The DomPost editorial suggests that teachers, or more accurately the teacher unions are part of the problem not the solution regarding national standards.
The time has come for teacher unions to accept that national standards in reading, writing and mathematics are here to stay.
Parents clearly want plain-English reports about how their children are progressing in the three most important building blocks for a sound education, and the policy has been overwhelmingly endorsed at the last two elections.
It is therefore in teachers’ interests to work with the Ministry of Education to ensure a sound system of assessment and data collection. Sadly, the signs this week are that teacher unions and representatives will continue cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
Yes they will.
One of the strongest arguments teachers have advanced against the standards is that there is a lack of consistency in the way they are applied and insufficient moderation at a national level. It is therefore difficult to judge, on the raw data, how well one school, or even pupils within the same school but with different teachers, are performing compared to others.
That is a valid concern, and one that the ministry has always acknowledged would need to be addressed as national standards were bedded in. Its solution is an online tool designed to assist teachers to make more reliable and consistent assessments, thereby giving more confidence in the integrity of results. Known as the Progress and Consistency Tool, or PaCT, it is being trialled this year and will be compulsory from 2015.
Given the fears teachers hold about the inconsistency of national standards results and the lack of moderation, the public could be forgiven for thinking they would fully support the introduction of the tool. Instead, the primary teachers union NZEI, the Principals’ Federation, the Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools and the Catholic Principals’ Association have called on school boards and teachers to boycott PaCT. They say because the system requires them to judge national standards by working through tick boxes of achievements to generate a result, it will undermine their professionalism and reduce quality teaching.
The claims are ridiculous. Ensuring consistent assessment in reading, writing and mathematics across schools will have no impact on how individual teachers seek to inspire, guide and educate their charges. All it will mean is that when an 8-year-old boy at a decile 1 Auckland school and an 8-year-old girl at a decile 10 Wellington school are assessed as being above the standard for reading, there is a much greater degree of confidence that the results are accurate.
The unions are against anything and everything, yet they propose nothing as an alternative, simply repeating the tired ld mantra that we have the world’s best schools despite them failing 20% of students.
There can be no argument that parents have a right to jargon-free information about how well their children are doing in the three skills they will most need to get ahead in life. They also have a right to see how their school is doing compared to others locally and nationally. National standards are the best way to accord them those rights.
If teachers fear the information being released is inaccurate, then the answer is to work with the Government to make sure the system in place is as robust, reliable and fair as possible
They won’t, and they will devote vast amounts of time, energy and money into supporting the Labour party at the next election so they can get their way.