This isn’t an April Fools’ joke

April 13, 2018

When I saw these posts on Facebook I wondered if it was a belated April Fools’ Joke.

It’s not a joke.

The Labour-NZ First-Green government really is wasting their time and our money on a Bill that would dictate who can call themselves a teacher.

For the record teacher is defined as: a person who teaches, especially in a school; one who imparts knowledge to or instructs as to how to do something, or causes (someone) to learn or understand something by example.

You can submit on this lunacy here until midnight tonight.

Although given it’s obvious the monkeys have taken over the asylum it’s probably not worth the effort.

Advertisements

$38m wasted on dropouts

March 9, 2018

Even the very few people who think making the first year or tertiary study fee-free must acknowledge that wasting $38m on dropouts is not good use of public money:

Students aren’t paying, but the taxpayer will. According to 2013 data, 14 percent of first year university students failed to complete their studies.

In its first year, the fees free policy will cost $275 million. If 14 percent of students drop out that means a potential $38 million could be spent on them.

The Government expects more people will enrol as a result of the policy – so in its second year, it will cost $372 million.

If dropout rates remain the same, that means a potential waste of $58 million.

“The government is giving money to rich kids and wasting it,” Mr Seymour said.

The $38 million is on top of what taxpayers already cover in fees for those who drop out.

Before the fees free policy was adopted, the Government was already funding 71 percent of the $2 billion cost of tuition.

It’s ridiculous that $38m is being wasted one dropouts, it’s no better that most of the rest of this year’s $275 million is being wasted on people who would have been enrolling for tertiary education anyway.

Just think how much good that money could do if it was spent on the children failing earlier in the education system – the ones who can’t read and write.

Unlike tertiary graduates who will generally earn far more than non-graduates over their working lives, these people might never be able to get employment.

 


NCEA not achieving literacy & numeracy

March 5, 2018

The New Zealand Initiative looks at the costs of NCEA:

Ministry data shows that between 2001 and 2016 the difference between the percentage of Māori and All students achieving Level 3 (or its equivalent) has narrowed. However, in the more meaningful benchmark of University Entrance, the gap has grown even wider.

International PISA data shows that since testing began in 2002, New Zealand’s educational equity has worsened and our 15-year-olds’ reading, maths and science scores have almost constantly declined. This contrasts starkly with the same period’s NCEA data, which shows ever-improving performance and rising equity.

If NCEA data can paint a picture of constant improvement, while almost all other measures expose decline, there is reason to believe we have a problem.

Added to this, 2014 research by the Tertiary Education Commission found that within a sample of 800 Year 12 students with NCEA Level 2, 40% failed an international test of functional reading and 42% failed it in numeracy. How can students be succeeding in NCEA when they lack basic skills in reading and maths?

In pursuit of flexibility and inclusion, NCEA all but abandoned the idea of a core curriculum requirement. Instead, nowadays, students need only ten loosely defined Level 1 credits in literacy and in numeracy. Beyond this, all subjects – from meat processing to mathematics – are valued equally.

This means well-advised or motivated students can still achieve a broad and valuable education. However, for poorly-advised or less motivated students, NCEA also offers a plethora of ‘safer’ alternatives. These will maximise NCEA success by avoiding academically challenging content. With pressure on teachers and schools to drive up NCEA pass rates, some students may even be encouraged towards these safer choices.

This way, NCEA’s flexibility ensures almost all students achieve a qualification, and creates glowing headline figures for government and schools. However, the downside is that NCEA also masks huge variation in students’ achievements; it widens disadvantage while hiding it behind an alluring façade.

A system which shows improvements while literacy and numeracy rates are declining, enables pupils to take less challenging subjects that count as equal to more challenging ones, masks variations in achievements and widens disadvantages would, by NCEA’s measure get a not achieved.

It’s not just pupils who lose with NCEA:

NCEA exerts unintended negative consequences on the most important interaction in schooling: that between teacher and student.

For example, although chunking enables course flexibility, it also increases assessment volume. And because most assessment now happens internally, NCEA increases teachers’ workloads.

‘Teaching to the test’ describes the practice of coaching students in the detail of exam questions and selected content, to boost their short-term performance in assessments rather than their long-term learning. Some teaching to the test is inevitable with any high stakes assessment. However, at least three features of NCEA’s flexible design exacerbate the practice.

And NCEA doesn’t achieve for employers either:

Many employers are vexed by NCEA’s complexity and disappointed by school leavers’ skills. Although University Entrance restricts NCEA’s flexibility, too many students miss out because they fail to realise the implications of their choices. Universities also reverse-engineer NCEA data to create crude, yet life-defining rankings.

The Initiative makes seven recommendations that will:

 . . .raise expectations and equity by creating a safety-net of core subjects all students must master. They will reduce teachers’ workloads and the volume of assessment, reduce the opportunities and incentives to teach to the test, and improve teaching and learning.

Recommendation 1Raise English (and Te Reo) and maths requirements: The government should amend NCEA so that achievement at Level 1 or higher requires a minimum number of Level 1 credits in the core subjects of English (or Te Reo) and maths. This new list of eligible standards should replace the current literacy and numeracy requirements. It should also demand levels of mastery that ensure all students with NCEA also meet international benchmarks for functional literacy and numeracy.

Recommendation 2Expect a broader core of subjects: The government should signal higher expectations of the breadth of core subjects all students must master in school (two suggestions as to how this might be achieved are given in the final chapter).

Recommendation 3Reduce the number of standards: The government should reduce the number of standards so that within a particular subject there is minimal to no choice and each standard covers a bigger and broader set of skills and knowledge (there is far less ‘chunking down’). The optimal size and number of standards may vary for different subjects, to be determined by subject and assessment experts. However, broadly the ambition might be set to reduce the number of standards in a subject at each level from 6–8 to 1–3.

Recommendation 4Make it harder to teach to the test: The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) should rely more heavily on the reassurance provided by elements of norm-referencing (e.g. PEPs and the cut score procedure during grade score marking) to move away from such close matching of external assessment to past assessments and specifications. Instead, they should inject elements of ‘surprise’ that encourage teachers to teach the breadth of their subject’s curriculum, rather than to its assessments. Reference tests could also be deployed to help examiners identify national level changes in students’ performance over time.

Recommendation 5: Reduce reliance on internal assessment: The government should reduce NCEA’s reliance on internal assessment, so it is used only where external assessments cannot capture performance in essential areas.

Recommendation 6: Use Comparative Judgement software: NZQA should use Comparative Judgement (CJ) software to improve the reliability and efficiency of the processes available to judge external and internal assessments. CJ would also better capture genuine quality in essay-type assessments, and equip assessors to ask more open-ended and creative questions.

Recommendation 7: Commission independent analysis: The Ministry of Education should openly evaluate NCEA’s effects by commissioning and publishing independent analysis (various suggestions are given in the final chapter).

Recommendations 1-5 trade some of NCEA’s flexibility for higher equity and standards. In the short term, they may generate a drop in NCEA achievement. However, in the longer-term, these recommendations will raise expectations, equity and outcomes across the board.

Education, especially literacy and numeracy, is one of the surest pathways out of poverty.

The current assessment system is failing pupils, over-burdening teachers and is not helpful for potential employers.

Knowing what a pupil has achieved in details might be helpful for practical subjects, for example an employer at a clothing factory might want to know a prospective employee can sew button holes.

But for general subjects the details don’t matter. Employers who looked at a CV and saw a pass mark in University Entrance geography, knew the pupil could read, write and reason. By contrast NCEA results would show a lot of detail that meant nothing and could mask that the pupil was illiterate and innumerate.

NCEA isn’t achieving. It must change and change quickly.

 


Who’s paying for unprepared government?

February 22, 2018

Suspicions that Labour wasn’t prepared for government were right:

. . . But Labour — which she admitted was not prepared to be in Government . . 

The she in the above sentence is the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

This is yet another indictment on her party which spent almost nine years in-fighting, festering and frittering away the time it should have been developing policy and preparing to govern.

Because it wasn’t expecting to be in government it made some rash and uncosted promises in the hope of clawing back enough voter support to provide a foundation on which to build for the following election never thinking it would be in a position to deliver.

But a change of leader, MMP, and Winston Peters’ whim, put the party into government.

The price of this unprepared government is being paid in time wasted filibustering its own bills because it doesn’t have enough legislation ready for parliament.

It’s also being paid in promises broken which included one to patients suffering from rare diseases:

The New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders (NZORD) is stunned that the Government is not honouring its election promise to establish a separate fund which would allow rare disease patients to access vital, life-saving medicines.

Dr Collette Bromhead, NZORD Chief Executive said that the decision to take the promised fund “off the table” is devastating to the 377,000 New Zealand patients and their families who live with a rare and life-threatening disease.

“We have been told that the pledged $20m fund, to be spent over 4 years, will now not go ahead.

“And in a double blow, we have now been notified that the Government is also reviewing the contract which enables NZORD to provide the essential services and support for patients and families impacted by rare diseases.”

“The decision to cancel the fund for medicines is a complete u-turn by the Government and has been done without any consultation with the rare disease community. It leaves these vulnerable patients with no way to access the essential medicines that could extend their life and provide them with a better quality of living,” she said.

“During the 2017 election, the Labour Party announced that it would set up a separate fund to enable patients who suffer from rare diseases to access medicines. There are over 7,000 rare diseases and we are well aware of the challenges this creates for any funding model.

“The issue with the PHARMAC model is that it funds medicines based on the number of patients with a disease and while, collectively, over 8% of the population suffer from a rare disease, the number of patients for each disease is relatively small. 

“Rare diseases just don’t fit into this model and need to be evaluated differently. We need to start thinking about the value for the patient, not just the value for money. Many other countries, such as Scotland and Australia, have established programmes for life saving drugs which allow rare disease patients better access to medicines.

“It is disappointing that New Zealand is taking a backward step with regard to its rare disease patients and we are urging the Government to honour its election commitment. We are also strongly advocating to the Government that NZORD’s funding contract needs to needs to continue, so that NZORD can provide vital services to patients,” says Dr Bromhead.

At question time yesterday National’s deputy Paula Bennett did her best to get an answer about how many extra students had enrolled because of the fee-free policy for first years.

. . .So isn’t her policy just an expensive exercise—up to $2.8 billion—that, as the Secretary for Education told select committee last week, no cost-benefit analysis was done on, and, actually, there’s been no increase of students at all this year? 

That she didn’t get a straight answer leads to the very strong suspicion that the money being delivered on this election bribe has had little if any benefit.

People with rare diseases and the people who support them could think of much better use for that money and they too are paying the price for an unprepared government.

 


Principals put politics before professionalism and pupils

February 12, 2018

The Principals Federation is putting politics before pupils:

”The scrapping of legislation that enabled the establishment of charter schools in New Zealand is welcomed by principals, ” said Whetu Cormick, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF).

Charter schools are an idea imported from the United States of America and are intended to privatise public education.

“Charter schools have no place in New Zealand’s education system,” said Cormick. “The former Government’s efforts to establish them as part of their overall privatisation agenda, did not get the traction they intended, despite funding the schools at a considerably higher level than public schools,” he said.

Charter, or partnership schools which is what they’re called in New Zealand, were not set up to privatise education and the former government didn’t have a privatisation agenda.

Its aim was to cater for those who don’t fit the standard school system, and it is working for most of the pupils which is more than can be said for conventional schools.

“We welcome the new Government’s direction to support a high quality public education system and the funding freed up by abolishing charter schools will help,” said Cormick. . . 

Someone speaking for a professional body should be professional not political.

It oughtn’t matter that these schools are different, what does matter is that they are making a positive difference to their pupils.

Act leader David Seymour, who instigated the establishment of the schools organised a march against the threatened closures yesterday.

Melissa Carr’s son, 15, attends Vanguard Military in Albany. She was out waving a placard saying ‘Save our Schools’.

“He’s only been at the school three weeks and he’s already thriving and dreaming big.”

Staff believed in the children and encouraged them to believe in themselves, she said.

“These kids don’t fit into the mainstream environment so why take this opportunity away from them? It’s not costing any more for these children than at a public school, we’re not costing the government anymore and why let them miss out on opportunities that they need?” . . 

The public education system simply doesn’t suit some pupils.

Rather than seeing partnership schools as competition, principals of state schools should welcome them as complementary.

But politics is getting in the way of professionalism and the pupils who are getting the help they need will pay for that.

You can sign a petition urging the government to keep the schools open.

 


Politics and payback before pupils

February 9, 2018

Last year Kelvin Davis threatened to resign if two partnership schools in his electorate closed.

. . . The MP Kelvin Davis said Māori wanted a measure of autonomy over the education of their children.

“So if they were to close they would no longer exist, that would be a bottom line for me, so the fact is they can exist as special character schools, that’s the bottom line to me.” . . .

Last year Willie Jackson said Labour wouldn’t close his charter school.

. . . But should it win September’s election, Mr Jackson says Labour has no plans to close his school.

“Andrew Little, Chris Hipkins, they’re very supportive of our schools. They’ve been clear to me about that right from the start, otherwise I wouldn’t have joined,” he told The AM Show on Friday. . .

This year Education Minister Chris Hipkins is threatening the schools with closure:

Hipkins introduced the Education Amendment Bill today, which would formally end National Standards and charter schools.

“The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system,” Hipkins said. . . 

The bill would mean an end to future charter schools, and allow existing ones to continue while the Ministry of Education considers options – such as becoming a designated character school – on a case-by-case system.

Unlike charter schools, a character school is part of the public education system, is funded like other state schools, and must adhere to the national curriculum.

Five charter schools were scheduled to open in 2018 and will no longer open. Eleven existing charter schools have a combined roll of about 1300 students.

Hipkins wanted existing charter schools to wind up before the end of their contracts by mutual agreement.

“If, however, early termination is not agreed by both parties, I am reserving my right to issue a notice of ‘termination for convenience’, under charter schools’ existing contracts, by the middle of May 2018. This would take effect at the end of the school year.” . . 

The schools were part of an agreement between Act and National and National leader is an advocate for them.

English said closing the schools was “nasty and vindictive behaviour” and was ideological.

“And the victims of it will be young children who could have done better in a school that suited their needs.”

He said although Labour had dismissed concerns because the schools had only 1000 students in them, he said those students deserved the opportunities the schools gave them.

He said it was ‘shameful’ that had challenged Ardern to visit the schools in person to explain the decision to the children.

“I think it shows the PM is uncomfortable with the policy and certainly uncomfortable with facing the impact on the children. I’ve met these kids, I’ve met their parents.

They meet the needs of those kids. There might only be 1000 of them but they matter.”

He said a significant proportion of the students in the schools were Maori and Ardern had promised Maori up north to deliver to them. . .

 

Labour is putting politics, and paying back teacher unions before the needs of pupils.

All the schools, their staff and most importantly their pupils face uncertainty and the knowledge they could be axed at the whim of the minister.

He might give Davis and Jackson some wriggle room by renaming three schools to allow them to continue, but what about the other schools and more importantly the pupils who are succeeding after failing at conventional schools?

 

 

 


Labour throwing money at wrong end of education pathway

December 7, 2017

The government has announced some details of its fee-free tertiary education policy:

From 1 January 2018 all New Zealand students who finish school in 2017, or will finish school during 2018, qualify for a year of free provider based tertiary education or industry training.

This policy will also benefit those who aren’t school leavers. Adults who have previously studied for less than half full time year of tertiary education or industry training also will qualify for fees free. . . 

This includes overseas students and those studying courses which may or may not have personal benefit but appear to be of  little if any benefit to the country:

Labour must explain why it believes taxpayers should be paying more for people to study golf, homeopathy and skydiving, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Government was reluctant to provide any detail on its multi-billion fees-free policy and now we know why – today’s announcement has confirmed a return to the bad old Labour days of funding international hip hop study tours and family reunions.

“Under the criteria outlined today, fees-free study options will include a Diploma in Tournament Golf from IGQ Golf College, a Diploma in Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine from the New Zealand College of Chinese Medicine and a Diploma in Commercial Skydiving.

“While it makes sense that golf students ‘have an in-depth understanding of golf theory’ is it really a high priority for new spending?

“This is just bad policy. This is on top of the Government’s own estimates showing hardly any more students will be enrolling because of this policy, when Labour has justified this spending by saying it wants greater participation in tertiary education.

“Most of the 80,000 students that will benefit would have enrolled anyway and were prepared to make some contribution to the cost of their study because they saw the lifetime value in it.

“New Zealand’s tertiary education system is already heavily subsidised and the average student loan is paid off in less than seven years. This policy will just give even more money to people who will earn high incomes and should contribute something to the cost of their education.

“The policy represents a colossal missed opportunity and grossly untargeted spending. Surely it would be better to invest public money into targeting the very small group for whom cost is a barrier?

“And with all the money being sucked into supporting every full-time student in their first year, it leaves nothing to invest in the tertiary institutions themselves so that they can deliver world-class education that equips the next generation of Kiwis to be internationally competitive.

“The tertiary education sector has been left in the dark for months and it’s only now getting the details of this major policy. It gives the sector less than a month to prepare for the changes – and all for a policy that acts as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” 

About 80,000 students will qualify for the fee-free year but how much will it cost and how many extra students will enrol because of it?

The Government expects its $339 million first year fee-free tertiary education policy will see an additional 2000 people enter into study or training next year.

That’s nearly $170,000 per extra student, who may or may not go on to finish the course which may or may not be of any more than recreational value.

Meanwhile New Zealand’s literacy score has dropped for the first time in 15 years.

The government can’t be blamed for that result but it can be challenged on why it’s throwing money at first-year tertiary students when it would be far better used much earlier in the education pathway to improve the literacy of school children.

It probably wouldn’t take $170,000 per pupil and it would be addressing an urgent need which the fee-free policy is not.

Labour is throwing money spraying it round the upper end of the education pathway when there’s urgent need for more to be spent at the lower end, carefully targeted at children who are failing at primary school.


%d bloggers like this: