Monday, September 24, 2012

Garbage in, Garbage out

Fairfax have assured us they didn't publish the primary schools national standards data as a "business decision" based on the likelihood of hordes of parents using Fairfax media to look up their local schools.  Missing from the explanation was an explanation of why they did do it, if not for "business purposes."  Draw your own conclusion.

Still, the damage has been done.  Why it's a bad idea to let people who know nothing about statistics set about drawing conclusions from bad data is being well covered by the Dim Post: this one explains what the data actually shows, and this one explains a basic failure by the HoS in concluding increased class sizes improve pupil's learning.

My personal favourite was the SST's panic-mongering about the difference in reading and writing ability between boys and girls at primary school.  This isn't news to anyone familiar with the field, but now we can put meaningless numbers on it based on bad data, and the "something must be done" squawking has started.

Well, maybe it is a problem, but who'd know?  Boys and girls differ in their pace of development - what counts isn't whether there's a performance difference between boys and girls at primary school, it's whether there's still a gap when they leave school.  There doesn't seem to be a significant gap at that point if you judge by the kids starting their first year at university - maybe there is one if you take the cohort as a whole, but I haven't seen any research on it reported in the papers.  Could be this is the first of many bad-data-generated crises.

14 comments:

Noel said...

Listening to the Minister this morning it appears there has been a shift in the political spin from parents been able to have a better measure of their child's individual education to been able to measure the performance of the whole school.

Reminded me of my second son.
I went to the teachers and principal and told them in my view he was not understanding the concepts they were teaching. They trotted out the then measures and said look he is ok here, ok there you should have no concern .
I said I have evaulated him against his older brother who had been through the same school and I am telling you he is not grasping it.

It was two years after that when I was able to convince them to bring in the professional evaluators and it was determined he had a severe learning difficulty.

The current National Standards don't appear to address that situation either.

The Veteran said...

Interesting comment Noel. I have two grandchildren in the Wairarapa, one attending a state integrated school and the other a state primary school.

Their two reports are like chalk and cheese. The former full of meaningful data charting exactly how our granddaughter is performing both in relation to her class and NZL wide. The latter a much more general assessment full of warmm fuzzies.

I know which one I prefer.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

The teachers' unions will be beside themselves!

My God! Better performance from smaller classes? You mean they'll need LESS TEACHERS? You mean Hekia Parata was right ALL ALONG?

No wonder the bastards don't want national standards.

PS It seems Gerry Brownlee didn't do PR 101 at his school. He needs his arse kicked. Goodness knows, it's a substantial enough target Mr Key should not miss.

Remember mining a miniscule portion of the DOC estate?

Noel said...

Veteran
You miss my point.
Reading, writing and maths were in the old measures He scored OK on them all leading to a belief that he had no problems.

Ciaron said...

I was under the impression that NS was a tool for identifying problems, not solving them?

Judge Holden said...

"You mean they'll need LESS (sic) TEACHERS? "

That's fewer teachers, you retard. You should have paid attention in English class. And the answer to your question is no.

Stopped posting on US politics too, Adolf. Come on, I was enjoying watching you get pwned.

Paulus said...

Anything the SST does is to put pressure on the Key Government so it continues its "Ambrose" moment to denigrate the Government and particularly Parata, who has become an easy target, not probably helped by her Department which is full of left orientated ex teacher women.

Judge Holden said...

Women!!!? In the public service? Why that's an outrage, Paulus! Who next, BLACKS?! You guys are great, seriously.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Poor Sludge.

Too thick to recognise when his pet modern day dumbarse poorly educated unionist teachers are having the piss taken.

Mr Romney is doing just fine. How many diplomats has your Black Arse killed today?

Judge Holden said...

Poor Adolt. Smears and lies are what you've been reduced to. You've been broken, son. Time for a break eh?

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Struck a nerve.

The only smears and lies on this issue have come from the White House.

Judge Holden said...

Smears and lies from the White House on national standards? Chief, you're so lost it's almost ceased to be amusing and become a wee bit sad. Perhaps you should see doctor?

Psycho Milt said...

My God! Better performance from smaller classes? You mean they'll need LESS TEACHERS? You mean Hekia Parata was right ALL ALONG?

If you have a look at that second Dim Post piece, it gives you a fine example of why leaping to wishful-thinking conclusions like the above is most certainly a Bad Idea.

There's also this comment on another thread there that is pure gold: "Do bigger classes cause better results, or is it the other way around? Why do people always make this mistake? It’s not like it’s hard to identify a clear causality between schools identifying weak students and schools attempting to give them more help. They’re actually supposed to do that. It is good to see it in the data, though. If it were the other way around, that individual tuition was being given to the gifted students, and those struggling were lumped into giant lectures to switch off and fail, then we’d have very poor average results."

Noel said...

In the latest from the Minister is the claim that National Standards could also be used for teacher assessment.

From the Ministry website on the Standards.
"To work out where each child is at in reading, writing and maths in relation to the National Standards, teachers will make an overall teacher judgement using a range of assessments, including:
•what they have seen in the classroom
•talking about learning with children
•children’s assessment of their own and each others’ work
•results from formal tests."

OTJ is a primary tool for the Standards.

Oh.....so they can manufacture their own KPI's? He he!