Breaking news and adjustment to earlier posting
By Kelvin Smythe
Breaking news and adjustment to earlier posting (see
Before the end of May, the ministry is putting up on
Education Counts the aggregated national standards data. That is children above, at, and below on a
national basis. It is these results that will have the government crowing about the lift in reading
and writing. This lift as we know will largely come from the average 15% inflation I estimate has
occurred in writing e-asTTle and average 10% in STAR. My ministry informant tells me the
government is rushing the data out to get in ahead of questions being raised about the test
inflation. NZCER is denying any inflation but that is rubbish – it’s looking after its skin.
My informant says schools’ data will follow soon after the
Now for an adjustment re the posting that was sent out
last week, and is repeated below:
The ministry e-asTTle
people have now accepted that there has been significant inflation in e-asTTle.
This is what has happened:
- 80 schools were chosen as a sample to test for
- It was found it to be significant
- The mean score for
e-asTTle was dropped nationally as a result
- Adjustments were then made to the results from all
schools who have submitted results this year
- Some children have been dropped by two
- This was done in head office
- This was done without consulting
- Schools only found out when they found their results had been
- Important testing principles have been compromised here.
Because there is no national standards moderation generally, and because
schools think national standards are a joke, a bad joke – there will be inflation from that
circumstance as well.
The important thing immediately, though, is
that what has happened is an admission of the inflation for all e-sTTle results for 2012; results
that have been fed into the national standards results soon to be posted.
It makes a mockery of the government’s claim for quality
Please our leaders: do something.
The e-asTTle morass has
descended to its ultimate entanglement
A letter has been sent from the ministry to e-asTTle schools telling them
to downgrade the e-asTTle first-term results. I have in front of me a letter which states that some
students have dropped two levels.
The e-asTTle response I have learnt
from another source came as a result of the ministry receiving claims from about 80 schools about
the e-asTTle inflationary results. However, and this is what makes it the ultimate entanglement,
other schools carrying out the re-grading, have found that children have dropped significantly below
their obvious level. Can you see the problem? it’s a problem inherent in the use of rubrics. As
well, e-asTTle is a seriously flawed instrument; there was no chance it could deliver the evaluation
goodies it promised (well, very few of them).
judgement is that both sets of schools are ‘right’. You can honestly get both sets of results. It’s
a wild west of evaluation. It’s a loser’s way of evaluation. It’s a betrayal of our holistic and
developmental philosophy. It is an insoluble mess but – and this is highly significant – it is an
insoluble mess that has huge ramifications for the results sitting in ministry offices waiting to be
processed for the 2012 national standards.
And further, it has huge
ramifications for PaCT on which the revised e-asTTle is modelled.
This website broke the news about the e-asTTle inflation nationally in
2012; I got in touch with just below the top people in NZEI and NZPF; I begged these people to talk
to their top people to take over the issue, stressing the inflationary impact on national standards
results, and how this could be used for government propaganda supporting national standards while,
on the other hand, if the teacher organisations handled it well, making clear the dodgy nature
national standards data, then the credibility of national standards could be seriously
And it could also sink PaCT.
It was an opportunity that hovered in an education limbo between
assessment hell and holistic heaven.
Can you believe it?
yesterday’s posting, ‘The prime minister despises us' when I wrote, ‘I tear my hair: a mistake of
galactic proportions’ (given there’s not so much there).
the teacher organisations waiting for? Waiting I think for brave schools, principals, and teachers
to provide leadership in the vacuum so unkindly provided.
go to principals for information, principals they can rely on: I have my set, do they have
Has it struck the teacher organisations why I am so often the
first port of call for distressed teachers and emerging issues?
and I believe; I understand and quickly. And I respond immediately and hard, the teachers
of New Zealand and its children demand nothing
A few weeks ago, with illness in the family, my commitment to
the website wavered. However, I decided to continue, but the promise to myself was that I wouldn’t
hold back: too late in the day for that.
So here I am angrier, more
frustrated, and depending on your point-of-view, more dangerous than ever.
Before I continue, I want to make clear that the leadership of the revised
e-asTTle has behaved honourably throughout the inexorable deepening of the e-asTTle mess. It has not
sought to prevaricate, hide, or deceive. This is in contrast with NZCER, New Zealand’s self-declared only independent research entity, with
its falling STAR. Indeed, a posting on NZCER, and would you believe that icon of New Zealand
education, Warwick Elley was to be next in line. My warning question to NZCER: do you take teachers
I now pass the issue, for the second time, to the
teacher organisations and to Tracey, Chris, and Catherine.
going to be first to put out a hard hitting media release, and of the politicians, to ask a question
in the House? And the key focus should be, and I hold my breath for its asking: A calling off of
national standards 2012 results for writing (also reading re STAR but more of that in a later
A little background: The revised e-asTTle story broke on this
website latish last year. There was a brief flurry from a contracted e-asTTle person to cover up,
but the ministry leadership was having none of it. The leadership was genuinely surprised. They
moved quickly to make available courses (which schools I believe, and wondrously, had to pay for).
The correction provided was utterly comical but if you took a very hard line on its application, it
could work. It is not, however, rigorous or able to stand up to widespread use in a national
standards context. It’s a no-goer.
An important point is that the correction for good or
no account came too late for the 2012 national standards results. The minister will make much of OTJ
and trusting teachers and triangulation and other fluff, but she has also made much in the past of
standardised tests, especially e-asTTle. It is mentioned, for instance, in that national standards
legislation. E-asTTle is the only writing standardised test, and given its widespread use, the gross
inflationary nature of the results must have had a significant effect on national
Well, that’s it for me – I have to take the grandchildren to
the revised Jurassic Park 3-D. I hope this time things really take off
regarding the shambles that is the revised e-asTTle 5-E. The children and teachers
of New Zealand would then get the
leadership and protection they deserve.