Showing posts with label IOTY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IOTY. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Achievements and the IOTY

2014 was a difficult year in that it lacked the proactive measures that we have achieved in previous years.  Loss of a valued staff member and the care and ultimate passing of a loved one resulted in reduced capacity to implement measures that were in the pipeline.

We did achieve a few things though:

- research is done for organising teaching observations in 2015.
- the 6th summer school has been organised and is over subscribed again with 48 students.
- Mathematics Academy classes have run for the 7th year.
- new staff are integrating well and capacity is growing in Math/Science.
- the Fogerty leadership programme helped develop stronger planning measures for the school.
- we're looking at a number of fun behaviour management schemes.
- transition went well and numbers are looking good.
- implementation of the new behaviour management policy.
- implementation of the formal streaming process.
- implementation of the ICT plan and rollout of 200 units of ICT across the school.
- made connections with like minded schools to ensure issues faced with small groups are diminished in 2015.
- plans have been presented to further enhance the mathematics programme through an engineering and public speaking focus in 2015.
- Australian curriculum implementation is progressing well.

The IOTY award for 2014 goes jointly to the teachers union, our beloved premier and the media for repeatedly reporting that we were on the list for closure or amalgamation during year 7 and 8 enrollment times.  A close second goes to the commonwealth for mandating inflexible A-E grading when it is not appropriate for schools with significant delays such as commonly found in low socio-economic schools.

Friday, November 9, 2012

IOTY Award

Each year an IOTY is given to someone that has done something rather silly in education.  This year there were a few candidates.  My personal favourite is the one most recent.

Currently (as reported in the West) education (teaching) staff are being declined travel requests.  The interesting thing is that (on my reading) the travel requests as reported in the West are only related to airline travel.

Not so!

Recent requests for support from head office have been declined because support staff are not allowed to use government vehicles to come to schools.  This means that critical support required to examine statistical data and perform professional development within schools prior to the 2013 year is being denied for a few dollars of petrol.  These supports onsite are important as they bring together school staff with neutral advisors that can drive critical change and provide confidence to make courageous decisions.

To the person that decided that this is a good idea and changed a good idea (reducing travel where benefits cannot be clearly justified) to a poor idea (trying to save a few dollars and in so doing reducing the effectiveness of teaching programs) deserves the IOTY for 2013.

To the mystery person poorly implementing a good idea... the IOTY goes to you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

IOTY 2010 Winner

And the Idiot of the Year 2010 goes to our perennial winner

... (drum roll please) ...

.... Julia Gillard .....

...for her ongoing support of the myschool website, the diabolical national curriculum rollout, computers in schools schemes and her support for the complete an utter waste of money during the GFC on school rebuilding.

Oh, and please do us a favour Julia, get out of the way and let Ms Bligh do her job... although they might need you around soon with your unending bag of cash.

Congratulations Julia!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

IOTY nomination 2010

The first IOTY nomination for 2010 is Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia and general all around idiot.

First we had to put up with Rate-my-teacher, a website prone to defamatory comments. At least with rate-my-teacher a comment could be challenged and removed.

Now our good-time-guy, hop on the 9 million hits bandwagon Prime Minister, has proposed to add parent comments to the myschool website.

There are so many issues with this idea it is laughable. Anyone that has run a public company and knows the issues around "running stocks" would identify the main problems with this idea.

a) the person running the myschool website would have to ensure that it is a parent making the comment, not a disgruntled student (authentication).
b) if it is a parent, there are a lot of parents with rose coloured glasses and interesting opinions of their little darlings that do not relate to their actual behaviour in class (authenticity).
c) a skew of opinions tend to occur, as happy parents rarely put their statements online (bias).
d) ensuring that malicious and slanderous comments are removed without damage to the reputation of teacher or school is a full time job (for just one school), it would be near impossible for 10,000 (legal liability and overhead).

These issues alone are enough to make this idea stupid. Another government idea taking pot shots at a system nearly destroyed by government curriculum policy. The resilience the system has shown in trying to compete with independent schools has been astounding to watch. It would be nice to get a break from those putting the boot in now and again.

If this is the government's way to take the mind of voters away from rising interest rates and climate policy issues, it is a poorly crafted stunt.

Kevin, you are the first IOTY nomination of 2010.

Link to media statement here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And the 2009 IOTY winner is...

Julia Gillard, Federal minister for education.

Julia is awarded the Idiot Of The Year 2009 for her potential to damage confidence in public schooling, her flip flop on league tables and her continued faith in the face of all evidence and public opinion that NAPLAN information should be made public.

Today her media release finally acknowledged that it was likely that the myschool website and NAPLAN data would be used for league tables.

"I’m not a newspaper editor but I’m a reader of our media and a watcher of our media and what I know is that in the past, media outlets have sometimes decided to do a big story on an individual school and call it a bad school. That’s happened already; it’s happened five years ago, ten years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago. If an editor makes decisions to do that, that’s nothing to do with the My School website. " - Julia Gillard

Sorry Julia, if you provide the ammunition for producing misleading information, it is your fault. Media is renowned for producing sensationalist data and you are well aware of it - the potential for damaging schools rebuilding their reputations after poor government curriculum policy over many years far outweighs perceived benefits. State schools will close, pressure on parents to put students in independent schools will rise (for no academic benefit putting further stress on financially struggling families) and it will be the fault of your policy when the majority of people are saying this was a stupid idea.

"This has been worked on by experts and experts have looked at the Australian Bureau of Statistics information that’s relevant to that school and relevant to educational achievement. And through looking at that information, they’ve created an index and it’s the first time we’ve had an index than enables us to compare schools right around the country. " - Julia Gillard

A school's level of disadvantage is notorious to define (see the issues that occurred using bureau statistics for the ghetto allowances in WA). More-so the ability of a school to produce true generational change takes generations to measure. Where gentrification in an area is occurring, four years of lag will exist between when the census occurs and when SEI is measured. Furthermore it will take 13+ years for these students to start entering the system (although it is more likely the struggling school will be closed and sold) and it's likely the new students won't have a nearby public school to go to anyway. With data at least four years old, principals have changed, teachers moved on, the school is different to the index. This statement is one big furphy.

"Now we’ve got to be clear about this: being from a poor household doesn’t mean that you are somehow destined to go badly at school. Kids from the most disadvantaged circumstances can get great educational results but we do need to give them an extra helping hand to get there and that’s why this index is so valuable." - Julia Gillard

Ok, myschool statistics could identify some schools that need more help for disadvantaged students but why does this information need to be public (unless the idea is to use student results for political gain)? Why stigmatise students, teachers and schools? I have no argument that NAPLAN results could be used to help identify struggling schools, but why compromise the results by discouraging good students from entering the school whilst positive change is occurring and extra funding is available. Julia, you are creating a self defeating system.

Yet, has anyone considered that low SES students test poorly anyway and their actual understanding is usually higher than their scores. This is due to the averaged nature of NAPLAN scores. Many things effect the scores. Students "throw" the test as they do not value the results, have performance anxiety generally passed on by poor performing parents. In general, a lower weighting of importance is put on tests by schools due to a whole range of factors. Furthermore, test results are skewed by teachers wasting whole terms coaching students on how to answer NAPLAN questions. Topics are introduced out of sequence (to the detriment of students) to maximise NAPLAN results. The NAPLAN scores (if they are meant to identify low performing schools and help low performing students) are a poor measure of their actual performance!

Even when schools become earmarked for change, in many cases it simply will not occur no matter how much money is thrown at the school (and subsequent stress placed on teachers to perform miracles) due to dietary issues, birth defects, difficult circumstance, limited positive adult (especially male) role models, limited parental support, refugee cohorts, additional needs students, behavioural issues, alcohol and drug abuse, gang involvement, criminal behaviour, difficulties in identifying, attracting and retaining good teachers/administration, financial issues at home, generational endemic poor attendance, domestic violence and other such issues that cannot be changed by a school alone. A bigger picture approach must be taken in many cases.

Issues with current league tables (measuring student scores rather than career success, issued by The West newspaper in WA) is further proof that the myschool website is built on a flawed premise. A school can have near 100% of their aspirant university students achieve their dream (being the first in their family history to attend university) yet still be last on their league tables due to the cutoffs assigned to presenting scores (see current issues with 75+ TER recording in WA).

If the Liberal party said they would dump league tables, I would urge teachers to vote for them and I'm guessing so would many others. It would be a foolish Labor party that ignores this sentiment. WA was lost due to the teacher vote. Teaching voter backlash is not something to be ignored.

When public opinion becomes a tool for government intervention (and not the other way around) it indicates a government unable to control. Releasing NAPLAN information to stir public support for government intervention rather than just identifying issues and solving them, speaks of a government more interested in polls than doing good in the community.

Julia, if you fail to see the issues with this idea or are only going through with it for political reasons - you have to be an idiot.

You are a worthy winner of the IOTY for 2009. There was no competition.

Media release here.

Julia taking another potshot at teachers here (have a giggle at the stretched neck photo of Julia).
Myschool website here (but don't say I didn't warn you!)

Monday, November 30, 2009

IOTY candidate Peter Hill

Hot on the heels of the last effort to cause prejudice against indigenous students by Julia Gillard, another well meaning idiot tries to load up the curriculum with ill advised nonsense.

Peter Hill suggests that we embed indigenous perspectives into all learning areas and force the indigenous agenda displacing topics with natural and seemless fits. When will these idealists realise that kids can spot an agenda a mile away? Ideas like this cause resentment against indigenous students in the classroom.

If we were talking about increasing indigenous content in History, Geography and English, I could imagine a number of synergistic fits.... but in Maths and science the fit typically is artificial and forced. Can you imagine exploring the chemical composition of the witchetty grub or exploring the physics of the boomerang? How about the mathematics of the dreamtime or health studies on indigenous foods?

Forced topics make poor topics.

In a time where we are trying to free the curriculum of modern agenda's and focus on basic performance, ideas like this should be left behind.

Peter Hill you have earned yourself an Idiot of the Year nomination.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Interference in Teaching

University 4 year degree, WACOT, WWC, Federal police clearance, Curriculum Council and NCOS, National curriculum, ACARA & league tables, Scope and Sequence documents, moderation, compulsory PD, A-E exemplars, Independent schools, union politics,  DET's squillion policies on everything and now a national teacher standards body (Gees thanks Julia!).

Can we possibly put more bureaucracy and BS between teachers and students?

Yes we can!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ms Gillard you are a dill!

Here's a link to the latest nonsense by Ms Gillard.

"It's not about raw scores," Ms Gillard said.
"We want to compare like schools - schools serving similar populations, so we can tell what difference the teaching is making."
"If you see one school going streaks ahead, that means there is great practice there we should be sharing.
"And if you see one school that is falling way behind, that means we should be doing something about that school because it is under performing and it can do better."

Ms Gillard - teaching is not the only factor in performance. Shall we also grade community support, funding, parent capability, parent education, family income, proportion of single parents, strong administrative leadership and support, an interactive P&C, effective behaviour management policy. It is not just teaching that makes a school good and these factors cannot be graded in simplistic socio-economic indicators.

So.. do we just teach to the test to gain good results and forget about whole student needs? If a student is not academic, do we give them the weakest teachers and reserve our finest teachers for those that bring academic results? Do we pander to teachers that only will stay if they get certain classes? Will the tables measure actual progress or focus on academic performance (if they do measure progress will they use NAPLAN/WALNA and ignore the basic timing issues that occur in low socio-economic schools?).

So I ask again.. what purpose does this have in being released to the public? To remind parents that the school they are sending their child to is not as good as the elite schools in the Western suburbs or the G&T schools in the state school system?

If we are only looking for improvement - release league tables to staffing and strategic planning. After all it is these two parts of DET that need the information. By releasing this information to parents you are seriously hindering reform in troubled schools. The students that the school needs most to benefit from reform just won't come.

If you want to release this information - do so when schools are well funded and outperforming private schools. To do it now after years of underfunding in the system and poor curriculum support is inappropriate. Unless of course the agenda is to close schools and sell assets. After all education is the single biggest burden on government (and the single biggest eliminator of class difference as we are all entitled to a good education).

It is just another teacher bashing that is on the way, with primitive statistical analysis used to try and correct schools in political time frames inappropriate to education.

I heard a suggestion that we should create league tables for politicians.. Promises vs actual over the past 10 years. Set up league tables for local pollies on how often they are seen and how many members of the public they have spoken to outside of polling times. Identify how many times they have spoken in parliament and made a contribution to government (as opposed to oppositional backbiting). How many times they have been seen doing stupid things in public. Then we could re-release this information at polling time.

Education has no place in politics and league tables are just nonsense, aimed to appeal to naive voters. I'd like to meet a person in education that thinks league tables are a good idea.

Only the best possible education for all our children is what matters. The rich should not be the only ones with access to the finest education. Education is the most valuable privilege in Australia and it is our way to ensure that all in Australia feel Australian and have an opportunity to succeed, regardless of race, religion, sex or any other demographic you care to mention.

.. and that's the way it should stay.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another IOTY candidate

The next nomination for idiot of the year goes to Barry McGaw chairman of the National Curriculum Board for his statement "the new standards will clearly show what skills and knowledge a student should aim for at each year level, making it easier for teachers to identify student progress and to help them."

A co-nomination goes to Caroline Milburn author of the article in The Age that says "Teachers will no longer be the sole judge of a student's work, after a landmark decision by the National Curriculum Board to introduce year-by-year achievement standards for pupils. For the first time, all teachers in Australian schools will have to use the same achievement benchmarks to measure student progress."

We know from MCJ in WA and how league tables are used that standards do not make it any easier to identify student progress as variables that define student learning are (in general) too various to adequately define. The only thing that standardised testing has done has reduced many good schools to "teaching to the test". No test has a better idea of student progress than a good teacher.

Caroline Milburn you are just publishing sensationalist tripe, if history repeats itself, we will just be given a load of generalist edubabble descriptions and unusable work samples that produce unscientific and statistically unsound assessment. Not to mention that standardising results across Australia has minimal use or effect other than for systemic discussion (which has no place in the hands of the public - see below).

My rant earlier today on this topic on the Education Matters forum went like this..

"I thought that we had learned from the smartie chart fiasco [in WA] that standardising grades is an exceptionally stupid idea.

Student A is trying their hardest but has little support at home. They are in a low socio-economic school, have peers in similar situations and have no chance to compete with students from leafy green schools. So each year, teacher has to give them a 'D' or somehow find them a scholarship, remove them from their social peers and hope that they can handle the social stigma attached to being in a higher SEI school.

The student without a scholarship gets sick of receiving D's (despite their attempts at catching up and working really hard). This is the same student that given a higher grade would have caught up and done really well in senior school, be a TEE candidate and contribute to urban renewal in low socio-economic areas (this kid was me - which is why I am so passionate about the idiocy of standardisation in this manner).

It also works the other way around. Student B does bugger all in school, but achieves an A because they have reached the benchmark. Without the motivation to push themselves further they don't learn a good work ethic.. Two years later they fail senior school as they hit their ability curve and have no drive to fall back on. It is just such a b*llsh*t idea.

School is about excellence and doing your best - not about standardisation and "fairness" in grading. Anyone with half a brain can see the flaws in it. TEE examinations provide the cross school moderation and that is where it should stay. I fear though that the drive for standardisation comes from government fear of litigation and the need to defer risk to schools where legislation and procedure provide some protection."

and then again later..

"Standardisation creates the same issues under a different guise. It potentially dictates that I teach material that is clearly beyond the student capabilities. I have no problem with suggested standards nor syllabus (syllabii?) but I do have an issue where I lack the ability to modify it where required. To demand that I teach algebra in term 1 year 7 when my kids can't do simple operations means that I would waste two terms teaching inappropriate material. To have to fill out twenty pages of documents to justify the delay (I know I'm projecting here but I have some understanding of how bureaucracies work) would do my head in.

Whilst we are on the topic of standardisation, to give these same students a standardisation test that tells them they are below benchmark (translate that to dumb in kidspeak) and destroy fragile confidence because the test is effectively two terms early is also wrong. I'm not sure of the purpose of these tests other than to satisfy curiosity of head office and parents. If they were internal tools that we could use to gauge performance and modify curricula to suit I would support them - but as yet all I have seen is judgements made about students, niggling comments about teachers, and misapplication of developmental/environmental causes rather than teaching or intelligence based assessment.

Either we value the judgement of our teachers or we use standardised testing. To continue the devaluation of teacher judgement in lieu of creating a better system needs further analysis as I don't think we are doing the education system any favours by pursuing a course of teaching to tests and the associated pressure of high stakes testing on children. "

Now I feel better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Idiot of the year award (IOTY)

Chris Sarra you are my idiot of the year. You are a candidate for idiot of the century.

Calling those unfortunate souls that get country postings "White Trash" for their efforts in bringing education to the outback is nearly as bad as the Australian publishing this sensationalist tripe.

The article is here.

It takes a special sort of person to go to the outback and teach. Even in hard to teach metropolitan schools it can be difficult. At my school there are at least two people that put their careers aside to teach students like we were, and hopefully we make a difference.

I would suggest that if Chris Sarra feels so strongly about how indigenous students are being poorly treated he should get out there and encourage aboriginal students to become teachers in the outback.

"If I'm an incompetent principal of an Aboriginal school, lacking in courage to challenge parents about why their children are not attending school, it doesn't matter. Aborigines get the blame."

Teachers and schools cannot control whether students come to school. They can encourage students, work with elders in the community and implement government programs. If Chris is seeking to alienate all of us trying our best to help these kids, involved with tutoring and mentoring, policing and medical services, he has succeeded. If Chris thinks making schools into community policemen, reporting who should and shouldn't get welfare, I would suggest that he is attributing the wrong role to the wrong organisation. To do this would increasingly make schools a negative influence in family life rather than an enabling one. The whole ethos of schools is to advise and empower parents and students, not enforce community will onto the unwilling.

"They should tell the parents, 'If this goes on, I can refer you to the authorities because you're in breach of the Education Act. "

Chris clearly has a strange view on the ability of truant officers and community police. My understanding of what the authorities are empowered to do is check that students are OK and encourage parents to return students to school.

If a community does not value education and resists attempts to engage with education, they will become second class citizens - some elders understand this and drive their communities - schools can help but cannot be the driver.

"Dr Sarra says his success was due to challenging students to be strong, smart and act like 'Aborigines' instead of delinquents."

I feel for Chris in some little way as he has been successful in one community, I think his mistake is attributing his success to schooling rather than his ability to act as a community leader - by my reading of the article it was by encouraging students to be aboriginal and proud. It would be great to see this tempered with Australian and proud too. Connection with the community needs to become an increasing goal - with both sides reaching out to make our nation proud.