Opinion from Dr Graham Stoop for a NZ Herald Series on National Standards

“National Standards are a useful record of where a child is at a point in time. They don’t improve achievement per se, but rather show us where best to target resources and help teachers understand where they need to apply focus.

National Standards haven’t failed. We’ll see improvement over time. Right now though, we need to change the discussion from what the level of achievement is, to how to accelerate progress for all learners.

It’s a complex story. We must be careful not to draw any major conclusions about progress until we know we have a consistent approach to applying the standards. Currently we can see some gains for some groups inside some schools, but not across all schools.

But the teaching profession reports the most valuable aspect of National Standards for them is the learning and sharing that comes with teachers collaborating on what works for their learners. For instance, many teachers report they are sharing best practice examples more. Many teachers also tell us they are more attentive to each student’s rate of progress because they can see it more clearly. They are adapting their teaching to meet the needs of the student.

National Standards could have been more successful if there had been more collaboration and support for teachers, in their development and implementation phase. This includes ongoing support for building understanding of the standards, data analysis and moderation. This understanding has been slower than if there had been more investment in time and professional support.”

“Measurement is important because it provides data. It provides evidence of where resources need to be targeted. That said, we do need a more systemic approach to sharing evidence of what’s working. We need to build strong educational leadership across the system rather than just in one school. We expect Communities of Learning will play an important role. They encourage connection and collaboration across schools and between other education professionals like researchers, academics and other professional learning and development experts. They will help build capacity across the system.

The Teacher Led Innovation Fund is a good example of sharing and collaboration. Teachers apply to fund projects that can demonstrate innovative practice. The fund is designed to encourage collaboration with other teachers and experts, and the sharing of best practice.

Last year the Education Council announced its intention to establish a Centre for Leadership Excellence. This will help develop leadership in communities of learning with the goal of growing and building leadership capability. “

“We have a comprehensive work programme to lift the status of teaching and build the profession for the future. Alongside establishing the Centre for Leadership Excellence we are also working closely with the Ministry of Education, and our profession, to design a professional learning and development model. We need to make sure our profession is equipped and capable of meeting the changing demands of the future.

We’re also working on strengthening initial teacher education (teacher training), bringing consistency to professional standards, having appraisal processes for teachers that are relevant for teaching in the modern world, and updating a 13-year old code of ethics. This will emphasise professional responsibility and will be aspirational and something teachers will be proud to call their own. The Council is working in close collaboration with the education sector on these projects. “

The nature of teaching has changed. Being an educator is more complex than it has been understood to be in the past.  We need to fundamentally redesign how we recruit, select and educate the profession as we prepare for the future of learning.  We need to reconceive how we support the ongoing development of the teaching profession as it responds to the demands of a rapidly changing world.”

 

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