Tag Archives: New Zealand

Teacher collaboration and professional development around the world

Last month, at the American Educational Research Association Conference held in Chicago, I attended a presentation that offered multiple perspectives on the recent findings in the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) report. As the OECD explains, the TALIS report asks teachers and principals who they are, where they teach and how they feel about their work.

Linda Darling-Hammond focused on what the TALIS report can teach us about teachers in the United States. She explained that teachers in the U.S. have insufficient time for planning and collaboration during the school day, which means that they are often left to do this work alone at home. U.S. teachers report that they experience less helpful feedback (coming from principals more often than peers), and sporadic professional development. Yet, collaborative practices and self-efficacy were indicated as drivers of job satisfaction.

Andy Hargreaves argued that while collaboration can be important to job satisfaction, we need to develop a much deeper understanding of what effective collaboration looks like. He argued that we need to know more about why collaborative practices are not always embraced by teachers. As self-efficacy was also related to job satisfaction, Hargreaves suggested that we also think about collective efficacy—the belief that we have in what we can do together, not just alone. Further work needs to be done, he explained, to develop our understanding of when collaboration is useful, when it is simplistic, and when it takes the form of “contrived collegiality.”

With this attention to collaboration and professional development, I decided to conduct a scan of education news around the world to see what I could learn about how different countries are addressing the topic. This scan showed that countries are grappling with several issues, such as the quality, time, and funding for professional development.

In British Columbia, the government is proposing to create professional development standards. Education Minister Peter Fassbender views the establishment of such standards as an act that would put the teaching profession on par with other professions, such as the legal, accounting, or nursing professions. While teachers are currently required to attend professional development sessions, new legislation would determine what those session cover; however, Fassbender says there will be no increase in funding to support the new standards. Concerns have been raised about the privitization of professional development, and the lack of teacher input.

In Australia, ACT teachers have spent a year arguing that they need guaranteed time each week for professional development and collaboration. According to Union Secretary Glenn Fowler, “Teachers do not trust their employer to protect them from snow-balling workloads, and we say to the employer if there is no guaranteed and quarantined time made in the new agreement, we will never see it, and that time may continue to get stripped away from teachers.”

Meanwhile, teachers in Ireland oppose a plan for mandatory continuing professional development (CPD). While most Irish teachers place high value on CPD, a majority fear that “if compulsory, it would promote a ‘compliance mentality’ with minimal real engagement.”

New Zealand has established Communities of Schools as part of their Investing in Educational Success initiative. These schools will set their own achievement goals and will be funded to allow teachers the time to “work with and learn from each other, supported by new teaching and leadership roles.” While funding for these new positions is proving controversial, as one principal shared, “You have to change things. You can’t stay in your same structures, if you do you will end up with the same result: busy schools that are too busy to share.”

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), has noticed how busy teachers in Scotland are as well, and called for a period of “consolidataion and calm.” Flanagan said teachers needed breathing space after the delivery of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and new exams:”The last thing Scottish teachers need to hear at the moment is that the pace of change needs to be stepped up.” He called for additional resources and support for professional development.

Deirdre Faughey

OECD measures financial literacy of students around the world

The OECD released the results of an exam that aimed to assess the financial literacy of students in Australia, Belgium (Flemish Community), Shanghai-China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Israel, Italy, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain and the United States. As we have done with other OECD test results, we conducted a search of international news reports on the results of this exam by country. Note that aside from the deluge of results from US media sources, Australia and New Zealand were two countries that reported extensively on the results  – with the Australian headlines distinctly contradictory. In general, much of the reporting focused on the fact that the majority of teenagers in the world don’t know enough about financial issues. The OECD noted that, similar to results on other OECD tests, student performance tends to fall along class lines, with “more socio-economically advantaged students scor[ing] much higher than less-advantaged students on average across participating OECD countries and economies.”

We also spoke with Anand Marri, Vice president and Head of Economic Education at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Associate Professor at Teachers College Columbia University, about the results. He pointed out that the financial literacy of students likely reflects the financial literacy of teachers as well as other adults. Without a concerted effort to enable teachers to develop their financial literacy and to make financial literacy an explicit part of the curriculum, we should not expect many students to develop financial skills on their own. Yet in the United States, only 15 out of 50 states have graduation requirements related to personal literacy and the vast majority of social studies teachers have not taken more than one economics course. He also noted, as the OECD report pointed out, that financial literacy is highly correlated with performance in math and reading, but that it would be particularly interesting to know more about the teaching of financial literacy and the preparation of those who teach financial literacy in countries that score higher in financial literacy than their math and reading performance would predict (like Australia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, the Flemish Community of Belgium and New Zealand).

Australia 

Aus students lack financial literacy skills: OECD (www.ifa.com.au)

Disadvantaged youth have poor financial literacy – study (www.probonoaustralia.com.au)

Australian students get top marks for financial literacy (www.financialstandard.com.au)

Aussie teens show financial smarts (www.dailytelegraph.com.au)

Columbia

Columbian students last place Pisa financial literacy exam (www.colombiareports.co)

Central Eurpoe, Baltic countries:

Central European, Baltic Teens Score Well in OECD Financial Test (http://blogs.wsj.com)

Czech Republich

Czech teenagers rank sixth in international financial literacy survey (http://radio.cz/en)

Israel

Israeli teens get a failing grade for financial literacy (www.haaretz.com)

Italy

Italian teens can’t handle money: Report (www.thelocal.it)

Shanghai – China

Students in Shanghai score highest for financial literacy (Irish Times)  

Spain

Spanish 15-year-olds lack financial literacy proficiency (www.globalpost.com)

US

American Students score below average in financial literacy (www.forbes.com)

American teenagers outranked by Chinese in money smarts (www.cnn.com)

US Students fail to make the grade on financial literacy (www.time.com)

New Zealand  

Financial literacy depends on wealth (www.stuff.co.nz)

Pisa results shed the spotlight on financial literacy levels (http://www.scoop.co.nz)

Kiwi teens 5th best at managing money (www.3news.co.nz)

UK

Is the UK falling behind? OECD results underscore the importance of financial literacy for future growth (http://www.economicvoice.com)

 

New Zealand

Parata keen to avoid another fight with teachers
Young, A.  New Zealand Herald (20 June 2012)

While Minister of Education Hekia Parata is keen to avoid another fight with teachers, her Ministry will be compiling and releasing some “useful” information based on the National Standards that is meaningful for learners, schools, and parents.  Earlier, Prime Minister John Key opened debate about league tables when he expressed support for them.  (League tables compare data from different academic institutions.)  The teacher union believes league tables “would have a severely damaging effect on children’s education and would unfairly label schools and students as failing.”  Professor Martin Thrupp, an expert on school league tables says, “introducing the system here would lead to schools narrowing their teaching focus, competing for the ‘best’ students and rejecting those who fall behind in order to reach national targets.”

New Zealand

PM: Minister of Education drove class size backdown
New Zealand Herald (11 June 2012)

After pushing an unpopular plan in face of educator opposition and refusing to meet with key stakeholders, the government has decided to totally reverse its class size increase policy.  Prime Minister John Key “admitted today that communicating information about the policy to change student-teacher ratios and how the Government would mitigate the impact on the worst-affected schools had not been handled well.”  Sensing that the debate with parents was being lost (one poll revealed that 79 percent of New Zealanders were against increasing class sizes), Key said, “What it risked doing was causing months of industrial action, huge amounts of anxiety from parents and children and you’ve got to ask yourself is if that’s really worth it and I think the conclusion we drew was no.”

New Zealand

Editorial: Size matters, but excellence even more so
New Zealand Herald (17 May 2012)

While it acknowledges that class size matters, the New Zealand government has adopted the position that the quality of teaching is more important.  Leveraging on the research findings of the Grattan Institute report that raising teacher quality is more effective than reducing class size, New Zealand would allow class size to increase so as to save money to boost teacher quality.  All trainee teachers will be expected to possess a post-graduate qualification, and teachers will be assessed under a new performance management system.  Performance-based pay might be a possibility under the new measures to be adopted.  Despite the government’s stance, parents and unions remain worried about the proposal.

New Zealand

Charter school trials to take place across the country
Armstrong, J.  New Zealand Herald (21 April 2012)

Act, the ruling political party, will continue with its controversial plan to set up autonomous charter schools, and it is now likely to take in disadvantaged schools across the country, rather than just being restricted to those in south Auckland and Christchurch, so as to avoid the “fish bowl” effect.  The concept of charter schools has been heavily criticised by teacher unions, academics, and some politicians who point to the failure of some charter schools in the United States to lift students’ educational achievement.  (See New Zealand’s Green Party’s criticisms of charter schools here.)  The Chairwoman of the New Zealand Model of Charter School Working Group, Catherine Isaac, said the group would look at overseas examples of success and failure as part of its development of a New Zealand model, as well as seeking meetings with teacher unions as part of an extensive round of consultations.

New Zealand

Charter schools ‘harmful’ says study
Davison, I.  New Zealand Herald (14 April 2012)

Despite an academic group’s insistence that charter schools “may do more harm than good to the under-achievers,” the New Zealand Government “has recently reaffirmed its keenness to implement charter schools…”  Under the National-Act agreement, New Zealand will be implementing charter school reform in areas that are traditionally low-achieving—South Auckland, Christchurch East, and possibly Wellington.  “The academic group welcomed the Government’s focus on the need to address educational achievement through wider social and economic policies,” but they believe the narrow focus of the educational achievement data could end up increasing the educational inequities charter schools aim to reduce.  The Government, however, countered that there were many different models of charter schools worldwide.  Said Act Party leader and Associate Education Minister John Banks, “For our New Zealand model we are taking the best of the best ideas from the most successful charter schools, as well as from the most successful schools in New Zealand.”  The same academic group also said that charter schools were a “radical departure” from the principles of social democracy and civic participation.

Despite the debate about charter schools, this video highlights how charter schools “remain a mystery” for many New Zealanders, whereas this video is an interview with Head of Education at Aukland University, Dr. Airini, discussing the aforementioned poll and the New Zealand charter school movement in general.