Communities of Schools based on a monster Parata lie: Don’t sign to it

There arrived this morning a forlorn one line from a teacher in an Auckland leafy suburb school.

Dear Kelvin

NZEI knew the agenda but seems to have given up attempting to defend the members.

I replied:

Yes – NZEI let you down.


In my posting on 21st century school education, I describe how the government has placed primary and secondary schools in a high stakes situation as a matter of policy.

Those high stakes will be raised even further by changes to the Education Act serving to increase the range of interventions available for use in Communities of Schools; by the EDUCANZ appraisal system; and the Education Reports signed by Communities of Schools.

In the posting link above, I describe the testing and marking inflation occurring throughout the school education system: in secondary at the government-set benchmark of NCEA Level 2; and in primary at national standards.

A posting described how Hekia Parata told a lie of massive import to school education (and to Communities of Schools) – a lie upon which the entire government education policy pivots.

Parata stood up to answer a question on socio-economic factors and their effect on children’s learning. She informed the House that her answer was drawn from a large OECD and PISA study with it concluding that only 18% of children’s learning was statistically explained by socio-economic factors.

‘That means’, she said triumphantly, ‘that 82 percent of student achievement is not statistically explained by socio-economic factors.’

The entire government education policy has for long been based on that 18% or roundabout it. But now it has been uttered outright. That 18% or roundabout it, has been used to deny resources to schools especially reduced class sizes; to develop the  ‘quality teacher’ argument as an alternative; and to place schools under tight bureaucratic control on the grounds they can’t be relied on to do the right thing.

And that 18% is the underpinning figure for the Community of Schools’ policy.

But can you believe it? (unfortunately only too easily) Parata lied and it wasn’t by accident, it was by design for the Communities of Schools, especially for them.

The actual data the OECD study draws on is Figure 11.2.8. (p. 48) The average of what is explained by socio-economic factors for all PISA countries is just over 60%. NZ comes in at about 78% (almost spot on with Richard Harker’s findings of 80% in NZ in 1995).  Finally the report says ‘In Chile, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Peru and Slovenia more than 75% of the performance difference between schools is explained by the socio-economic status of students and schools.’ (OECD 2013, p. 49).

So it is not 18% but 78%.

The 18% is a barefaced and monster lie.

The performance difference between schools explained by socio-economic status is 78% not Parata’s 18%.

In the lead-up to the development of the Education Reports for Communities of School, Parata has been in overdrive. In a recent Herald she placed an article based on that fantastically false figure of 18% and specious arguments deriving from it. The following week, her EDUCANZ chairperson, Barbara Ala’alatoa, did a follow-up article, mischievously allocating the ‘decile is not destiny’ argument to one resorted to by teachers.  All of this to get Communities of Schools to commit to inappropriate targets; targets most schools will ‘achieve’, of course, but oh the damage to children’s learning and teacher professionalism.

Are we descending into education madness?

Hekia Parata has been revealed as a liar, and in the House, on something central to the education of New Zealand children, and not coincidentally, Communities of Schools.

She has surely lost the moral authority to continue as minister of education.

When is this ministerial charade to undermine and underfund state schools going to be exposed?

Attached you can see three Community of Schools’ Education Reports.

Blenheim Achievement Challenges.

Catholic Schools Achievement Challenges

Mid-Bays (Auckland) Achievement Challenges

They are based on the 18% idea, therefore based on a lie.

No principal should sign to a Communities of Schools’ Education Report until the government changes that number and the narrative.

The national standards figures of many schools are already inflated, and with the high stakes set to increase in the Community of Schools’ context, the national standards figures are set to lift higher in  deeply distortive tandem (especially in lower decile schools).

The Communities of Schools’ documents will contain some worthwhile aspirations but, as one primary school leader expostulated: ‘They are bunkum [or a word to that effect]; it is all about those targets, and they are pernicious.’

And it is and they are.

I return to the forlorn one line letter that began this posting.

Yes – NZEI has given up; NZPF more adroit, but it also.

So that leaves schools to make a stand.

Get your board of trustees on side.

And at the document meeting, you might say – yes – I’m  here, but that doesn’t mean I am going to sign up to any old document; I refuse to sign to a document based on a lie.

Then argue for the Community of Schools to proceed in a different way, a way based on the New Zealand Curriculum and, in relation to assessment, on the two ways set out on page 39.

As a professional educator, sign only to the truth as you best understand it. You have an overwhelming moral and evidential right to do so.

Don’t sign to a lie.

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9 Responses to Communities of Schools based on a monster Parata lie: Don’t sign to it

  1. 111peggyb says:

    Keep up the good work – you give me hope!!!

    Peggy Burrows

  2. Peter Ferris says:

    I, for one, can’t believe that so many Principal’s [ and maybe BOT’s] have been so willing to conform to the MOE’s pressure and sign up to COS. Professionally I always thought Principal’s had far more spine and that the majority were very confident about the job they were doing. Suddenly they lack confidence in their leadership and have all decided to become lemmings …. have their BOT’s really listened or even questioned why they are placing their ‘Self Managing’ at risk. I can just about hear the raucous laughter at the caucus xmas party …. a knighthood for Hekia, she has [ with a little help from her friends] brought about the demise of self managing schools. I hope there are a few of us left who are prepared to continue doing what we know is right.

  3. Kelvin says:

    This posting suggests a way for schools to take a stand on principle giving them back the initiative and providing a powerful argument to communicate to boards and the public.

  4. 78% instead of 18% mmm Hekia you “should have gone to Spec Savers”

  5. Melulater says:

    I’m leaving teaching, or at least full time class teaching, at the end of this year because I’m morally opposed to the Community of Schools/Community of Learning GERM ethos that has been forced upon us. As an active GERM opponent, it’s time to say “No more – I won’t work in this system”.

    • Kelvin says:

      You mentioned this before Melulater. I am sorry you are leaving, but obviously understand why. All the best, Keep in touch with site, and thanks for your contribution.

      • Melody says:

        Oh no Melulater! What a sad loss to the education system! I have enjoyed our collegiality on Twitter and I hope you will keep up you uplifting presence there!

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