Thursday, February 11, 2010

National Standards debate

The Government with its populist style politics has developed a series of mantra's designed to pierce the hearts of the voters.

"150 000 students are failing and cannot do basic maths or reading when they leave school"

Well no-one wants their kids failing - but there is no detail in this slogan. Who are these kids and what have they got to say about the issue. Have a look at some of my earlier posts on the international issue of disengagement! Engage them or Enrage them or worse still lose them to a life with limited choices. Testing these students wherever they are is not going to engage them. It is creative innovative schools who are embracing the concept of learning for the 21century embedded in the newly mandated curriculum that will address this issue.

The Government seems to ignore the correlation between this 20% and the 20% that live in poverty, with overcrowded housing, poor diet and lack of resourcing. I am quite sickened by the attitude of some columnists who blame these families for their lot and who make the assumption that these parents don't care for education or their kids. The cost of poverty to our nation is huge and the loss of creative innovative potential in the students who are disengaged is also staggering. We have a national responsibility to address poverty - but testing wont do this.

And the latest:

"National testing will help us to identify poor performing teachers and poor performing schools"

Maybe each of the voters had a poor teacher who that would like to eradicate from their school memory or a frustrating time with a teacher of their own child. No parent wants a poor performing teacher in front of a class.

But what is more testing going to do? Where such an issue exists then that school board needs support to ensure they engage in the fair process of competency / performance management as outlined in the Employment Relations Act.

This government with its populist style of politics is promoting that national standards will address the above issues. They continue to receive strong advice against introducing the standards without even a trial and pleas to engage in dialogue with the profession from educational academics, nzei - (the primary teacher union), NZPF - (NZ Principals Federation), and principal associations including APPA (Auckland Primary Principals Assoc).

None of us can see the point. Blaming and shaming has not worked in other countries. In fact in places like UK - teacher moral is at an all time low, the curriculum is narrowed and reduced to teaching to tests.

I think we need to look at the research around the issue of disengagement and support schools to develop teaching programmes that will develop teaching programmes for 21st century learners.

On Friday 19th we have the NZEI bus tour on the Freeman's Bay School Field at 2.30pm. If you want to join the debate come on down, or check their itinerary of the bus tour and go to one in your area.

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