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Any excuse to scupper accountability of educators?

By johnboy 28 May 2009 34

The Greens’ Meredith Hunter is leaping upon doubts raised by a single education expert Professor Brian Caldwell over publishing of school performance data.

    “We expect the Education Minister to address concerns about the potential negative effects of the introduction of new testing and reporting systems that will make compiling league tables possible – a policy that the Minister has already signed the ACT up to.” Ms Hunter said today.

    “It’s important for Minister Barr to explain why he backs these radical changes to our education system, and how he will make sure that we won’t get league tables and an unfair attack on individual schools and teachers as a result.”

Because crap teachers wasting precious education opportunities available to young minds should always be protected?

UPDATED: Andrew Barr appears to have given up on the Chief Minister’s media office and has put out his own media release trying to reframe the issue:

    The debate about so-called league tables – from both sides, for and against – is a distraction.

    Nothing in these reforms will help those who want simplistic league tables which rank schools according to raw test scores. Additionally anyone who wants to can already do so based on results currently published in ACT school annual reports and available under ACT Freedom of Information laws.


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34 Responses to
Any excuse to scupper accountability of educators?
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Tori 10:20 pm 05 Jul 09

League tables using misleading data will be accurate eventually. They will create what they seek to describe when the public select or deselect based on them. How is it that we are going to measure intangibles like passion, compassion, happiness or sparking a lifelong learning journey? I don’t think the data will include longitudinal studies.

2604 10:46 pm 29 May 09

RE: accountability of educators, school inspectors (or what the yanks call “superintendents”) should be re-introduced.

My granddad used to be one. They were the level above school principals and used to visit schools on a rotational basis, reviewing curricula and sitting in on classes and generally keeping an eye on things.

They were particularly focused on what the principal was doing and IMO this is what is missing nowadays. There are some great principals out there, but when a school has real problems with morale and and discipline (among both teachers and students!), too often the rot starts at the top with a weak or disinterested principal. Without any external oversight, things can go on getting worse for a long time.

Unfortunately, the education unions got rid of school inspectors in the 1970s, using the pretext that teachers were professionals the same as doctors and lawyers and therefore didn’t require any oversight….

Performance metrics are a great idea. The debate shouldn’t be around whether or not they are fair, but rather how to use them in a genuinely effective manner. They should also contain some subjective components.

Jim Jones 10:49 am 29 May 09

Clown Killer said :

The core if this debate is about whether or not publically funded organisations have a right to keep that information secret.

No, it’s not.

The core of the debate is the desire to find effective ways of improving the education system, rather than making a simplistic grab for league style tables that help no-one and end up further stigmatising and disadvantaging schools in lower socio-economic areas.

Clown Killer 10:11 am 29 May 09

Let’s start by you telling us what you would look for in this statistical data, to show you which school is “the best”. for your child.

It’s actually irrelevant what conclusion anyone might come to. The core if this debate is about whether or not publically funded organisations have a right to keep that information secret.

peterh 10:11 am 29 May 09

sexynotsmart said :

I optimise performance of some of our country’s most complicated networks, but will somehow be confused by statistical data about nodes in my kid’s education system?

$20 says my analysis skills (nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills) are better than some baby-boomer blowhard with a combover.

Stop patronising us, academia. The information wants to be free.

I work in the IT industry with orders for millions of dollars on a regular basis, I want something quite simple for my children’s performance at school, and apparently, it is still run.

Parent / Teacher night has always been an effective way to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a particular child, allowing the parents to see what needs to be improved for their child’s opportunity to excel.

If the data that allows a parent to identify potential failings by the particular school or individual teachers was sent out in a format that people who don’t look after complicated networks or sell millions of dollars of IT products on a regular basis could understand, decisions that parents feel need to be made could be. And without changing schools, but, rather, discussing with the principal about the ability to shift their child to another class.

The principals need to be armed with the same data.

If a teacher is failing in the instruction and achievement levels, shouldn’t the first course of action be to find out why?

Wouldn’t it be better to re-assign a teacher to another area of the school system than to sack them and employ a new, younger teacher who has no prior experience and is in fact learning on the job, at the expense of the children’s education?

daddy 8:31 am 29 May 09

Of course there should be some type of standardised testing.

Of course there should be a performance based rewards system in place for teachers.

I have a degree in Education and taught for 14 yrs. I also have 4 children spread across the education system (public and private) so have a huge interest in this.

The very best 10 % of teachers are teaching because that’s what they were born to do. You all know at least one of them. The next 25% are no longer teaching. Jim Jones #7 is correct with his analysis of the lack of financial reward and the loss of respect for the profession. I had reached a career point where it was time to move schools as I was not going to be able to make the next step up at my current school. An opportunity to move into a different field presented itself and purely for financial reasons I moved out. Just to blow my own trumpet, I was co-ordinator level in a high school for student management, I taught classes of special students, the board of studies used to regularly contact the school and offer to re-mark HSC exams as my students on average performed above the estimates we provided. I get invited to ex-students wedding 10 yrs later. I was one of the good ones.

Now I get to place buttons on screens and make stuff happen when people press them. Important work no doubt and I go home each day satisfied with my work but doesn’t have the same impact on the future of our nation. I do however get paid double the money…

The people involved certainly should be required to show how they are managing the system effectively. That’s everyone from the top down. They should be required to show how they have supported the development of the child. They should also be given the support of society and the support of the families for whom they do this important work. The students involved should also be expected, by the school, by their parents and by society to take full advantage of what they are being offered.

Wellington Sludge 7:55 am 29 May 09

sexynotsmart said :

I optimise performance of some of our country’s most complicated networks, but will somehow be confused by statistical data about nodes in my kid’s education system?

$20 says my analysis skills (nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills) are better than some baby-boomer blowhard with a combover.

Stop patronising us, academia. The information wants to be free.

Not that I’m that baby-boomer (or any baby-boomer for that matter), but I’m up for claiming that $20. Let’s start by you telling us what you would look for in this statistical data, to show you which school is “the best”. for your child.

sexynotsmart 11:30 pm 28 May 09

I optimise performance of some of our country’s most complicated networks, but will somehow be confused by statistical data about nodes in my kid’s education system?

$20 says my analysis skills (nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills) are better than some baby-boomer blowhard with a combover.

Stop patronising us, academia. The information wants to be free.

GregW 10:56 pm 28 May 09

grunge_hippy said :

why is it only nurses and teachers that are made to look bad when we demand pay equal to our skills and education?

If your profession truly demanded pay equal to your skills / education, the public would be appreciative for the savings in expenditure it would create. I suspect that while there is the occasional qualified teacher, the high rates of unionism and the willingness to place your own interests above those to which you have a duty of care justifies most peoples generalisations of the industry.

Bring on performance based pay, education vouchers and nationalised testing of both school and teacher performance.

Granny 9:52 pm 28 May 09

grunge_hippy said :

why is it only nurses and teachers that are made to look bad when we demand pay equal to our skills and education?

Because they are seen as female-dominated occupations and therefore of less value.

nyssa76 9:47 pm 28 May 09

grunge hippie, the ACT AEU is and always will be a TOOTHLESS TIGER. They are the reason the EBAs are shite. In 1999 the decision to shaft younger teachers with mobility was agreed to in exchange for older teachers getting more money. Last EBA evened the field with ALL staff having to move and, suprise surprise, the older teachers don’t like it and want the mobility options changed.

I’d settle for better resources.

MWF, they don’t assist when there are severe issues within a school. They ‘listen’ and then walk away until the next teacher complains….sometimes up to 20 staff and still nothing.

deezagood, it’s like that in China too – a nice refreshing change where parents and students respected their teachers and international ones too 🙂

grunge_hippy 9:28 pm 28 May 09

i am not a poster girl for the AEU… I dont like strike action either. i often refuse to strike, as I dont feel it helps. however, they are attempting to find ways to weed out underperfoming teachers with their new EBA agreement (which is up this year). it will be the government that shoots it down, making us look bad yet again as money hungry teachers who dont care about the kids.

why is it only nurses and teachers that are made to look bad when we demand pay equal to our skills and education?

deezagood 8:57 pm 28 May 09

Good on you nyssa, although I really do think teachers are severely underpaid and unappreciated. I worked in Japan for a year and couldn’t believe how respected teachers are over there. At the end of the year, the parents put on a big celebration thank you banquet for the teaching staff (it was a lot like a wedding actually), the teachers were very well paid (and therefore the profession attracted a lot more primary breadwinners; ie.men), they were respectfully addressed by students/parents and were generally held in very high esteem. It depresses me to compare this to our country.

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