The data being used to make judgements on how New Zealand schools are performing is always drawn from national standards and NCEA – but all are considerably inflated. These postings suggest 8-12% for national standards (considered conservative by many) but soon to rocket under clusters; and 20% for NCEA, though this is very complicated.
Quick fire evidence for this inflation is the moderately rising national standards results and steadily falling PISA ones; and the surge in results when children move from contributing to intermediate. And for NCEA , the regular reports of students going to university being very poorly equipped to contend with demands; the recent report by the government-contracted Dunedin research firm which painted a dire picture of students’ ability to read, write, do number, and to think; and the revealing difference in results between school-based NCEA units and external ones.
The postings below describe how the government is, in fact, relying on schools to inflate national standards and NCEA to disguise the reality that the wrong structures and policies are in place and have been for decades. Top-down organisational control keeps teachers and critics quiet but it is guaranteed to produce poor learning results in children. The government, readers will find, has structured schools and assessment procedures as a dog-whistle invitation to schools to inflate those results.
In education, high stakes assessment always leads to assessment inflation, and to even more extravagant effect if schools set the tests, marks, and grades the results (as happens with national standards and much of NCEA). A recent development, as an example of the government’s organisation for assessment inflation, all clusters have more-or-less had to set 85% as the national standards target irrespective of the socio-economic environment the children are drawn from. That will apply hyper-high-stakes pressure on many schools. With such inflation as a cover, what incentive is there for the government to fund schools appropriately or to implement the right policies for improving learning – it prefers, of course, to implement policies that are cheap and that maintain its hold on schools and teachers; or incentive for schools to buck the losing policies insisted on by the government for policies they know are better – so much easier to just give the results a nudge.
The penny for the media won’t drop anytime soon but it will drop.
Former senior inspector of schools