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Greens courting the education unions

By johnboy 14 April 2010 19

The NAPLAN (National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy) battle continues to rage.

Essentially parents and the mainstream political parties are united in wanting access to data on children’s and schools’ performance.

Against them stand the teachers, who are refusing to administer the tests if anyone’s allowed to see the results.

The Greens’ Meredith Hunter is taking a nuanced view, not quite willing to attack the wildly popular MySchool website, but wanting a review before any more tears are shed.

“It is not acceptable that the evaluation of the new system, which was agreed upon by all Education Ministers, has not been done. Meanwhile, information from the site, re-published in the media, is causing real concern for schools, teachers, parents and students.”

Here in the ACT the plan is for Departmental staff to administer the tests in the face of hostile teacher. That’ll make for an interesting atmosphere in the staff room.

What’s Your opinion?

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Greens courting the education unions
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Gerry-Built 2:59 pm 15 Apr 10

georgesgenitals said :

Most other professional jobs have performance measurements applied.

ACT DET already has a performance framework (Professional Pathways) in place for teaching staff and admin staff (though as far as I am aware it is not currently linked into pay scales – though this is changing soon; or has already). Most teachers I have spoken to are pro-performance pay (“Leading Teacher” category); however, every suggestion that has come forward so far leaves a lot to be desired or is very sketchy on detail. For example, the most recent mooted, capped the numbers of teachers that could be appointed to the top level (involving additional pay), another suggested assessment/feedback from parents/students be the measure. There is certainly no room within the current workload to permit peer assessment (which would be probably a good – or the best – way to do it IMHO).

Clown Killer said :

which is why so many members of the union are so frightened of NAPLAN, MySchool and transparency.

In my experience – you won’t find many teachers frightened of NAPLAN, MySchool and transparency. Teachers/schools have always used NAPLAN to help identify areas for improvement in their curriculum, are happy enough with most aspects of the MySchool website and we certainly accept transparency as a given. I have certainly seen no culture of the type you hint at.

georgesgenitals said :

…and the lower performers should be either managed into better performance, or removed (like most other professions).

Exactly …and most teachers would agree with this too – because in the end, other teachers pick up some of the workload of poor performers anyhow. Most schools and teachers would be happy with any process that removes the “dead wood”… (despite there not being many of these).

georgesgenitals 8:39 am 15 Apr 10

I’m curious as to why so many teachers are so passionately opposed to having performance measurement applied to them. Leaving aside for a moment that work would need to be done to deteremine an appropriate measurement framework, why is it that teachers get so worked up about this? Most other professional jobs have performance measurements applied (including mine).

I don’t think not having a current performance framework is an excuse for resisting performance management in principle. Clearly, there are some teachers who are better than others. The good ones should be rewarded, and the lower performers should be either managed into better performance, or removed (like most other professions).

Clown Killer 6:54 am 15 Apr 10

It wouldn’t surprise me to find that the Greens are looking to get into bed with some of the more extremist organisations on the far left. It’s an area left vacant by Labor as it seeks to reinvent itself as a mainstream political party.

Unfortunately, the Greens will need to be cautious given the realities of the issue at hand – the production and free dissemination of data on student performance. The education union loathes this not because of their confected concern for students or imagined faults with the approach but for the simple fact that it exposes underperformance and incompetence at the school level. The harsh reality is that the only people with anything to fear out on this are incompetent teachers and principals – which is why so many members of the union are so frightened of NAPLAN, MySchool and transparency.

Gerry-Built 1:01 am 15 Apr 10

I’m willing to put money on the fact that teachers will administer NAPLAN in the usual manner – I doubt it will come to the threatened action. The Federal Government will make arrangements to conduct the reviews they said they would, and will also meet with the AEU to discuss the concerns raised by educationalists across the country.

However, even if teachers do refuse to administer the test, there certainly will not be any hostility from them towards appropriate people doing so; indeed DET has a large number of exam invigilators who have already had police checks – though there is little chance there would be enough to cover NAPLAN.

Teachers and schools use information garnered from NAPLAN as an analytical and diagnostic tool to check on their students’ progress (particularly individual student results) and areas for improvement. This was the intended purpose of the tests. No school, or indeed teacher, is afraid of what the NAPLAN results might say about them – in fact, quite the opposite. The issues are about how that information is used on the Myschool website to create simplistic overviews of schools (the red or green charts for instance), misleading comparisons of schools, the league tables that have resulted (within hours of the site going live) – but most strongly, because the Government has refused to meet with the AEU to even discuss the issues raised prior to, or following the launch of the site, and has ignored the advice and suggestions it had put forward.

see more info at: or

All teachers are just going to get on with their job of educating students, but why should we sit by and watch NAPLAN results become a sinister source for poorly informed comparisons?

bd84 11:28 pm 14 Apr 10

The only thing the union is protesting against is that the information gained from the tests is being misused to paint a picture of schools and teachers that is misleading.

The tests were designed to inform parents and teachers as to the progress of their children in the main fundamental learning areas and to assist them get the help they need to improve, not to be publically reported on a website.

Krudd and co. have turned the tests as a political football which has only achieved finger pointing at schools, teachers and students in lower socioeconomic areas. You now have children at “poorly performing” schools being yanked out by mummy and daddy and placed at a different school so they can perform poorly there too. They may as well rip the tests up now as they are just about useless, much like the current government.

caf 11:09 pm 14 Apr 10

Oyster: If it’s such a “utopian wonderland”, why aren’t you doing the job?

The MySchools website seems like a good start, but it’s really not showing the right data. The test results themselves aren’t really what we should be trying to measure – it’s the change in the test results achieved as a cohort moves through the school that is the true measure of the value the school is adding.

MWF 11:07 pm 14 Apr 10

I detest the ACT AEU they are incompetent and their toadying to the ACT Minister for Education really is funny. I’m with Nyssa on this one.

My children’s school performed abysmally on the My Schools site. I like the site. It backs up what I’ve been telling the Principal of the school my kids attend for years “Please teach them to read and write, please….?” Of course the Principal poo poohed my parental feedback and continued doing whatever the hell it is they do at that school all day. They draw and paint shitloads of stuff.

Since the My School website showed all of us parents what a shit of a school our kids attend……..OH MY GOD! The school has focused on teaching English and Maths. How utterly outrageous. It’s a pity the Principal didn’t listen to the parents years ago, it’s shameful that so may families have moved their children to other schools – families that were on the school board even. Presidents of the P&C even. President of the School Board even.


dungarubba 9:31 pm 14 Apr 10

There is nothing useful in league tables…what the AEU is opposing is not the testing but the use of the data to name and shame by well regarded educational commentators like the Canberra Crimes. There is no way out for the shamed and no room at the acclaimed…great work nyssa76 to help make matters worse not better. It is a credit to the Greens that they can at least oppose the (mob) orthodoxy.

Fisho 7:29 pm 14 Apr 10

Probably just waiting to see if there is something they can ban to make themselves feel good.

Primal 6:55 pm 14 Apr 10

Thumper said :

“taking a nuanced view,”

Hehe, code for refusing to take a stand either way.

Better this than taking a side just because it’s not what the other mob thinks.

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster 5:20 pm 14 Apr 10

The only reason teachers don’t like the My Schools website or league tables is because they’re afraid of being exposed as slack and don’t want to be held accountable for what they are (and in most cases aren’t) teaching. The Teachers’ Federation (or whatever they’re called this week) are a white-collar version of the old BLF and are trying to preserve a utopian wonderland where they work as little time as possible and are answerable to nobody.

PM 4:51 pm 14 Apr 10

astrojax said :

though many might wish otherwise, i think you’ll find, nyssa, the PM in canberra is kevin rudd…

Oh yeah? Just wait ’til the revolution 😉

astrojax 4:11 pm 14 Apr 10

PM in Canberra it is Penny Gilmour

though many might wish otherwise, i think you’ll find, nyssa, the PM in canberra is kevin rudd…

nyssa76 3:22 pm 14 Apr 10

housebound it’s called a police check and ANYONE who works with children (supervisory or otherwise) is required to have them.

Given there are 4 1/2 weeks until NAPLAN I highly doubt the required number of checks would be done to cater to those ‘administrators’ who do not normally require the necessary checks e.g. desk workers.

We are talking about supervising students, some as young as 8yo. It is a safety concern.

As for credentials I’d happy show mine and my non-union card (if it existed) to you.

PM in Canberra it is Penny Gilmour.

PM 12:45 pm 14 Apr 10

Who is in charge of the AEU nowadays? A while back it was controlled by a bunch of ex-communists. At least communists had a hope of success eg they could organise the odd revolution from time to time.

housebound 12:40 pm 14 Apr 10

So nyssa76 – does that mean parents should refuse to allow their children to sit any tests until they’ve seent the credentials of the exam supervisors?

It is pretty odd that a Labor government would seek to deliberately undermine a union like this, especially after the $30 million role the unions played in getting rid of Howard. But that view probably reflects my lack of knowledge of the back-room dealings going on right now. (And where is the CPSU on its members being used as strike breakers?)

Thumper 12:29 pm 14 Apr 10

“taking a nuanced view,”

Hehe, code for refusing to take a stand either way.

nyssa76 12:05 pm 14 Apr 10

Actually what will happen, if the union still refuses to assist, is non-union members such as myself who are trained in SMART Data (the collation of student participation etc) will be up for it.

ACTDET will not have adequate time to run police checks on all non-teaching staff who will be there to administer the testing in 4 1/2 weeks time and as a parent of a Yr 5 student who is to sit NAPLAN soon, I do not want just ‘anyone’ off the streets to supervise my child.

Now for a swipe at the AEU – they had plenty of time in February, after the release of MySchool website to actually file with the AIRC and do this properly. Their tantrum like tactics are the very reason I am not a member nor will I ever be.

PM 12:01 pm 14 Apr 10

Ah, yes… “taking a nuanced view,” AKA a soundbite designed to not piss anyone off.

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