About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Clear and Honest Reporting - Tart Up that data!

So the data isn't pretty enough to show parents yet? Does that mean clear and honest reporting has to be 'tarted up' first? Interesting. I wonder if it made his positivist brain explode?

I imagine John Key's feelings are akin to the ones you get when you are an actual educationalist, you know, the ones that actually teach children. You come up with this great idea, you invest a lot of time into it. And often, especially when you are a beginner, you will even fund the idea with your hard earned money.

The day comes, you pat yourself on the back as the most amazing educational breakthrough is about to be unleashed! Guess what? - it's not what you think it was going to be. Sometimes you even find out that your great idea has been tried (and failed) before. It's all a bit disappointing, it's all a bit ropey.

Why? Because there is no single solution to teaching and learning. Children are all different. They are not tidy inputs. They bring with them a variety of different experiences and ideas, and they certainly do not output tidy data packages.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again (and again). The problem lies in our assessment methods:
  • We are using 19th century tools to assess 21st century learning
  • We are encouraging children to think outside the square, then demanding they complete multiple choice tests
  • We tell our learners that they learn best when they collaborate, then insist that they take a test in silence and in isolation
  • We open our learner's eyes to a range of 21st century tools then measure their knowledge allowing them to use only pencil and paper
  • We cheer at conferences about unleashing creativity then measure 'achievement' by looking only at Numeracy and Literacy
  • We encourage children to re-craft their writing and then we measure their writing ability (using a one-off , e.g. AsTTle, test where they are required to write for 45 mins, in silence with no resources)
  • We tell ourselves that we have standardised assessment systems (yet a 'Stage 6' in maths means one thing at one school and something else at the next)
  • We have different teachers with different beliefs, who move readers through the levels for different reasons (decoding, comprehension, consolidation)
  • And as for moderation meetings - you could write a TV series on them alone.
So the data, ropey as it might be, is bogus anyway. Even if we did get to a point where the data was all presented in the same pretty format, and the children all took the same test, it will actually tell us NOTHING. And while we are on this 'one test' chances are that it will be Eurocentric (which, by the way, is not addressed by simply switching the subject's names from John to Hone). Questions will require only one narrow answer and the 'results' will be spat out by some efficient machine.

But ... the data will be tidy, and the league tables will be easily generated by the push of a button. If that's what he wants, chances are, that's what he will get.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your post Tara - if that's the right term for this kind of topic. It reminded me that I am actually in the midst of the grief cycle for education that nearly was... You hit the nail on the head with your list of problems with our assessment methods and it seems to be that only a few of even our best educators will understand what you mean, let alone our parents, community and politicians... Our school is very much data driven at the moment and while we are trying to upskill teachers with "21st Century" learning and digital tools... It is getting harder and harder to get their buy in when what seems to count is targets and tests!