No to League Tables
“Have we introduced league tables? No.” Hekia Parata said this in a meeting at a school as she rattled off a number of things ‘scaremongers’ had said would happen in regards to GERM. This included things like Performance Pay. This statement on league tables is also in addition to this article from 2012.
Obviously however, John Key wants them; and so he gets the media to do the dirty work, even encouraging them to do so in the aforementioned article.
And respond they did. Whilst Fairfax’s “School Report” has been out for a while now, it is now being advertised, with words like ‘rate’, and ‘compare’ being bandied about like red paint on a fire engine.
Why are teachers and schools so against league tables?
David Shearer (Labour Leader at the time) touched on a few of the concerns in the earlier article. It goes further than just what he addressed though.
Take a small school. Decile 1 or 2. Even 3. Lots of poverty in its community. Health issues due to poor living conditions, damp houses and cold, harsh nights in the middle of winter. Families split, both parents working full time to break even. The kids love the school.
The teachers work hard. They’re trained. They undertake PLD. They genuinely care and want the best for the kids; not just the ones in their class, but all tamariki that come through their gates. There are major success stories, but are generally few and far between.
The teachers are good teachers. Children who have started life on the back foot and who are facing continual struggle in life are making amazing progress each year, but are still “below” the untrialled and untested National Standards that this government hangs its hat on. The children wouldn’t make the same progress if the teachers weren’t any good.
But along comes Fairfax media and their “School Report”. It shows that this school is ‘failing’ compared with School B down the road (who may or may not be inflating their National Standards results). Their teachers may be good, but also might have a community where students aren’t walking down struggle street, and achieving at school is the number one priority. The amount of progress that they have to make is minimal in comparison, and their teaching staff may be able to relax and not work as hard in order to maintain certain results.
Parents of the first school compare and begin to buy into the league table problem. They leave school A with its hard working teachers, whose progress and dedication to their students is unrivalled, yet don’t show up in the broad umbrella of “below”, and go to greener pastures.
School A loses students. The roll decreases. They lose a classroom and a teaching position. Eventually another leaves, and another. The school gets smaller, and the results don’t change, to the point where it is forced to merge or become one of the government’s heralded Charter Schools.
This is why league tables are dangerous. They compare apples with shackles, oranges with hairties. They force assumption that schools with poor results have bad teachers, when quite often the opposite is true. A lot of teachers would simple cave under pressure, give up, or be eaten alive in School A with the requirements of it’s akonga. They would equally struggle to not only raise the achievement level, but just maintain it.
So when I see an advertisement to compare schools while I’m reading the latest news, I get annoyed. Frustrated. Because I am a good teacher. I work hard for my students and my students work hard for me. They are a challenge, but the hard work brings reward. They make phenomenal progress each year while they are in the shadows of elephants in the room that no one wants to acknowledge; but these improvements, no matter how amazing, fail to show up in a simple pie graph showing banded results. Some of these students will go from a reading age of 5 and a half, to a reading age of 7; yet because they are 8, are still below.
The public compares schools. School A must be rubbish, with dead-beat teachers. I don’t want my child going there.
Thanks Fairfax. I’m sure John Key appreciates the dirty work you’ve gone and done for him.