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Revolting teachers back down on NAPLAN testing

By johnboy - 6 May 2010 18

Perhaps sensing that public opinion was not running strongly with them the education union is backing down from their NAPLAN testing boycott.

Andrew Barr is declaring victory.

“I am very pleased the ACT AEU has dropped their plans to boycott NAPLAN tests,” Mr Barr said. “This is good news for parents, carers and students.

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18 Responses to
Revolting teachers back down on NAPLAN testing
Jim Jones 10:19 am 07 May 10

georgesgenitals said :

I find it amazing that teachers resist performance assessment and management. I have a couple of relatives who are teachers, and you just have to mention ‘performance assessment’ to them and they throw a fit.

Other professional occupations (including mine) have performance management, why the hell can’t they? And don’t tell me it’s because ‘it won’t be done right and will be a compromise’ – welcome to how the rest of the professional world operates.

How often is your performance assessed by measuring the abilities of other people around you?

Cantily 8:27 am 07 May 10

+1 Tristero +1 Gerry-Built

Well said, but sadly that sort of common sense doesn’t make a good headline in a newspaper (or sadly) here either.

Gerry-Built 12:02 am 07 May 10

All the Union wanted was to have fair input into how data integrated into MySchool was used and to have poorly used/interpreted data removed. The AEU has no problem with NAPLAN, nor with transparency. The fact is that the Government refused to discuss the concerns raised by the teaching profession either prior to, or following publication of the website. Teachers – are *slightly* better placed to pass judgment on what is good for education than pig-headed politicians or bureaucrats. Many of the AEUs concerns have been widely documented, and often proved through experience in other countries.

@gp: Probably worth a strong mention, that despite the threat of pay deductions of $400+ per day (along with associated punitive action) and fines in-excess of $6000 per individual, most teachers in the ACT were actually willing to part with pay to stand up for the principles behind this threatened action. The threat of fines certainly didn’t greatly weaken resolve.

@Clown Killer: The Union you speak of is most of the public school teachers in the ACT, not a few unionists in a secluded office somewhere (our reps are very much representative of our members). We were “playing politics” FOR school children! Much of the data on MySchool tells a part-story at best, and missuses data at worst. Most teachers are supportive of NAPLAN and certainly accepting, if not supportive, of the transparency MySchool provides.

Also – I’ve said it here a few times before – most teachers would be happy to see “lazy and incompetent teachers” retrained, reassignment or removed from teaching. Because much of their workload shifts to more competent staff.

@Johnboy: The AEU has lifted the moratorium (from threatened NAPLAN action) because they were able to achieve a commitment from Gillard to allow them the opportunity to have some say in MySchool data use. Anybody who truly understood what the argument was about could do nothing but be supportive of the principle, at least (even if not the threatened action). Afterall, this Government’s ignoring information and input from “those in the know” worked so well on the Insulation Scheme and BER, didn’t it?

What you should all take from this is to know that teachers are willing to go to these sorts of lengths (and greater) to stand up for principles that support good educational policy, development and outcomes for a vast majority of your children (for those of you that have them – and the neighbourhood kiddies if you don’t).

urchin 10:53 pm 06 May 10

revolting is a bit strong. they’re not *that* ugly.

tristero 10:50 pm 06 May 10

As is the way with the media (and thus incomplete reporting), the reason NAPLAN is going ahead is because the fed gov agreed to the AEU’s requests for discussions about the misuse of data from the My School website.

We were never against NAPLAN, or the idea of My School site (just some of the current implementation), and none of the federal, or local, AEU press releases stated that. Such is selective reporting and selective reading.

Check out this press release from last week:

http://www.aeufederal.org.au/Media/MediaReleases/2010/2804.pdf

“Unless the Minister is willing to negotiate, the moratorium on the tests will remain in place.”

Today, finally, Gillard agreed to negotiate. We fulfilled our end of the bargain. So who really backed down?

Many teachers across Australia were prepared to not deliver the tests. The gov realised that Australian Public Educators had the critical mass. And quite opposite to what was being reported in the papers, there were enough schools across Australia participating to make an impact.

Interestingly, all the threatening letters, pay docking threats etc. caused teachers across the country to strengthen and work together more. If anything, those threats, and the number of teachers that were vocal about not being scared of them, have led to this end result.

The big issue has been the way that (mostly) newspapers have used the My School data to create league tables.

Today, DPM Julia Gillard agreed to work with unions (and many other important stakeholders) to ensure that the data on the My School is accurate and (in addition to other things) will not be used to create simplistic league tables.

It’s all spin really. It’s who you know, what you do, and what you care about.

Me? I’m a passionate public educator. I use the NAPLAN data to plan my teaching and deliver outcomes for my students’ future. I’m glad we’re 100% running the tests next week.

But I was prepared to support the moratorium (as were a great number of my colleagues) in order to stop the My School website data being used to simplistically rank schools based on results that, by the website’s assertion, should only be compared to like schools – of which the like-schools comparisons are a joke, and wrong as asserted by Principals across the country.

This is a win for students and education in Australia.

Johnboy, thanks for giving me the space to rant. I love this site, and often I find myself laughing at the one-sided prodding you are so good at. Today, it encouraged me to post.

Tristero.

thatsnotme 10:48 pm 06 May 10

gp said :

From a teacher’s point of view, NAPLAN tests and data are generally very good stuff, it’s the way the data is misused by the MySchool site to then create league tables.

I think what you meant to say was ‘the way the data is misused from the MySchool site… I don’t think you’ll find MySchool themselves creating league tables.

georgesgenitals 10:18 pm 06 May 10

I find it amazing that teachers resist performance assessment and management. I have a couple of relatives who are teachers, and you just have to mention ‘performance assessment’ to them and they throw a fit.

Other professional occupations (including mine) have performance management, why the hell can’t they? And don’t tell me it’s because ‘it won’t be done right and will be a compromise’ – welcome to how the rest of the professional world operates.

bd84 9:34 pm 06 May 10

Clown Killer said :

A win for common sense. I think in the end the teachers finally got the message that the community is sick and tired of union sh!tbags playing politics with school children. The only people who don’t want to see the Governments My School agenda succeed are the lazy and incompetent teachers and principals happy to take tax payers money and offer nothing in return.

Perhaps it’s the fault of the sh!tbag government trying to use the test that was designed to test individual students and report on their individual learning progress as a cheap political point scoring tool. Aggregating the individual results of students at schools does not provide a valid basis for determining that one school is better than another.

I can guarantee that every year the results will almost certainly show that schools in lower socio-economic areas will be at the lower part of the list, schools in high socio-economic areas will be in the upper part, the remaining schools will fall somewhere in between depending on where the students come from. There will also be students in every school who are above or below “average” and students who don’t care, but the results will scew as people run from the “low performing” schools and scatter throughout the system, reducing the average of most schools.

The tests should be used for the purposes for what they designed for which is helping individual students and parents identify areas where they need (or don’t need) learning assistance.

annoyedcan 9:25 pm 06 May 10

Clown Killer said :

A win for common sense. I think in the end the teachers finally got the message that the community is sick and tired of union sh!tbags playing politics with school children. The only people who don’t want to see the Governments My School agenda succeed are the lazy and incompetent teachers and principals happy to take tax payers money and offer nothing in return.

Sorry but you are really a clown. The media has not been telling the truth cause they want to publish league tables so been attacking the unions. Let’s have league tables for your work and everyone else, on a my job website to stop lazy and incompetent workers to take tax payers money and offer nothing in return.

The teachers want the tests because they are very helpful but don’t want information being used to rank schools. Go and speak to all the Mt Druitt kids (NSW Govt. changed the name of the school after the news paper story in the 90’s) and how they have had to deal with being told they were the worst in NSW and being ranked. The teachers are not playing politics with children they are protecting them from being hurt by these tables. Why don’t we publish which parents, who’s kids don’t do homework or parents who don’t attend parent teacher nights. Why don’t we publish every kids report card or even lets publish all criminal records on mycrimrecords website.

The teachers have back down now as the Minster for a Nasal Voice has agreed to some of the union’s request and is now willing to talk to teachers instead of being upher…!!!!

I hope the ACT Work Safety Commissioner investigates the bullying the ACT department of education has been doing to staff.

I am not a teacher but someone who witnessed how bad these tables can be. We DONT need myschool and we DONT need tables. Maybe if parents did what my parents did when I was a kid and visit the school and played a role in the kids’ education. Kids might learn and improve instead of using a school as a babysitting service. It goes both ways. Teachers don’t go to your work and tell you what to do so don’t tell them, they have the training not some minster who has no idea.

Lazy I 8:25 pm 06 May 10

I hope the unions add this to the portfolio of crowning achievements they hand around to impressionable young grads when attempting to woo them out of their hard earned the first week on the job in the PS.

Kuku 8:23 pm 06 May 10

Analyse. Clearly I must have needed some sort of spelling test before I posted.

Kuku 8:21 pm 06 May 10

Clown Killer said :

A win for common sense. I think in the end the teachers finally got the message that the community is sick and tired of union sh!tbags playing politics with school children. The only people who don’t want to see the Governments My School agenda succeed are the lazy and incompetent teachers and principals happy to take tax payers money and offer nothing in return.

Rubbish. Incompetent/scared/subjugated teachers will teach to the tests. Think not? Have a look at your child’s homework over the last couple of months. How many ‘stories’ have they written within a specific time? How many maths tests have they done within a time period.

What does this say about the teacher? Nothing. It shows how they can teach children to comply with a specific test. What does it say about the school? Not much unless the parents are prepared to critically analyise what is making that school ‘so good’.

Think parents please….

(Disclaimer: I am not a teacher or a member of the AEU)

Clown Killer 7:34 pm 06 May 10

A win for common sense. I think in the end the teachers finally got the message that the community is sick and tired of union sh!tbags playing politics with school children. The only people who don’t want to see the Governments My School agenda succeed are the lazy and incompetent teachers and principals happy to take tax payers money and offer nothing in return.

GnT 7:22 pm 06 May 10

Conveniently face-saving for both sides.

gp 5:35 pm 06 May 10

Possibly helped by the education department threatening docking pay for anything from 4 hours to an entire month for any teacher participating in the action against league tables?

Maybe some of the very direct, very threatening letters from the education department, followed by the “if you were professional, you’d issue the tests” letters sent daily to all teachers?

From a teacher’s point of view, NAPLAN tests and data are generally very good stuff, it’s the way the data is misused by the MySchool site to then create league tables. Teachers were in a hell of a spot, between getting info that helps the students over many years from the NAPLAN tests, and being told that the data will also harm schools and the kids at those schools. Rock, meet hard place.

I’m glad it has been resolved, but I think the union has backed down because teachers were getting the point where they had to go with the department, or look at hundreds or thousands of dollars lost, to go against a test which they believe in anyway.

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