How to measure stuff

Good morning everybody – Hekia speaking.

You may not have heard from me for a while. I can tell you I’ve been very extremely busy. Mostly I’ve been consulting with relevant stakeholders on a range of things. That’s probably why I’ve been out of the media; there’s only seven stakeholders in the country that I’m aware of but they’re all very important and donate a lot of money are full of so many ideas, so it’s important for the National Party education of New Zealand children that I spend as much time with them as possible.

What I did want to talk about today is the process of measuring, in particular, how to measure stuff.

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh god no. Please don’t talk about measuring stuff. This is the single most boring thing you can talk about other than fiscal responsibility, climate change or basic human rights.”

However, measuring stuff is the only way to get better at things. If we measure something, we can find out where things need to be fixed. If we measure something, we can find out where we can stop spending money altogether. It’s really that simple.

Let me give you an example.

Recently I was attending a meeting of stakeholders. Some of these millionaires raised some interesting points. The over-arching consensus from all of those present was that despite the fact that none of them had worked in education or been inside a school since they had left formal education in the mid- to late-1970s, all were in agreement that things were much better back then and all children knew how to read, write and do their times-tables. Many said workers in their large corporations spent hours reciting the times-tables; it’s an extremely common part of many, many modern-day jobs. There was a concern that current school leavers would not be able to work out 6 x 7 and would think that, despite the advent of calculators and Google, there was no way on earth they would ever be able to work out this most complex of workplace problems.

It was then that I, Minister of Education, suggested a solution. A solution that already exists.

Why don’t we hold weekly times-tables tests across all New Zealand schools. Even though many such tests are available on-line for free, we can hire a multi-national test writer like Pearson to make the tests really hard so they are actually tests of unknown knowledge rather than tests of things children know. That way we can work out which children in New Zealand don’t know problems like 6 x 7 and then we can syphon money from Reading Recovery, ESOL, RTLBs and other special needs programmes to make sure that Novopay still sort of works.

We will be able to, in consultation with the journalistic community, release the results of our testing and, over time, see all the vast improvements that will be made as we reduce the overall education budget to spend it on failed pay systems and struggling chartnership schools.

I think you’ll all agree with me if we are sure every child knows that 6 x 7 is 48, New Zealand will be far more competitive on the international stage.

Right. Off to speak with more stakeholders at a $70,000 a head continental breakfast.

Hek x


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