Information is power

February 3, 2012

Information is power and one of the criticisms of the education system is that too much information isn’t shared with parents.

Education Minister Hekia Parata is considering addressing that:

The Government appears set on publishing primary school performance data, criticised by a teacher union as “junk information”.

Education Minister Hekia Parata yesterday said she would consider setting up a website similar to the MySchool resource that operates in Australia.

The Australian example “deals with a number of the concerns that have been rumoured” about the risks of league tables, Ms Parata said.

Comparisons between schools on MySchool were only between “statistically similar schools,” giving a fairer picture of performance.

“I think that parents vest a lot of trust in the principals and teachers of the education sector – and so they should – and that trust should be returned by letting parents know accurate information about what’s happening,” she said.

Teachers – or at least their union – are opposed to the very idea of giving this information to parents but as Maxim researcher Steve Thomas points out the data has the potential to be very useful:

“. . .  Information about schools is a precious commodity and the reason it is so highly sought is simple—people want to know what goes on in classrooms and how well children are learning at school. This can help us understand which schools need the most assistance, and can help parents make informed choices about their children’s education. As long as the data is reported well and with sufficient detail,there is absolutely no need for alarm,” says Thomas.

It is better that the Ministry releases the data in a way that gives the most helpful and accurate indication about how school’s are performing, rather than leaving others to crudely interpret the data or to speculate with inadequate information,” says Thomas. . . 

The key is good data which compares like with like and gives parents all the information they need to understand how well their children are learning and the quality of the teaching they’re receiving.

At the moment parents have to rely on their own observations and the grapevine which are not necessarily reliable.


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