Open Letter from Auckland Primary and Intermediate School Principals

(Reprinted)

As educational professionals we fully endorse concerns recently expressed by many New Zealand academics relating to the proposed publication of league tables of NZ primary and intermediate school students’ performance based on this government’s national standards.
The vast majority of NZ principals have expressed serious concerns about the validity of the national standards data since the inception of the policy. The experience of other countries is that the publication of league tables is damaging and misleading, and does not lead to improved learning outcomes.
As educational professionals we condemn any published league tables and urge the NZ public to do likewise.

Signatories
Jill Corkin Snells Beach School
Kevin Bush Te Hihi School
Jeff Bruce Jean Batten School
Sue Dawson Clendon Park School
Lynda Stuart May Road School
Frances Nelson Fairburn School
Jane Cavanagh-Eyre Epsom Normal School
Rex Maddren Leabank Primary School
Liz Horgan St Joseph’s School, Otahuhu
Diana Tregoweth Owairaka District School
Brian Gower Beachlands School
Wim Boxen Ponsonby Intermediate School
Jennie Stewart Sunnybrae Normal School
Allan Watts Stella Maris School
Graeme Rix Pukekohe Hill School
Cameron Lockie Kaipara Flats School
Nicola Girling Hillsborough Primary School
Ken Pemberton Murrays Bay Primary School
Linda Mayow Glen Eden Primary School
Thomas Robertson Kelvin Road School
Graeme Lomas Cockle Bay School
Brenda Mauger St Therese School
John Faire Mt Eden Normal School
Annie Doherty Sherwood Primary School
Cherie Taylor-Patel Flanshaw Road School
Linda Harvie Farm Cove Intermediate School
Brent Woods Otahuhu Intermediate School
Neil Robinson Blockhouse Bay Primary School
Malcolm Milner Balmoral School
Fiona Cavanagh Sutton Park School
Sandra Jenkins Freemans Bay School
Roger Harnett Browns Bay School
Christine Wargent Marlborough Primary School
Liz Wood Waikowhai Intermediate School
John McAleese Howick Intermediate School
Roy Lilley Bruce McLaren Intermediate School
Kevin Hornby Puhinui School
Wayne Bainbridge Matipo Primary School
Maree Bathurst Albany Primary School
Nigel Davis Wesley Intermediate School
Wayne MacGillvray Mayfield School
Stephanie Anich Richmond Road School
Colleen Margison Panama Road School
Anne Malcolm Ponsonby Primary School
Juliet Small Sunnyhills School
Margaret Aikman Hay Park School
Bruce Laws Orewa North School
Hoana Pearson Newton Central School
Lois Kirkbride Favona School
Mavis Moodie Onehunga Primary School 50
Bill Barker Grey Lynn Primary
Brent Jenkin Wakaaranga School
Brenda White Redoubt North School
John McGowan Campbells Bay School
Tony Horan Tamaki Intermediate School
Shirley Maihi Finlayson Park School
Iain Taylor Manurewa Intermediate School
Kevin Choromanski Pomaria Primary School
Marilyn Gwilliam Papatoetoe Central School
Jill Farquharson Auckland Normal Intermediate School
Heath McNeil Ramarama School
Peter Mulcahy Sunnynook Primary School
Colin Dale Murrays Bay Intermediate School
Mary Wilson Baverstock Oaks School
Jeanette Dunning Verran Primary School
Heather Atkinson Waitakere Primary School
Martyn Weatherill Laingholm Primary School
Diane Parkinson Bucklands Beach Intermediate School
Brian Rolfe Shelly Park School
Shirley Hardcastle Devonport Primary School
Diana Peri Oranga Primary School
Rex Buckley Kingsford School
Mike O’Reilly Mt Roskill Intermediate School
Donal McLean Fruitvale School
Susannah Fowler The Gardens School
Stephen Lethbridge Taupaki School
Greg Roebuck New Lynn School
Jan Robertson Conifer Grove School
Rose Neal Oteha Valley School
Gary Lawrence Vauxhall School
Diane Lambert Orewa Primary School
Barrie Duckworth Bombay School
Ian Travers Te Huruhi School
Catherine Rivers St Mark’s School, Pakuranga
Phil Palfrey Manurewa East School
Ginty Bigwood Pigeon Mountain School
Diane Wiechern Green Bay Primary School
Pam King Kauri Park School
Warren Spanhake Whenuapai School
Leyette Callister Howick Primary School
Carolyn Marino Westmere School
Stephanie Thompson Beach Haven School
John Carrodus Edmonton Primary School
Cindy Walsh Takapuna Primary School
Linda Munkowitz Manuka Primary School
Wendy Koeford Newmarket Primary School
Sonia Johnston Rosscommon School
Melinda Bennett Ahuroa School
Gary Cain Parnell District School
David Ellery Somerville Intermediate School 100
Deidre Alderson Willowbank School
Eric Taylor Awhitu District School
Lindsay Child Bayswater School
Julien Le Sueur Pinehill School
Terry Hewetson Glen Eden Intermediate School
Margaret Palmer Waterlea School
Ron Gordon Patumahoe School
Jon Johnson Karaka School
Peter Marshall Greenhithe School
Germaine Peterson Waikowhai Primary School
Lee Hopkirk Milford School
Maria Heron Mangere Central School
Suzamme Mariassouce Paerata School
Luke Sumich Summerland Primary School
Dave Bradley Wellsford School
Delanee Dale Marshall Laing School
Cheryl Davies-Crook Halsey Drive School
Rosemary Vivien Edendale School
Graeme Newall Sandspit School
Bruce McLauchlan Swanson School
Stephen King Remuera Primary School
Owen Alexander Takapuna Normal Intermediate School
Jeff Johnstone Willow Park School
Mark Barrett Papatoetoe South School
Robyn Dunseath Glendene School
Lyn Gordon Brookby School
Laurie Thew Manurewa Central School
Susan Dunlop Yendarra School
Charmaine Munro Sunnyvale School
Gillian Bray Wainui School
Diane Manners Kohimarama School
Wendy Sandifer Torbay School
Gina Bernade Sancta Maria Catholic Primary School
Gavin Beere Hillpark School
Trish Plowright Elm Park School
Darrel Goosen Matakana School
Linda Barton-Redgrave Long Bay School
Irene Ogden Henderson North School
Lesley Elia Glenbrae School
Paul Engles St Mary’s School, Northcote
Judd McLauchlan Rowandale School
Robyn Curry Te Papapa School
Jo Augustine Kaurilands School
Michelle McCarty Alfriston School
Jane Danielson Hingaia Peninsula School
Carmel Bullot St Patrick’s School, Remuera
Paul Douglas Kowhai Intermediate School
Philomena O’Connell-Cooper St Joseph’s Catholic School, Takapuna
Chris Magner Ellerslie School
Enid Watson Forrest Hill School 150
Glen Vinton Stanley Bay School
Viv Collins Silverdale School
Craig McCarthny St Heliers School
Te Rangi Allen Nga Kakano Christian Reo e Rua Kura
Jocelyn Uasike St Joseph’s Catholics School, Pukekohe
Ross McGowan Aka Aka School
Sarah Martin Stonefields School
Raewyn Matthys-Morris Glenfield Intermediate School
Robert Minihan Kadimah School
Barbara Duckworth Papakura Central School
Linda Low Birkdale North School
Jason Swann Otahuhu Primary School
Kathryn Hira St Joseph’s School, Orakei
Cathy Chalmers Greenmeadows Intermediate School
Mike Gardner West Harbour School
Debbie Marshall Dairy Flat School
Blair Johnston Pokeno School
Darren Smith St Leonard’s School
Pat Chamley Flat Bush School
Judy Hanna Mangere Bridge School
Dave Latimer Rangeview Intermediate School
Graeme Gilbert Papatoetoe East School
Colin Andrews Blockhouse Bay Intermediate School
Clive Morris Drury School
Fintan Kelly Pakuranga Heights School
Diane Raynes Bayview School
Vaughan van Rensberg Chapel Downs School
Peter Ayson Meadowbank School
Andy Thompson St Joseph’s Catholic School, Onehunga
Jan Tasker Sunnyvale School
Michael Malins Konini School
Anne-Marie Biggs Glendowie Primary School
Paul Coackley St Pius X Catholic School
Julie Schumacher Clevedon School
Bruce Dale Henderson Intermediate School
Stuart Myers Pakuranga Intermediate School
Judy Parr Point View School
Linley Bruce Royal Oak Primary School
Anthony Noble-Campbell Mangere East Primary School
Maurice Young Marina View School
Brenda McPherson Windy Ridge School
Kent Wilson Westminster Christian School
Evan Robson Orere Point School
Bruce Warren Mairangi Bay School
Debbie Waikato Lincoln Heights School
Nigel Bioletti Birkenhead Primary School
Ken McKay Star of the Sea School
David Tennent St Mary’s Catholic School, Papakura
Richard Coote Birkdale Intermediate School
Jeanette Craig Upper Harbour Primary School 200
Rae Parkin Wesley Primary School
Kathy Irvine Red Hill Primary School
Mary Kedzlie St Leo’s Catholic School
Brigid Peterson Good Shepherd School
Bruce Cunningham Belmont Primary School
Bernard Fitzgibbon St John’s School, Mairangi Bay
Helen Varney Target Road School
Janet Pinchen Glamorgan School
Jane Hahn Christ the King Catholic School
Kathy Dooley Mt Richmond Special School
Cris Hull View Road School
Wiki Whittaker St John the Evangelist School
Pauline Cornwell Avondale Intermediate School
Trevor Canute Papatoetoe West School
Gary Passfield Waimauku School
Bruce Young Holy Cross School, Papatoetoe 216
Sandra Aitken Pt Chevalier School
Grant Hope-Ede Peninsular Primary School
Lesley Pether Maraetai Beach School
Simon Akroyd Glenbrook School
Jane Wallis Te Matauranga (co-principal)
Debbie Wooliams Te Matauranga (co-principal)
Peter Kaiser Tirimoana Primary School
Pat Conrad Mansell Senior School
Anne Milne Kia Aroha College
Alan Lyth Bairds Mainfreight Primary School
Kris Hughes Riverhead School
Sheryl Fletcher Bayfield School
Bruce Trezise Botany Downs School
John Nicholls Robertson Road School
Anne Saunokonoko Marist Primary School, Mt Albert
Linda Kelly Takanini School
Heather Frost Hunua School
Keith Gayford Viscount School
Lynne Keohane Anchorage Park School
Sue Mulcahy Chelsea Primary School
Vicki Joplin Waiuku Primary School
David Wallace Manurewa West School
Maxine Tau South Auckland Seventh-Day Adventist School
Justine Somerville Belmont Intermediate School
Robyn Pivac Marist Catholic School, Herne Bay
Tony Walsh Pasadena Intermediate School
Louise Doyle Oaklynn Special School
Vanessa Sofele Paparimu School
Jenny Bernard Principal, St Joseph’s Catholic School, Grey Lynn
Deborah Heaseman Northcote Primary School
Craig Holt Northcote Intermediate School
Murray Wratt Opaheke School
Tony Kolose Manurewa South School
Murray Burton Elim Christian College
Kathy Moy-Low Holy Cross School, Henderson
Clarinda Franklin Hauraki School
Karen McMurray Randwick Park School
Cherie Galloway Balmoral SDA School
Judy Brown Mellons Bay School
Adrienne Mawer Birkdale Primary School
Marianne Booth St Francis School, Pt Chevalier
Jennice Murray Don Buck Primary School
Annette Donnelly Mt Carmel School
Maree Stavert Henderson Valley School
Other signatories of support
Alister McCosh Picton School, Picton
Barrie Wickens Kaka Street Special School, Tauranga
Alan Jermaine Education Consultant, Auckland
Neil Fraser Ngatea Primary School, Ngatea
Gary Punler West End School, Palmerston North
Tony Hamilton Retired principal, Auckland
Tony Westrupp Kaukapakapa School, Helensville area
Barbara Bronlund Kaiwaka School, Wellsford area
Darren Kerr Whareama School, Masterton area
Kay Hawk Education consultant, Education Group Ltd, Auckland
Barry Hambleton Retired principal, Auckland
Frank Dodd Retired principal, Auckland
Nola Hambleton Retired principal, Auckland
Leanne Otene Manaia View School, Whagarei area

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School Trustees on National Standards 2 Years On.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011, 12:41 pm
Press Release: Wellington Wairarapa School Trustees Association

National Party Education Policy and the Accountability Question:
The School Trustees’ Perspective

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
Albert Einstein

The National Party’s education policy for the 2011 general election sets down another marker in the on-going battle between those who focus on data and what is “counted” versus those who focus more on what really “counts” in delivering quality modern education.

The difference is becoming clearer as the roll-out of National’s highly controversial National Standards policy passes the second anniversary this month of the publication of the open letter to the Minister of Education by four leading academics. The academics stated that the new system was so seriously flawed that its implementation would not be successful, it would not achieve intended goals and it could lead to “dangerous side effects”.

The dangerous side effects are best described in the concluding paragraph of the paper written by Professor John Hattie, an adviser to John Key in the early days of the policy’s development:

“National standards offers the most wonderful opportunities for refreshing and reinvigorating an already top of the world system, but it could be the most disastrous policy formulated if it turns our attention to narrowing, testing, league tables and diverting attention to between-school rather than within-school differences.”

School trustees, the elected representatives of parents, have voiced concerns for the past two years about the National Standards system. The School Sample Monitoring & Evaluation Project, the official Ministry of Education commissioned report that monitors the implementation of National Standards, asked school trustees about their level of concern over the unintended consequences of National Standards.

The issues of most concern to trustees are league tables and the demotivation of students who are consistently below the standards, with 71% of school trustees being moderately to very concerned about league tables.

Narrowing the curriculum and the possibility of national testing are the other key concerns shared by trustees and educators alike.

An attempt to determine parent views on the system could not proceed, as the response rate to the parent survey was just over 1%, illustrating how little interest many parents now have in the new system.

The monitoring report was published on the Ministry’s Education Counts website back in August but the Minister of Education has not released a press release discussing its contents.

The New Zealand media has generally played a poor role in covering the National Standards debate. All too often they have mistakenly asserted that teachers are opposing National Standards merely because they are afraid of accountability. In the view of many school trustees, this is incorrect.

The National Party policy statement says that schools and education agencies should be accountable to parents and taxpayers for student achievement. WWSTA agrees. All participants in the state and state-integrated schools sector play an important part in delivering both the desired social policy objectives of education and doing so at a cost that represents “value for money’ for the taxpayer.

But the crunch question is how we all work to achieve the desirable objective of further enhancing an already world class system while avoiding the “dangerous side effects” that Professor Hattie warns us about.

Parents do want to know how their children are progressing and achieving at school and how they can support their learning. Effective assessment plays a vital role in both informing teaching and learning in the classroom and in providing valuable information back to parents.

But the real issue is not whether children should be assessed (they should), or whether schools should be accountable (they should) but how and in relation to what?

The fascination with performance data and the tendency to want to copy education policy from the USA and England has been a feature of the debate around standards-based education reform for some time. The late Roger Kerr wrote as such, as far back as February 1998, in the National Business Review:

“The UK is light years ahead of New Zealand on this…How refreshing and how sensible. What a contrast to New Zealand where education officials try to play down the importance of such performance data. Parents deserve such information so they can choose schools that are best for their children. Not only that. Knowing that their performance will be measured and published creates good incentives for schools.”

These sentiments have been repeated in the aftermath of the release of National’s education policy but there has been no reference to the poor level of student achievement performance in countries such as England and the USA that use high stakes assessment and reporting.

In contrast, why has Finland, which bans league tables under legislation, consistently scored so highly? And, why has the New Zealand media not learnt from their English counterparts that school league tables do not lead to genuine improvements in the quality of education?

The bigger issue overshadowing the sideshow of National Standards for many parents is that, while literacy and numeracy are important skills, they are not all that matters in a good primary education.

So, WWSTA would argue that the accountability issue must first address the more important question: what is it that schools must deliver to their customers – the parents – as their main purpose for existing? In essence, it is time to reconsider the most basic question: What is the purpose of education?

This much more important question, of what we expect from our schools and teachers, has descended into a game of political football with our children’s futures at stake. Can we really determine the effectiveness of the education system unless we have discussed and agreed on the real purpose of education?

This government’s failure to develop sound policy is the cause of the problems behind the poor implementation of National Standards. We should take time out and refocus our efforts on developing meaningful solutions to our challenges in our circumstances.

It’s time for a rethink about the role of education and what New Zealanders want our public education system to deliver. Only then can we hold our educators truly accountable.

PROTECT

There is an excellent website called “PROTECT” that parents, teachers, commentators and politicians should regularly visit. It would also provide food for thought for the legion of ‘spin doctors’ that political parties employ to try and influence public opinion.

The name of the site stands for-
Parents’ Rights On Their Educational Choices TodayThis acronym does credit to the content presented on the site. There is clearly a significant groundswell in the community of concerned and considerate people who feel that things are being done for political points-scoring rather than because they are motivated by sound needs-based research and feel a need to get their own messages of opposition out.

Subscribe and support them by letting others know about “Protect”.

NATIONAL STANDARDS- a cautionary.

The basic argument that I (and many others) have always had with regard to the introduction of National Standards into New Zealand schools was that the system was being urgently imposed on schools without any trials as to the effectiveness of the proposed methodologies and not that it was necessarily a ‘bad’ system.

I came across an article by an American educationalist in the Wall Street Journal- I always read it, cover to cover [yeah, right!]. She is Diane Ravitch who has closely studied the system of National Standards introduced in The States under the presidency of George H W Bush in the early years of this decade. Her article is printed here, and sounds a loud cautionary warning to we in New Zealand.

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Being Economical With The Truth?

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/4065926/Doubt-over-Tolleys-claim-on-standards
How does the saying go… “being economical with the truth”?

The debate over how the National Standards are being introduced involves a wide range of groups with vested interests- individual parents, Boards of Trustees, their national organisation, the School Trustees Association, individual school principals, their local principals’ associations, their national organisation, the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, teachers, their union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, the Opposition, and, of course, The Government and the Minister of Education, Anne Tolley.

Parents want the best educational outcomes for their children, of this there can be no argument. They want the best information they can get on their children’s progress in school. They want schools to be honest in their reporting of their child’s progress and they want such reporting to be in language that they can understand.

Boards of Trustees want to represent the interests of those who elected them, parents and, by default the children who attend their school. They strive to make the best decisions for their school on a huge range of matters, and to do this they take advice from a range of sources- their parents, their principal, other Boards perhaps, STA (the School Trustees Association), ERO, the Ministry, and so on. [Of course they will at times receive direction of what they must do (as in this case) and when THIS happens they will inevitably undertake discussion and debate as a Board as to whether the required actions are in the best interests of their children. After all Boards of Trustees were established to allow for ‘self management’.]

Principals will always lead their school with a caring but professional desire to manage a process that is innovative, visionary, and delivers the best education for their students. They will discuss current affairs with their colleagues and their school management and staff, and based on best advice and personal professional knowledge will provide advice to their Boards.

All who are involved with schools policies and practices do what they do based on the best advice they can get, and expect that advice to be honest and based on good research and current educational experience.

In this instance we have a Minister of Education making grand claims of universal acclaim for the National Standards that she has directed schools to implement despite opposition from various sectors. Perhaps this latest instance (linked story) is the most worrying- moreso than her manner with professional groups- wagging fingers at Principals’ Federation conference attendees, for example. She is clearly making a claim that is not true if the STA executive are to be believed (and is there any reason not to believe them?)  This should be of real concern that a Minister of the Crown can have an attitude that is tantamount to “if I say it is so, then it is so”!

National Testing.

$26m to convince New Zealand that National Testing is a good idea? Despite authoritative comments from educational experts in New Zealand and overseas arguing otherwise, and despite evidence that it hasn’t been of value in other countries? Give the $26m to schools to help them ease the load of doing the great job of educating kids they are (almost) all doing already.

I suspect there are a lot of people of like mind to David Armstrong. Visit his blog here- worth the read.http://imaybewrongbutnz.com/2010/01/29/what%E2%80%99s-really-going-on-in-the-national-education-standards-%E2%80%9Cdebate%E2%80%9D/#comment-117 He he- doncha love his blog name- “imaybewrongbut”.