QPEC is dismayed at the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday that he is keen to see "league tables" for primary schools.
This is an unnecessary distraction from improving student achievement which should be the government's focus.
The government is still smarting from its backdown on increasing class sizes and is using this issue to try and drive a wedge between teachers and parents. Key thinks league tables will be popular with parents but opposed by teachers and schools.
QPEC has always opposed the use of crude data comparing schools. We have already seen the unsavoury practices in secondary schools through ranking schools according to NCEA pass rates. For example students may be denied entry to some courses or excluded from entering examinations. This has the effect of improving the pass rate but reducing opportunities for students - the opposite of what we should expect our schools to be doing.
It would be an awful to see such practices enter primary schools.
There are three main reasons QPEC believes league tables are bad policy.
Firstly league tables will only tell us what we already know, that kids in wealthy areas do better in school than kids in poor areas. League tables based on pure socio economic factors are virtually identical to those based on educational achievement.
Secondly, only some things can be measured, and these are not always what is valuable about education. You can't measure interest, engagement, passion, social skills and all the other things that go on in schools.
Thirdly, in countries which have league tables there is strong evidence that teachers are required to teach to the test. This may increase performance on individual indicators, but there is also evidence that what goes on in schools becomes narrower and less engaging, particularly for hard-to-teach children.
The Prime Minister wants to bring a crude, market-based business approach to schooling which is out of kilter with the collegial, collaborative approach to teaching and learning within our schools.
The solutions to improving educational achievement do not lie in naming and shaming schools in low-income communities, nor in celebrating high achievement in Remuera or Fendalton.
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