I’ve just been out for a bike ride.

For those of you who knew me during my “lazy” years, that might come as a surprise.

While I’m out I like to use one of those nifty app things that tells you how many calories you’ve used. During an uphill mission towards the end of my ride tonight the beautiful American app voice told me I had burnt 30 calories over the last kilometre. The next kilometre, the majority of which was downhill and involved little, if any, pedaling, burnt nearly 70 calories.

At the top of my uphill leg, my brow was pouring with sweat and my heart-felt like a 80s warhead primed to explode at a moment’s notice. I felt like I had burnt fifty eleven calories. I did not believe the voice. My experience had told me I’d burnt many, many more calories on that leg.

At the bottom of the downhill leg, brimming with the new-found confidence several well-timed lungfuls of oxygen can give you I was quite happy to believe the voice when she said I’d burnt 130 calories. I was happy. My experience on the downhill had left me feeling very positive indeed. Why would the machine lie to me?

It’s a bit like that with Hekia Parata. All my experience with her outrageous verbosity since taking over from Anne “Mini-Crusher” Tolley has left be with a bad taste. Her ability to speak for several minutes in parliament and not answer the question put to her has given me absolutely no confidence to believe anything she says. Ever.

When she says she is spending $2.7 million to lift the achievement of at-risk kids, do I believe her when she says it will help get these students into work? No. Yes her ministry will spend the money but it won’t work.

$2.7 million is not going to do anything for those most at-risk students. I suspect these “at-risk” students are not your usual rural student types who are too far away from a school to attend regular lessons. I suspect these “at-risk” students are not those students who are being home-schooled by their parents.

No, I suspect some of the “at-risk” students the minister is referring to will be taking correspondence lessons because they cannot be educated in the traditional classroom setting because of a variety of – for want of a better phrase – behavioural issues.

If you want to help those kids then get cracking with a few billions to deal with the socio-economic issues that lead to the majority of these students becoming “at-risk” in the first place.

I’ll tell you this for free. $2.7 million is not going to do anything for even one of these “at-risk” kids.

When Parata says she and her ministry didn’t massage NCEA figures, do I believe her? Absolutely not. NCEA is exactly the age the OECD test kids on their stupid PISA assessment. The exact same PISA assessment the current government has overseen a “slight fall” in the performance of kiwi students.

So, like many utterances out of this National government, when Parata says she and her ministry are not massaging NCEA figures that is exactly what they are doing.

Make no mistake. When you are a government that has staked its reputation on boosting student achievement data, you are going to do your darndest to boost the numbers if they don’t come in the way you expect.

Think back to the ridiculous scaling that went on back in the 80s when we all got jostled and shoved into the School Certificate bell curve of nonsense. I got 90% for something (possibly Horticulture. Definitely not English) which ended up being 75% thanks to scaling.

That is what the government will be/is doing to National Standards and NCEA data is changing it so it looks better AND keeping that secret from the rest of us.

Official Information Act request anyone?

Tomorrow night I will enjoy my electronic American bike ride app voice safe in the knowledge that she is far more trustworthy than our current Education Minister and the government she belongs to will ever hope to be.

Mr B.


$2.7 million to lift achievement of at-risk students – Parata: NBR – 9 March, 2014

Education Minister denies ‘massaging’ of NCEA results: NZ Herald – 9 March, 2014


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