happen anyway

  1. alex Masterley says:

    This months Metro did a ranking of Auckland Secondary Schools. Very interesting.


  2. Kismet says:

    I agree.

    Interestingly my sister who is a primary school teacher feels deep unease about the idea of ranking. She’s otherwise a rational person and was noted for asking far too many pertinent questions in BOT meetings when her children were in Primary School, so I imagine it is ‘exam nerves’.

    In my job I get audited regularly as part of the process and the results of these audits are available to the people it may concern. Admittedly it isn’t an issue to me as after years of the same old same old I have a good working relationship with the auditors and they profess faith in my ability to do my job properly. But I usually come out of an audit with a list of things to check in future – so it becomes part of the process to improve my work outcomes.


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