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Bill English National Education - 19 July 2006

Bill English National Education - 19 July 2006

Lois Dear's death is shocking because it violates the school as a place where children and adults are safe and respected. Whoever did it, for whatever reason, must have know that killing a person in a place for children doubles the horror.

This death is an extreme example of the extent to which social dysfunction is intruding into schools and learning. I have nothing but admiration for the principal and staff of Strathmore Primary School who have to explain these events to children and move them on. May she rest in peace.

NCEA - It just won't go away Papers released to the Education Select Committee show that NZQA has not carried out basic psychometric analysis of its internal or external assessment. So it's no surprise to find out that 39 per cent of the assessments moderated by NZQA are found to be faulty.10 percent are totally flawed and 29 per cent need change. Moderation occurs well after students get their final marks, so they get the wrong marks. In Parliament, Steve Maharey Tried to make the problem look small by saying the 40 per cent error rate applied only to 3 per cent of assessment.

That 3 per cent is theoretically a sample of assessments on the borderline. But NZQA have no idea whether or not teachers are actually sending in borderline cases, and have no way of checking, except for a three-yearly visit to the school. And 40 per cent is far too big an error rate. He left the impression that 97 per cent of assessments are fine.

NCEA - Solutions

Terry Crooks and John Hatttie wrote papers for the Scholarship review, with constructive suggestions for the way forward. Hattie's paper makes it plain that NZQA hasn't used contemporary psychometric tools to underpin the reliability and validity of assessment. He makes the point repeatedly that the issues we are debating now have been covered all over the world and that there is a voluminous relevant literature.

NZQA should use the accepted psychometric tool kit on NCEA. Maharey conceded some ground in Parliament when he said that some of the analysis done for Scholarship would be applied to NCEA.

Unfortunately, the papers show that the government adopted the one solution Hattie said emphatically they should not - the 3 percent success rate in Scholarship internationally. And Terry Crooks proposed benchmarking schools' internal assessment against internal results and having a closer look at any school out of line.

Will it happen? No.

The School Leaders Group appears to have no intellectual nor will to cut through the fog of consensus between the PPTA, the Minister of Education, NZQA and principals' groups. Bali Haque, who has been a high profile political defender of the perfection of NCEA is now NZQA's qualifications manager. It can be fixed. So NZQA will provide backup for Maharey' s stonewalling and spin-doctoring. Thousands of students will continue to get results that are wrong, invalid and unreliable.

ENDS

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