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School Principals Promote Class-Divided Society

School Principals Promote Class-Divided Society

School principals trying to stop people using NCEA results to compare schools will recreate the `where did you go to school' kind of class divisions so many people came here to escape, ACT New Zealand Associate Education Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"They will get the opposite of what they want, because they are not respecting the parents' need to judge them and their schools. If parents don't have objective measures, like exam results, they will fall back on whatever measures they can get. Some, such as numbers of computers, don't tell much about the quality of teaching and leadership. Nor may the wealth of the suburb. But if that is the only obvious measure, it will be used," Mr Franks said.

"The objectivity of externally-assessed exams has been the tool for breaking down `old school tie' hiring preferences, and allowed outstanding schools in poor areas to face down uninformed prejudice. These principals would rather see that go, than provide the extra information that would allow comparisons to be fair.

"Stop patronising parents, and stop trying to hide failure. If parents need more data to make proper comparisons, give it to us. NZQA could give us decile-adjusted rankings. Parents know there is much more to school quality than just exam results, but they will not trust waffle from professionals who think comparisons are taboo.

"If only we had an education minister and a qualifications authority with some of Tony Blair's honesty. Over the top of teacher union outrage, the British Labour Government has insisted on publishing `league tables' so parents can help press for better schools," Mr Franks said.

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