What drives the data?

Yesterday afternoon I returned home from a day at school report writing to read the latest Daily Blog instalment from by best twitter friend who I’ve never met (BTFWINM) Dianne Khan. Her post makes many salient points about National’s Standards. I will let you read those for yourselves, but one rhetorical question she posed stuck in my mind…

Those in favour of National Standards argue that “Providing high quality data that helps us all to understand and support a student’s learning is one of the ways the Government is working to raise student achievement and ensure this happens.”
If that’s so true, why do charter schools and private schools not have to use National Standards? (my bold).

This is a fantastic question. Why are these other schools not part of the data driven regime?

There are probably a number of things that need to be mentioned…

    1. Hekia Parata has said this herself – National’s Standards are about the collection of data. She says you cannot improve educational achievement without first taking some kind of measurement. Once you have taken two measurements, then you can do something about it.
    2. It’s ok to measure the hell out of primary schools. The vast majority of primary school teachers will toe the line, fill out the forms and work within the system. I’m not sure you would get the same welcoming attitude if National’s Standards were imposed on secondary schools with the same fervour (probably not a relevant point, but it just came to me so it’s going in!).
    3. Measurements and data (the model of neoliberal justification – I measure, I cut if you don’t perform) have been used for many years now. They live by their data. That also means that they die by their data. If the were to even for a second consider measuring the achievement of charter school students, they would instantly open themselves up to the very scrutiny the were wanting to avoid for their fabled chartnership school policy. One you measure something, the next time you measure it, if it goes up you’re a total success. If it goes down then… well, you’re tomorrow’s fish & chip wrapper.

It’s quite clear that National’s Standards have never been about “…providing high quality data that helps us all to understand and support a student’s learning is one of the ways the Government is working to raise student achievement and ensure this happens.”

No. National’s Standards are about creating a data set that can then be used to punish teachers, principals, boards of trustees and school communities considered to be “failures” by the data.

“No,” said Anne Tolley, “we won’t be releasing the data to the media so they can create league tables. That would be counter-productive” (or something).

Here is a media-owned website constructed using the very same high quality data National said they were never going to release to the media.

The last thing the government want occurring with their flagship education policy is for the media to be sniffing around in charter school achievement data and publishing those results. That is why these schools were removed from any public scrutiny through the Official Information Act. That is why these schools run under a veil of immense secrecy.

This means the government has total control over what the media see and publish. Press releases written by unseen, unnamed PR boffins given to media to publish. Media publishes said press releases without any in-depth analysis. Charter schools are going along nicely thanks. Look at all the new uniforms, happy children and whizzy new computers and stuff. Those kids are doing well aren’t they?

No. National absolutely does not want the data to help prove their policies are leading to a fall in student achievement.

That’s not what they were sold as.

Some Sunday thinks for you. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Mr B.


National Standards – Resistance is not futile: The Daily Blog – June 14, 2014

School Report website: Stuff.co.nz


One response

  1. Perhaps this explains why a certain charter school principal writes to me regularly to moan about my posts and viewpoints, but never ever comments on them in public. The PR machine at Ministry would never approve! ~ Dianne


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