Issue 1 : National Standards- a contemporary issue?!
One of the three key areas in which New Zealand schools need to improve is that of assessment ” to know about, and plan for, students’ learning.” (Education Review Office, 2012)
To what extent does assessing my learners against National Standards achieve this?
- Moderation among and across teaching communities in order to create objective, consistent ‘Overall Teacher Judgements’
- Knowing how the curriculum pertains to levels of learning has been deepened by a focus on documents such as the Literacy Learning Progressions.
- Forming O.T.Js based on a range of material is more relevant than one based solely on a levelled running record.
- The implementation of National Standards has heightened the intensity with which we gather and use such data in order to know about our learners.
My views reflect those found in Wylie and Berg, that for most teachers the biggest gain has come from moderation and collegial discussions. (Wylie & Berg, 2013, p.9)
But then again...
- If the vision is ” confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners” (Ministry of Education, 2007) how does consistently reporting to a child and parents that this child is ‘below’ or ‘well below’ standard (or even the sugar-coated ‘working towards’) contribute to that vision?
- Linda Stuart, principal of May Rd school, says, “success looks different according to where you’re working from. Many of our kids are on the back foot to start with.” She continues by describing the research showing that ESOL children can take up to seven years to gain academic language proficiency. (Gracewood, 2015)
- Where do we fit ‘art for art’s sake? Has the curriculum narrowed?This is described in the RAINS report (2013) as ” almost guilty pleasures for teachers.”
- Is there now ” a two-tier curriculum across richer and poorer schools by giving permission to, and incentivising, an even tighter concentration on numeracy and literacy.” (Thrupp & White, 2013)
- Teaching time is what gives when assessments are needed.
One-on-one assessment x 30 learners= less time for teaching and learning
The Obama administration in the U.S has called upon no more than two percent of class time to be spent on assessments. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/us/obama-administration-calls-for-limits-on-testing-in-schools.html?_r=0
What exactly does assessing against the Standards achieve for individual learners?
- Very little, if not accompanied by consistent, targeted learning.
- A focus on identification and an emphasis on the need for the current teacher to get these children ‘up’ to standard as quickly as possible but little practical help in how exactly to do this.
- Targets work best when there is a shared responsibility for developing strategies to accelerate progress and worst when practical support gives way to an emphasis on merely measuring progress.
- Best achieved by collaborative teaching with an emphasis on whole-school responsibility, much like that seen in Finland.In this team meeting, those involved talk from their knowledge of the child, rather than relying on justification from tests. There are no huge folders in sight! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsdFi8zMrYI.
- Implications: choosing carefully the language with which I discuss standards with both children and parents. I need to give hope- education is a long journey, and certainly not finished by the end of Year 6. Hope is rationalised by knowing my learner, their needs and what the team, ‘we’ not ‘I’, can do to move them further on this journey.
Issue 2: : Student Voice, Student Choice: Choose your own pathway.
“New Zealand prides itself on its child-centred approach to learning, yet ERO’s national evaluations would suggest that practice is not matching the rhetoric. ERO has found that some schools are not positioning students at the centre of learning and teaching.” (Education Review Office, 2012)
- Heutagogy, the study of self-determined learning, puts the power of what is learnt firmly in the hands of the learner.
- Learners take control of what and why they need to learn. This is particularly well suited to a world in “which connectivity, creativity and reflexivity are foundational to global citizenship and collaboration.” (Herie, M.)
All learning, to some extent, is self-determined- we can lead that horse to water, but as for the drinking…
Doing + prior knowledge+ emotional response= making sense of our world.
- As the world evolves around us, it is important that we learn to quickly but reflectively respond to this change.
- The NZC ‘s key competencies develop the capabilities needed to adapt to our environment.
- Releasing control is tricky because we generally like a path, and we are often hidebound by the limitations of prescribed school-wide plans, not to mention required assessments. If we are truly seeking ownership, then we must let some of this go.
- For me, the first step is Inquiry Learning. There may be an overall theme but the focus can be determined by the group or by individuals. Is this true agency? No, in truth it is student-directed rather than student-determined. Student voice is something I am working hard to use earlier in the learning process.
- Steve Mouldey says, “I don’t see students as just being flexible to adapt to whatever happens in the future – I want them to create the future they want to have. And I don’t mean creating it in the future, they are capable of it now.” https://stevemouldey.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/agency-and-ownership/
Tino Rangitiratanga- self determined learning-control over our own pathways- helps us, wherever we are on the journey, to feel confident as we create that future.
Education Review Office (2012).The three most pressing issues for New Zealand’s education system, revealed in latest ERO report – Education Review Office. Retrieved from http://www.ero.govt.nz/About-Us/News-Media-Release…
Gracewood,J. (2015, March 12). What’s Wrong with National Standards? Metro. Retrieved 21 October from http://www.metromag.co.nz/metro-archive/whats-wrong-national-standards/
Herie, M. (2014, January 5 ). Paragogy and Heutagogy. Retrieved from http://educateria.com/2014/01/05/paragogy-and-heutagogy/
Ministry of Education (2007) The New Zealand Curriculum online: Vision. Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum/Vision
Thrupp, M. & White, M. (2013). Research, Analysis and Insight into National Standards (RAINS) Project Final Report: National Standards and the Damage Done. Waikato, New Zealand: Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research. Retrieved fromhttp://www.waikato.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/179407/RAINS-Final-report_2013-11-22.pdf
Wylie, C & Berg, M. (2013, November) National Standards: What difference are they making? Paper presented at the NZARE Annual Conference, Dunedin,New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.nzpf.ac.nz/sites/default/files/National%20Standards-What_difference_are_they_making.pdf