Pondering our “long tail of underachievement”

In preparation for Term 3’s EduCafe event (see http://www.educafeblog.com) I have been doing a little homework.

The question that we will be discussing is this:

20 odd years of top down reforms hasn’t changed the long tail of underachievement in New Zealand education. SO! What are some bottom up reforms that will make meaningful, lasting changes?

I must say that, when you Google this, the majority of results that come up seem to imply teachers and schools are unable make changes or turn the situation around at all. The words poverty, social class, charter schools, economy and failure keep popping up.

Jeff Johnstone has blogged about this topic and suggests that we may need to re-frame our thinking. Instead of worrying about things we can’t change or by playing the blame game (poverty, culture, family etc.) we should focus on what we can change within our schools. Read his post here.

I’ve also browsed through this doccument, an Inquiry into Making the System Work for Every Child. The document discusses some top down reforms but also mentions the great impact teachers have through effective assessment, teaching as a result of this, personalisation of learning, engagement of students, high expectations and so on. In short, what I got out of this is that teachers and leaders within the school have an enormous impact on student achievement. We know this, of course (otherwise why would we bother teaching?!) but I think we need to focus on our impact on students, rather factors we have no control over.

I’m really looking forward to discussing this (rather contentious) issue further at EduCafe on the 15th of August. Come and join us! What are some bottom up reforms you can suggest that would make meaningful, lasting changes? For tickets, clickhere.


2 thoughts on “Pondering our “long tail of underachievement”

  1. Hey Emma, I really wished I could have attended this session. It is a topic close to my heart being Samoan and seeing the data coming through for my people. You are on the right track, as schools we need to change. Take time to get to know our parents and children personally.

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