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Enrollment fraud, is it more chicken or the egg?

By Joanne1987 11 September 2014 30

Last week I saw an article in the CT about parents lying about their place of residence to get their kids into elite target public schools in the ACT. It generated a lot of discussion but got me thinking about the flip-side to this debate, principals who pick and choose kids from out of area. What influences their decision making, merit of need? For instance a family friend of ours told us a few years back their child got into an out-of-area and at-capacity elite target primary school because she told the principal her daughter had a reading several age years above the national average. Conversely I was also told by a teacher friend, and I concede it is only a rumour, she was in a staff meeting where the Principal of a substantially under capacity high school told his staff he was resisting accepting out of area kids with disabilities because he didn’t want his school to be seen as “that type of school”.

We place a lot of trust in school principals but should they be in charge of picking and choosing which students they top their schools up with, particularly in an age where NAPLAN and MySchool are being used as key markers of a school and it’s principal’s performance?


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30 Responses to
Enrollment fraud, is it more chicken or the egg?
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MaidMarion 4:10 pm 14 Sep 14

Not all teachers are saints. Remember that teacher you had when you were a kid, they were mean, belittling, sarcastic and so obviously on a power trip? Well that’s the kind of teacher that gets promoted. I don’t know why the OP expected principals to have the integrity and to put the kid’s needs first. The higher the monkey climbs the more it shows its butt. By and large, it’s their butt, ego superannuation and self-imagined legacy that come first. Just like they wouldn’t take a special needs kid over a brainiac, you can be sure that most principals of nice middle class school aren’t about to go and make their difference in struggle town. Principals will just keep playing the system, most of them never really left school, so they know it well. Ultimately NAPLAN isn’t about doing something useful, it’s about looking like you’re doing something useful.

HenryBG 3:51 pm 14 Sep 14

justin heywood said :

Do you really think teachers put up with the cr#p that they do because they can’t get a better job?

Um…is this a trick question?

justin heywood said :

I know quite a few teachers who got into teaching for the love of teaching, many have good degrees and most could have had much higher paying, less and stressful jobs.

As do I.
I also know people who got into teaching because they are a bit useless and the idea of working short hours and having about 20 weeks off in the year appealed to them.
I also have my recollection of my time at school, where the inspiring teachers were very, very far from being the norm.
(In fact, one of the most inspiring of my teachers turned out to be a bit of pervert)

In any case, this isn’t relevant. If you are an inspiring teacher, you’re not going to object to your students being examined. It’s a useful exercise in more ways than one.
If you fear your performance being measured, then you *will* object to testing.
This is why schools that flounder academically as a direct result of the lack of skills of its teachers – prime example being the Orana School – have such a strong culture of NAPLAN-hating. The public school system, which employs ninnies on a lesser scale than Orana does, is less reactive, but still noticeably testing-averse.

justin heywood 12:44 pm 14 Sep 14

HenryBG said :

On the whole, the people who get into teaching aren’t doing it because they have the best degrees from the best Universities, eh?
How many of your child’s teachers studied at Oxford, or have a Rhodes scholarship?

Do you really think teachers put up with the cr#p that they do because they can’t get a better job? I know quite a few teachers who got into teaching for the love of teaching, many have good degrees and most could have had much higher paying, less and stressful jobs.

Don’t blame the failures on individual teachers – there are plenty of great teachers out there. I think most just want the opportunity to teach and not to deal with bureaucratic interference and chaotic classrooms.

HenryBG 12:13 pm 14 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

I should also add that the teachers that I have spoken to about NAPLAN testing do not like it either.

Of course they don’t like it.

The whole purpose of testing is to identify academic weakness.

On the whole, the people who get into teaching aren’t doing it because they have the best degrees from the best Universities, eh?
How many of your child’s teachers studied at Oxford, or have a Rhodes scholarship?

Nah, schoolteachers are never going to like the idea of examinations. Especially in the ACT where they acted years ago to give the dummies an extra leg up by eliminating examinations in favour of continuous assessment.

dungfungus 8:36 am 14 Sep 14

justin heywood said :

HenryBG said :

The “lowest-common-denominator” approach of ACT educators has driven a record proportion of parents away from the public system which they view with much distrust as a result of its overwhelming focus on pandering to the worst achievers instead of supporting the best.

Spot on. We have the highest proportion of students in private schools of any jurisdiction. Apparently, when it comes to our own children, we aren’t willing to take part in grand social experiments.

Most teachers in the ACT public education system would have difficulty in finding employment in any ACT private school. Of course, no ACT private school would admit that as it would be referred to nanny at the Directorate of Discrimination.

justin heywood 10:39 pm 13 Sep 14

HenryBG said :

The “lowest-common-denominator” approach of ACT educators has driven a record proportion of parents away from the public system which they view with much distrust as a result of its overwhelming focus on pandering to the worst achievers instead of supporting the best.

Spot on. We have the highest proportion of students in private schools of any jurisdiction. Apparently, when it comes to our own children, we aren’t willing to take part in grand social experiments.

milkman 4:02 pm 13 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

HenryBG said :

If you want to help her achieve in this kind of testing, why not sign her up for the Uni of NSW examinations in Maths, Science and English? This will give her some excellent practice at doing tests of this nature.

I should also add that the teachers that I have spoken to about NAPLAN testing do not like it either. While not all teachers will agree with that view, those teachers to whom I have discussed NAPLAN hate it. Many see it as a waste of time that could be spent teaching other things, they too see it as placing unnecessary pressure on students, and they do not think it gives the accurate snapshot that our political overlords would have us believe. Anecdotal – yes. But still relevant to the discussion.

Teachers don’t like being compared or measured. I know a number of them and whenever the subject of performance was brought up (usually by them) they started shaking with indignation at the unfairness of it all.

Based on my experience with teachers (at my son’s high performing public school) they try when they feel like it, and have quite a few gaps in their knowledge. Introducing some proper performance management would be very good for them, I think.

I think NAPLAN is fine for looking at trends, but shouldn’t be framed and put on the wall. That said, it is a reasonable starting point for assessing kids’, and schools’, performance.

Masquara 3:35 pm 13 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

The NAPLAN results were promptly torn up and tossed out the window on Athllon Drive – they didn’t even deserve to be recycled.

I put it to you that NAPLAN tests tell you one thing only: how good a student is at doing NAPLAN tests in high-pressure situations that primary school students should not be subjected to.

Hopefully your daughter wasn’t in the car when you reacted like that. It would be more productive, surely, to work out why her test results didn’t reflect her ability, and have a conversation with the school. Mind you, of course, the school probably finds that ALL the parents whose kids don’t do well think their kids are really, really bright. And blame “high pressure” on the results. When there are heaps of kids who don’t feel that pressure and sail through the tests. From a broader society perspective, if you can’t sit tests and face pressure and challenges, you won’t do well in life. Broader society doesn’t know you’re brilliant, without evidence! : )

Antagonist 2:25 pm 13 Sep 14

HenryBG said :

If you want to help her achieve in this kind of testing, why not sign her up for the Uni of NSW examinations in Maths, Science and English? This will give her some excellent practice at doing tests of this nature.

I should also add that the teachers that I have spoken to about NAPLAN testing do not like it either. While not all teachers will agree with that view, those teachers to whom I have discussed NAPLAN hate it. Many see it as a waste of time that could be spent teaching other things, they too see it as placing unnecessary pressure on students, and they do not think it gives the accurate snapshot that our political overlords would have us believe. Anecdotal – yes. But still relevant to the discussion.

HenryBG 1:04 pm 13 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

Many university students struggle with this type of testing environment. Why would it be any easier for a Year 3 student? We let her make the choice if she wanted to do the testing or not. She chose to do it. To her it was about the experience – not the results. Her attitude is what impresses me. Not her results.

And yet your somewhat startling response to seeing the results involved ripping up bits of paper and throwing them from a moving car.

I just went and dug out one of my children’s Year3 NAPLAN reports out of curiosity.
It has 5 areas: Reading, Writing, Spelling, Grammar/Punctuation, & Numeracy.
The report I have in my hand right now shows the “national average” is in the middle of “Band 4” for 4 of those areas, and at the top of Band 4 for Grammar/Punctuation.
It then shows the “School average”, which averages out across the 5 areas to being about 75% up Band4, or a fraction above the national average.

Then it displays a black dot representing my child’s scores.
In Numeracy, the black dot is at the top of “Band 6”. In the other 4 areas, the black dot is outside the “Band” box, inside a little up-arrow indicating past the top of Band 6.

Now, I don’t recall teachers at the school ever telling me my child was “among the top students of the class” or “brighter than many children”, and somehow I imagine that these impressions of yours are impressions you’ve formed yourself, because it doesn’t strike me as a constructive thing for teachers to be telling you, nor a useful thing for you to be telling your child, and obviously hasn’t helped much with her NAPLAN results.

If you want to help her achieve in this kind of testing, why not sign her up for the Uni of NSW examinations in Maths, Science and English? This will give her some excellent practice at doing tests of this nature.

Maya123 12:34 pm 13 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Antagonist said :

The NAPLAN results were promptly torn up and tossed out the window on Athllon Drive – they didn’t even deserve to be recycled.

So your response to results you didn’t like was to tear up the paper and throw them onto the road, presumably while driving.

Did your daughter see you do this? What sort of example do you think this behaviour sets?

You presume incorrectly. I was not the driver.

I explained to her that there are different kinds of smarts. There are ‘hand smarts’ like her artistic mother or mechanic grandfather, and ‘academic smarts’ like her scientist father, economist grandmother, or her other grandfather who was an engineer at the ANU for over 40 years. I then went on to explain that in Year 3 NAPLAN tests do not tell her anything meaningful because she is so young, but *MAY* do in future years when she is older. At the moment it is the report cards from her teachers (the people that actually have face-to-face contact with her in a classroom environment) that give us a much better picture of how she is performing, and where she might need assistance or further development.

Many university students struggle with this type of testing environment. Why would it be any easier for a Year 3 student? We let her make the choice if she wanted to do the testing or not. She chose to do it. To her it was about the experience – not the results. Her attitude is what impresses me. Not her results.

But you still littered!

Antagonist 11:45 am 13 Sep 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Antagonist said :

The NAPLAN results were promptly torn up and tossed out the window on Athllon Drive – they didn’t even deserve to be recycled.

So your response to results you didn’t like was to tear up the paper and throw them onto the road, presumably while driving.

Did your daughter see you do this? What sort of example do you think this behaviour sets?

You presume incorrectly. I was not the driver.

I explained to her that there are different kinds of smarts. There are ‘hand smarts’ like her artistic mother or mechanic grandfather, and ‘academic smarts’ like her scientist father, economist grandmother, or her other grandfather who was an engineer at the ANU for over 40 years. I then went on to explain that in Year 3 NAPLAN tests do not tell her anything meaningful because she is so young, but *MAY* do in future years when she is older. At the moment it is the report cards from her teachers (the people that actually have face-to-face contact with her in a classroom environment) that give us a much better picture of how she is performing, and where she might need assistance or further development.

Many university students struggle with this type of testing environment. Why would it be any easier for a Year 3 student? We let her make the choice if she wanted to do the testing or not. She chose to do it. To her it was about the experience – not the results. Her attitude is what impresses me. Not her results.

HenryBG 8:06 pm 12 Sep 14

CollegeTeacher said :

HenryBG said :

The alternative is to provide parents with no information at all, thus eliminating their ability to exercise an informed choice.

Well I suppose that’s where we differ, because I don’t see how ‘an informed choice’ would ever lead to a better system. The OECD has also found that school ‘choice’ leads to no improvements whatsoever and in fact leads to greater segregation, entrenching of privilege and more inequity that leads to worse outcomes for the system as a whole.

Like I said, social engineering of the “system as a whole” is not the primary objective of parents who are choosing a school for their children.
If a parent has access to information that helps them choose the school with the fewest disruptive foetal-alcohol-syndrome violent thugs, then they will be able to make a better choice in the interests of their own child.

The “lowest-common-denominator” approach of ACT educators has driven a record proportion of parents away from the public system which they view with much distrust as a result of its overwhelming focus on pandering to the worst achievers instead of supporting the best.

mr_pink 4:13 pm 12 Sep 14

So much for all the dirctorate’s tosh about passionate lead educators, every chance to learn, diversity and inclusive classrooms. Privelaged kids get further privelaged and special needs kids get shafted and further stigmatised and the principals lead the way.

dtc 11:18 am 12 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

I disagree. We received NAPLAN results for our Year 3 daughter last week. She is very intelligent (both of her brothers are mentally disabled) and she is among the top students in her class. According to her teachers she is brighter than many children of her age and grade – and as her father I am biased here anyway. The results came back showing she was significantly below the national average in every single category. The NAPLAN results were promptly torn up and tossed out the window on Athllon Drive – they didn’t even deserve to be recycled.

I put it to you that NAPLAN tests tell you one thing only: how good a student is at doing NAPLAN tests in high-pressure situations that primary school students should not be subjected to.

Thats just weird, to be honest. Your daughter didnt do as well in a test as you thought she should, therefore the test is wrong? You might be of the view that year 3 kids shouldnt do the test at all, in which case why did she do it in the first place?

I am also suspicious of the ‘dont come along to the test’ notes/rumours. I’ve never heard anything like that across any of the Canberra schools, and have kids at 2 schools myself, relatives and friends at multiple other schools and several relatives who are teachers.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 10:15 am 12 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

The NAPLAN results were promptly torn up and tossed out the window on Athllon Drive – they didn’t even deserve to be recycled.

So your response to results you didn’t like was to tear up the paper and throw them onto the road, presumably while driving.

Did your daughter see you do this? What sort of example do you think this behaviour sets?

CollegeTeacher 9:17 am 12 Sep 14

HenryBG said :

The alternative is to provide parents with no information at all, thus eliminating their ability to exercise an informed choice.

Well I suppose that’s where we differ, because I don’t see how ‘an informed choice’ would ever lead to a better system. The OECD has also found that school ‘choice’ leads to no improvements whatsoever and in fact leads to greater segregation, entrenching of privilege and more inequity that leads to worse outcomes for the system as a whole. http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/5k9fq23507vc.pdf?expires=1410477822&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=D2163D4D63C9B4A477060C944D3D61F4

housebound 6:26 am 12 Sep 14

NAPLAN is just a series of tests. If your year 3 daughter didn’t do well, then she either isn’t cognitively ready for exams (kids develop at different rates), or you have learned that she might need help with exam strategies in the future. But Year 3 is far too young for that sort of thing anyway.

NAPLAN fraud, letters home etc are well documented. If I can find an online published source, I’ll post it here. It was pretty rampant in the years immediately after ACT school closures because Barr used ACTAP results (the precursor to NAPLAN and designed for resource allocation) in his selection of schools for closure, without regard to the starting points of the kids going into the schools. It meant that schools were suddenly very concerned about how they looked on paper. If you keep an eye on the media, NAPLAN fraud tends to be not too far away from mass school closures.

milkman 6:06 am 12 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

I disagree. We received NAPLAN results for our Year 3 daughter last week. She is very intelligent (both of her brothers are mentally disabled) and she is among the top students in her class. According to her teachers she is brighter than many children of her age and grade – and as her father I am biased here anyway. The results came back showing she was significantly below the national average in every single category. The NAPLAN results were promptly torn up and tossed out the window on Athllon Drive – they didn’t even deserve to be recycled.

I put it to you that NAPLAN tests tell you one thing only: how good a student is at doing NAPLAN tests in high-pressure situations that primary school students should not be subjected to.

Would it not be worthwhile talking with your daughter about how she found the tests, were they hard, etc? I also have a year 3 child who’s results came home last week.

We figured it was a good opportunity to talk to our son about tests, what they meant, how to approach them, etc. After a chat and some questions he was quite happy about attempting the tests, and scored very well.

I am not suggesting your daughter is not smart, or that NAPLAN is some magical oracle about our kids’ learning, but instead of ripping the paper up and littering the road, would it not be prudent to keep the results and compare them to next time to look for changes, or perhaps talk to the school about it?

dungfungus 10:31 pm 11 Sep 14

justin heywood said :

HenryBG said :

Where NAPLAN results become completely meaningless, however, is where a school engages in NAPLAN fraud by sending notes home with a subset of students encouraging them to take the day off, come NAPLAN day.
.

Schools have been “sending notes home to students encouraging them to take the [NAPLAN} day off” ?

Really? That would be incredibly foolish thing to do. Surely such a note would be political gold in the right hands.

Can you link to that Henry?

I can hear the computers whirring already.

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