Learning from the PISA results

I attended a meeting of the Minister's Forum today where we had further discussion around what we can learn from the latest PISA results, and implications for future policy and professional decision making in the NZ education sector.  We began the day by viewing a webcast from Andreas Schleicher, the international 'architect' of the PISA process (see video above). A key point he makes is that global comparisons such as PISA allow us to see what's possible in education – a useful perspective I feel as we begin to see the media frenzy begin.  An old colleague of mine, and … Continue reading Learning from the PISA results

Standards for teachers

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuKceiCvMEg?hl=en_US&version=3&w=420&h=247%5D While I've been at the CoSN conference this week there has been a lot of discussion about the Common Core in the US and other standards-based approaches being adopted in various countries around the world (incudiing NZ). The focus of these initiatives is on defining a set of standards which represent the goals and assessment targets for students at various stages in their learning journey. The promoters of such initiatives argue that standards-based instruction allows teachers, students and parents to be on the same page, providing explicit and shared understandings of expectations at different levels and how these are … Continue reading Standards for teachers

Prepared for life?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY2mRM4i6tY?hl=en_US&version=3&w=448&h=252%5D Here at the CoSN conference in San Diego there is much talk about the Common Core standards that are being implemented in the US, and how a strict adherence to meeting these can and is stifling creativity and flexibility in educaiton. The same debate is going on in NZ over the implementation of national standards. My own view is that national standards can be helpful to our education system, if the main purpose is to provide general guidelines about what students should know and be able to do as they progress through school. Their purpose should be to act as an … Continue reading Prepared for life?

Government priorities for 2011

Yesterday’s Statement to Parliament by Prime Minister John Key provides an insight into what we can expect as priorities in education in 2011 – high on the list are ECE and National Standards. Early Childhood We value early childhood education (ECE) because we know it helps prepare children for future learning and assists parents to participate in the workforce. However, we are concerned that New Zealand won’t be able to afford record ECE funding increases into the future. Furthermore, we are concerned that in recent years these increases have not achieved the results we would expect, particularly in terms of … Continue reading Government priorities for 2011

Planning and assessment….

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVXhA_hs2J8&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3&w=426&h=260%5D Sometimes it’s necessary to simply laugh out loud and be reminded of how silly a lot of our educational jargon and phraseology sounds to other people. The video above did that for me – providing a refreshing break from an otherwise intense afternoon of report writing. My favourite bit is where the ‘bureaucrat’ says… “You can’t know what you are teaching if you didn’t assess students’ strengths and weaknesses for your differentiation when you collaboratively plan standards of teaching pedagogy.” The sad thing is I kept hearing the echoes of things I’ve heard on political broadcasts, school assemblies, … Continue reading Planning and assessment….

First National Standards Report published

One of the speakers at the ELF conference I’ve been attending today was Minister of Education, Anne Tolley. She spoke to the gathered leaders about the National Party’s rationale for introducing national standards, and alluded to the content of the first report on NS released  today. National Standards: School Sample Monitoring and Evaluation Project has been produced by Maths Technology Ltd, and provides the first insights into what is happening with the implementation process in NZ schools. I’ve yet to read it fully, but here’s a quick glimpse of the key findings: Results from the principal survey indicate that: The … Continue reading First National Standards Report published

Creativity vs. stress

Interesting read this morning to follow my last post – an article from Newsweek titled “the Creativity Crisis“. It begins with the assertion that for the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. This conclusion has been drawn after analysing the lifetime achievements of a group of 400 children who were a part of a study involving a series of creativity tasks designed by E. Paul Torrance back in the 1950s. The research found that those who came up with more good ideas on Torrance’s tests of creative thinking grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, … Continue reading Creativity vs. stress

Measuring the right things

I’ve just read a fascinating publication from Microsoft titled “Interoperability: Improving Education” which came about as a result of 10 or so educators and ICT practitioners who were brought together by Microsoft for a meeting running alongside the annual NAACE conference held in Blackpool, England, earlier this year. The brief was to talk about the way that schools use pupil data. And the wisdoms that ensued are contained in an new Microsoft discussion document for school leaders and local authorities, “Interoperability: Improving schools” (download the PDF here). The contents of this paper provide timely insights for NZ educators because it … Continue reading Measuring the right things

UK diary – The purpose of league tables

I’ve been in the UK for three weeks now, and am about to board a plane home – wonderful trip, great people, lots of good contacts etc. but feel I’m ready for home now 🙂 I’ve blogged previously about the conversations I’ve had here about standardised testing and league tables as they’ve been used here in England – but it’s taken me until now to fully understand exactly what the purpose of league tables is. All was revealed just a couple of nights ago as I was relaxing after a series of meetings in London, watching episode 4 of the … Continue reading UK diary – The purpose of league tables

National Standards

National Standards aim to lift achievement in literacy and numeracy (reading, writing, and mathematics) by being clear about what students should achieve and by when. This will help students; their teachers and parents, families and whānau better understand what they are aiming for and what they need to do next. (NZ Ministry of Education) Whatever your position on national standards it is difficult to disagree with the tenor of the quote at the top of this post – it’s the implementation of processes to meet this aspiration that will cause debate. I unfortunately missed being able to attend the meeting … Continue reading National Standards