There is a report in today's Nelson Mail about the MOE consultation meeting on the national standards held in Nelson yesterday and it gives space to several principals and teachers to express their universal dislike of the standards.
Boy, these pedagogues need better sound-bites if Joe Public is going to understand the issues. Don Mclean's "measuring kids doesn't make them taller" is the best but really it still misses the point.
The point is that kids come in a variety of sizes and having a standard "height" for 6-year-olds is absurd. Someone will always come up short - not meet the standard. There will always be a distribution of height, weight - or achievement. Go find your Plunket book. If you set a standard "height", all those short kids get hurt and resentful, and their parents fret, when it's just normal for some people to be shorter (or just grow slower).
The thing we might agree on is that New Zealand has a long tail of underachievers. Will national standards shorten this tail? I don't think so. The factors that contribute to under achievement are complex and varied. If it was just good teaching that produced high achievement then good teachers and good schools wouldn't have a range of achievement - everyone would be high achievers. I know this is not true. Good teachers and good schools still have a range of achievement, even when other factors that influence achievement are weeded out (poverty, parents' education level, etc).
Politicians seeking simple answers to complex problems will always be a problem. National standards for politicians - now there's an idea...