Pressure Towards The Mean: Do We Really Want To Abolish Streaming?

134
2669

ABOLISH STREAMING, that is the demand of the Post-Primary Teachers Association (PPTA). They are not alone in their determination to put an end to the “blatantly racist” practice of grouping secondary-school students according to their intelligence/academic ability. The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, considers streaming “inequitable” and the Ministry of Education agrees with him. With forces as powerful as the Minister, the Ministry, and the Union ranged against the practice, its days would appear to be numbered.

Which just leaves New Zealanders with the vexed question of what will happen when streaming is no more? Will their children emerge from the public education system with the skills and qualifications necessary to foot-it in the modern world? Or, will their education be limited to whatever the least engaged and least talented students allow their teachers to impart? If that is the outcome, then all the opponents of streaming will have achieved by its elimination is a society managed by traditionally-educated immigrants equipped with all the internationally recognised skills and qualifications that young, publicly-educated New Zealanders no longer possess.

Although driven by demands for equity, the abolition of streaming in the public secondary system will not make New Zealand a more equitable nation. No more than the students themselves, will parents be fooled by the randomised mixing of individuals of radically different abilities. The mums and dads of highly intelligent and powerfully motivated children will do everything within their power to ensure that their offspring are pushed and extended to the fullest extent of their powers. If they cannot get this from the public sector, then they will turn to private providers. The reformers’ push towards equity will not end in a narrowing of the class and racial divides, it will drive them wider apart.

Māori middle-class parents will be as keen to see their offspring extended as middle-class Pākehā parents. Those who cannot afford the $30,000 per year fees of the leading private schools, will do all within their power to move their families into the zones of the most prestigious public schools, where the strong class bias of the “good schools’” catchments will lessen the impact of streaming’s abolition. Māori middle-class parents are well aware that as diversity quotas are achieved, and the need for positive discrimination declines, social advancement will increasingly depend on having the right credentials. Though they can hardly come out and say so, the drive towards racial equity – of which the abolition of streaming is part – is not in their own children’s interests.

There is, after all, a very powerful justification for streaming. Highly-complex, technologically-sophisticated civilisations, based on science, simply cannot do without the rigid hierarchies of competence that keep them functioning. The streaming process is, therefore, absolutely critical to the social and intellectual winnowing required to concentrate and develop talent. Streaming isn’t just about grouping the smartest students together, it’s about acculturating the smartest students to being smart. Streaming encourages students to value and accept their larger capabilities. In a non-streamed environment, the pressure is inevitably towards the mean – in every sense of the word.

- Sponsor Promotion -

The supposed downside of this meritocratic imperative is its negative impact upon those of lesser competence. New Zealanders, in particular, jibe at the very notion of hierarchies. They tell themselves that they are egalitarians, and fool themselves into thinking that egalitarianism means every person is the same as every other person – even when they know it isn’t true. (Just ask them if they would select an All Black team on that basis!)

New Zealanders have forgotten that their public education system was not conceived as an environment in which every student gets an “A”, but as a place where every kid capable of getting an “A” receives the professional instruction and educational resources he or she needs to be awarded an “A”. It should not matter whether you’re Māori or Pākehā, rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight: if you’ve got the talent, then you should be equipped to go as far as it can take you. And if getting “As” in academic disciplines isn’t your thing, then the education system’s job is to find out what your thing is – and develop it to the fullest extent.

That is what Charles Beeby and Peter Fraser meant when they together defined the education policy of the First Labour Government:

“The government’s objective, broadly expressed, is that every person, whatever his level of academic ability, whether he be rich or poor, whether he live in town or country, has a right, as a citizen, to a free education of the kind for which he is best fitted, and to the fullest extent of his powers.”

Apart from the relentless use of the masculine pronoun, the phrase that sticks most in the craw of twenty-first century educators is: “for which he is best fitted”. The PPTA’s argument is that the cultural logic of colonisation leads racist Pakeha teachers to the view that Māori and Pasifika are “best fitted” to be hewers of wood and drawers of water: a stereotype into which, for the rest of their time in secondary school, the system will do its best to transform them. Get rid of streaming, argues the Union, and that evil colonial project is made much more difficult.

Except, of course, transforming secondary school classes into random collections of students of every colour from every background is, itself, a pipe dream. Different races and different classes live in different places. Getting rid of streaming at Auckland Grammar will look quite different from getting rid of streaming at Northland College. And even if the Ministry of Education could magically produce perfectly random collections of students (much as the US Supreme Court tried to do by “bussing” kids from one side of town to the other) the Bell Curve would still not be denied – only those kids at either end of it.

It is a matter for considerable regret that the PPTA, in its determination to overcome the effects of colonisation, shows every sign of establishing a new regime where the “soft bigotry of low expectations” will only end up making the racist outcomes worse.

134 COMMENTS

  1. Ending streaming and thereby handicapping talented students would be the end of our comforting myth that “NZ is a good place to raise children” – which we use to lure back ex-pats looking to have children.

    So it would also hasten the flow of talented young people going offshore, and they would end up staying there.

    • You wouldn’t be saying it if you were put in the ‘dumb’ class at school.

      Writing off masses of pupils seems fundementally wrong IMO.

      • I do not see streaming as “writing off masses of pupils”. Anyone who mixes with a wide section of society will know that people do not all have the same abilities so it is pointless expecting them to learn the same things. Education obviously needs to improve for those that are not so academic so that they remain motivated to learn & can find successful careers but that is no reason to restrict the education of higher ability students who will be future decision-makers.
        People need to be respected for who they are there is nothing more unequal than equal treatment of unequal people.

        • All streaming is, is segregation. All the ‘bright’ kids get all the attention and resources, and the rest get dumped in the ‘cabbage class’ and end up doing worthless ‘alternative’ subjects, and pushed out the door at 16 to do meaningless ‘courses’.

          • You are dumbing down the education system even further to magically disappear performance gaps all in the name of the demon entity you worship, Equity.

            • Equity simply means everyone gets a job, or everyone get a roof over their heads, or everyone gets healthcare. That is something we should be striving towards as a society.

          • when you share a class room with the disruptive it holds the other kids back…idealism is fine but reality intervenes. Why do you think the middle class send their kids to old style private schools and academies whilst trialing the latest educational fad on the proles?

      • Or, you’re in the “dumb” class where you’re not actually dumb, but have different learning styles, and you need remedial help with reading. You have a similar level of achievement as everyone else in your class. When the class is all given the same assignment, you’re as good at it as everyone else.

        The alternative is that you’re worse than everyone one else, and you know it. You’re embarrassed, and that makes you withdrawn. You resort to playing up, and pretending that you don’t care that you’re struggling, but you do. You lash out and bully the smarter kids, because that’s your defense mechanism.

        FYI, I was subjected to the above when I was placed in a non-streamed experimental english class, including being bullied by my teacher (in the ‘old school’ manner). Mixing those who were fluent readers with those who aren’t, and making people read aloud in front of the class isn’t fun for anyone.

    • Ada. Not necessarily so. Having taught at intermediate ( briefly ) secondary and university level both here and overseas, I know it’s a complex issue. However in my first year teaching with a very large non- streamed class, I put the kids into groups, and often had the bright pupils helping out with the slower ones. It worked very well and they all flourished under it. The slower kids were stimulated by their brighter peer group, which doesn’t happen if they are all lumped together.

      At a comprehensive secondary school in London, where streaming had already occurred at 11+, so that my boys were those who had missed out on getting into a grammar school, I sometimes grouped them again, and was highly commended by the dreaded inspectorate for doing so. A major positive dynamic was that the pupils interacted well, and, importantly, they became really confident about asking questions in group situations.

      Coincidentally, at this time I became socially acquainted with Sir John Hunt, later Lord Hunt, then, I think chairman of the ILEA, and was really impressed by his interest in, and knowledge of all of these issues, which is one reason I get fed up with people in this country slagging upper class Brits as useless. He was a conservative chappie, but keen to explore issues at every level, he had no need to be impressing me .

      In Asia, it was very different in that all the parents placed a high value on education and with such parents, the students are motivated to do well, and they worked hard, and possibly too hard, often with pre school and post school classes. In this country the same sort of thing is evident, with Asian immigrants often with English as a second language, performing better academically than our home spun lot. Kelvin Davis seems to blame the education system for Maori children not doing well, but hasn’t said why outsiders can do so well under the same sort of system.

      There are no easy answers. My London pupils were a very mixed group, including ethnically and religiously, studious Jewish kids who gave me lovely Christmas gifts, Polish refugees from backgrounds not many New Zealanders could begin to relate to, and I daresay more damaged than I knew back then, but the same situation obviously applies here now too.

      There is much more to “achieving,’ than just having a high IQ. If you think that “ talented “ students
      can get written off by associating with the lesser ones, then how about showing how and why. I loved all mine, and I think that that is possibly the first requirement for any teacher, and the majority of kids are okay people, and that I know. Having said that, I acknowledge the ghastly bullying phenomenon which is present in some schools now, but that is a broader societal issue which successive politicians keep failing to grasp.

      • That’s very impressive Snow White. I will read all your future contributions in the light of this history.
        D J S

      • Your admirable teaching strategies mirror those of the Finns, Snow White. As far as I know streaming plays no part in the Finnish education system – reputed to be the best in the world. But, the Finnish government pours enormous resources into its system and pays its teachers top salaries. Were our own government to do the same, then we, too, might be able to dispense with streaming. In the absence of a Finnish level of commitment, however, streaming remains a necessity.

        • The pertinent point is what the evidence base is for outcomes for different systems. I believe the main point of those asking for change is that they claim the research points to no benefits to high achievers, and negative benefits to low achievers.

          Of course, it might be more complex than that, I recall my secondary school had a class for those who were failing in the mainstream, and I remember those students really loved their teacher, who was obviously chosen for her ability to work with what would now be called the “neurodiverse.”

          Also, in my son’s secondary school, in the first two years before subject options make it too complex, they have an “extension class”. Students are supposed to be selected for it on the basis that they have a strong desire to achieve academically. The desire to get into that class seemed to motivate him a lot to study hard, but he didn’t notice much difference in the quality of the classes from the years he was in extension to the following years when that class was not offered.

        • no but they do have more than enough respected and well paid teachers and teachers aides plus excellent resources we are never likely to have that standard of provision in a neo-lib economy chris

  2. Truancy is already high, chuck the intellectuals in with the stabbers & titty twisters and the smartest among our students will go learn somewhere else.

    We should be deepening the streams, with the absolute ferals shipped off away from anyone they could harm.

    • But by your logic how are the “intellectuals” impacted by the “stabbers & titty twisters” if they are never at school and constantly wagging? Or are the stabbers and titty twisters somehow studious when it comes to attendance and the truants are another category altogether?

    • Its highly likely that the absolute ferals you bang on about are the ones that are chronically absent. It suits the schools to not chase them up.

    • TWGBTM’s comment shows a problem with this streaming debate.

      There is a big difference between aptitude and attitude. Those with higher innate ability are not necessarily the better motivated or behaved. That there is such a strong association between those considered to have greater ability and those who are obedient and compliant suggests a couple of the problems of classifying students – like it or not it affects attitudes, expectations and behaviours towards particular students, including those towards themselves. It is dangerous to set up destructive cycles.

      Another dangerous cycle that can be set up is what we are now seeing with the PMC. A mutual admiration society of former children of the well-to-do who are talented at looking clever and regurgitating information, but actual thinking – too often, not so much.

      I know, I know, IQ tests. Yet these are not neutral and objective. Try doing one on two different days – when you are calm, well-slept, not hungry or malnourished, feeling okay. Then do one when you are exhausted, overwhelmed by problems, unconfident and rundown. The results won’t be the same, and these are aspects are a part of just one dimension that can influence results.

      I’m not necessarily against streaming, but the problems need to be ironed out. If they can be. Elitism too often begins as a self-fulfilling prophesy – and so does academic failure.

  3. As if we needed further evidence that our public education system has been overrun by woke activists. And this is just the sort of idea that Ardern and friends are likely to go for, regardless of what the evidence shows. The PPTA spokesman says the evidence shows that streaming is harmful. If that’s the case, then let’s see the evidence – all of it, not just the bits that align with the PPTA’s position.

    Chris I’m pretty confident that the mention of “racist outcomes” in your closing sentence is just a unfortunate slip of the pen, and not evidence that you actually believe that outcomes can be “racist”. According to the woke, inequalities of outcome in a schools can ONLY be the result of racism or sexism in said schools.

    As you point out, the virtuous PPTA spokesman seems willfully ignorant of some of the likely consequences of abolishing streaming, like ambitious parents removing their children from the public school system.

  4. It’s simply Critical Race Theory writ-large. It is Far-left nonsense academic ideologies imported into NZ directly from the USA where its slowly destroying what remaining social fabric remains.

    The question isn’t what other NZ institutions buy into this nonsense – but are there any institutions left that don’t promote this garbage? Very few, if any.

    America has some push-back from the Courts and NGOs such as FAIR. UK has some alternative media and counter-voices.

    NZ is an hegemonic orgy of “critical justice” theories in virtually every social and political institution.

    I’m not usually given to catastrophizing, but I see NZ as almost singularly fucked and most of TDB commentators are stuck in tribal-Left groupings who can’t see the only real solution is to hold your nose and seek counter-balance through a strong Act turn-out. The reality is that Act is hardly going to offer much difference from neo-Liberal Labour (despite Martyn’s continual ‘Labour is still better’ nonsense apologia) anyway, but at least offer a side-ramp off the social demolition of NZ.

    • There is already an existing side-ramp but it is for individuals and families: simply leave NZ and start somewhere else in the world.

      Far more rational to book a flight than hoping and waiting for change from our political class.

      And it is a good time to go as the Australians, Canadians, and the UK makes it easier for NZers to move out of NZ. Those countries are looking for workers.

    • and explain exactly how this is crt james…presumably the acknowledgement of differences based on race is the antithesis of crt…y’thunk?

    • CRT simply means teaching that some whites think that being white makes them superior to blacks and other races, and that once, whites forced blacks to piss in seperate toilets, owned them as property, etc.

      Anyway, it looks like the tide is turning, with Asians leading the charge to not have to have their kids in classrooms with blacks.

  5. You are absolutely correct Chris.
    You know it, I know it and I suspect most of the teachers know it’s true. However, the union is hijacked by ideological zealots who would sooner see all the kids fail, just as long as they fail equally.

    Meanwhile, as our education performance slowly drifts down the international rankings neither the politicians nor the bureaucrats have any answers. Hell, they won’t even acknowledge it as a fact!

  6. Coupled with overcrowded open plan classrooms – sorry, modern learning environments – abolishing streaming is just another accelerant to mediocrity. And get cellphones out of schools.

    • Yeah, I was inclined to think that this was something that could possibly work with small classes and masses of remedial resources per pupil … oh, wait.

      • The Key government hired a patsy educational researcher who “proved” that class size doesn’t influence learning outcomes. Then when a journalist timidly asked Key why he sent his kids to private schools, he named “smaller classes” as one of the advantages. Did the journalist then jump all over his appalling hypocrisy? No way, such was the sway that our first “celebrity” PM held over NZ journalists. of course many of the same journalists later fawned over Ardern.

  7. Education dept is going to fund 350 teacher less next year due to falling roles rather than keep the teachers and cut class numbers and increase one on one for those falling behind. This could bring the children up to a higher standard rather than stop streaming to stop discrimination.

  8. So they want to mix the dumb kids and the brainy kids together in the same class room ??? all that will do is confirm to the bright kids that they are clever….and confirm to the dumb kids , we are dumb and let’s go ram raid…

  9. My immediate reaction is the same as Cris’s and everyone else. But I have some thoughts .
    Firstly it is disruptive kids that prevent others from learning and though they might not be the most academically inclined they are not necessarily the dumbest by any means. If they could be “streamed” out it might help.
    Secondly as far as secondary school takes education, as long as a kid can read and has a basic maths grasp by 15 or 16 if they have talent they can catch up with a bit extra motivation at uni.
    Third by the age of 15/16 many if not most of the unmotivated kids will have streamed themselves out anyway, and as long as the remainder have the basics i doubt if many of them will be badly disadvantaged by the loss of the extra specialist stuff they might have missed out on up till then.
    Speaking as one who though never disruptive was not a good student. there was always something much more fun to do outside than homework.
    D J S

    • A good point David!
      A lot of those ‘dumb’ kids knew they were wasting their time, fooled around in the classroom and then got into the trades. Result: Five years later they’re out-earning their teachers and the ‘bright’ kid who went to uni who has a miserable working life in an office and a student loan to pay off.
      Both of my kids got their UE in the day but chose not to go there. Both doing great and both own homes.

  10. So what happens to those dumped in the dumb classes if the commenters beloved streaming is kept?

    They are just written off, like so many other NZers have been since 1984.

    • Go back and read the post again, Millsy.

      I am absolutely of the view that our public education system should aim to equip all students for a good life.

      What I don’t believe is that the hierarchies of competence necessary for the sort of properly functioning modern society that makes it possible to attend to the needs of every child can be maintained without streaming.

      How do you guarantee health care for all if there are insufficient qualified and competent doctors?

      • Our schools don’t even teach students basic civics like “never talk to the police if you’ve committed a crime”.

        And the Greens want 16 year olds to vote…

      • Millsy is a typical of the hard left who call for no scores recorded for sporting teams so there are no losers and winners . The problem is he would rather see the elite students shackled to the level of the poor students so they are equally bad rather than doing the hard work of sorting out the poor students and giving them the help to improve .
        This country should aim to be the one that sends doctors nurses IT specialists and teachers around the World after getting a first class education rather than stealing them from other countries .Stealing educated people is the easy way that respective governments have taken over the years and covid has proved it is a poor model to follow going forward

        • I just dont think it suits anyone for certain groups of students to be ‘isolated’ from each other, that is all, and streaming segregates pupils, and the pupils that dont get in the top class just get written off, condemed to low wage menial jobs. At least in the good old days, that people like you deride, because apparently people at the bottom got over paid, one could leave school at 15, and get an entry-level clerical job/apprenticeship and work ones way up from there.

      • A good life is just being on the property ladder. How does one undo the serfs and landed gentry bifurcation that is emerging, and that is before ethnic, linguistic and national(!?) differences are added on top?

    • which is why we need more teachers and resources. Hands on learning is the best way to learn.
      More Art classes, ( sculpting , modeling painting working with clay ) all of these practices work for dyslexics because they are tactile. More Drama ( includes writing and criticism) and a Philosophy class. Why?? because it teaches communication thru storytelling leading to logical thinking which can be taught initially thru digital games.I know all this is anathema to the current methods of Education in NZ but when my kids went thru the system I introduced phonics at our local primary school which was so sucessful we were able to use the reading recovery program funding for music courses.Education has been steadily declinig in NZ for 40 years. NCEA is a fucking disaster. We need excellence. Few teachers can teach Shakespeare anymore. I made sure my kids learnt Shakespeare . They are all seriously wired creatives in their adulthood with occupations that reflect that level of literacy.They also have hands on skills ( that is they can repair things! and problem solve). This is backward step by the PPTA. Fuckwittery rules.

      • I think School Cert/6FC/Bursary should have been kept for academic subjects (English, Maths, Science, etc) while NCEA be used for all the vocational subjects (woodwork, sewing, etc)

    • which is why we need more teachers and resources. Hands on learning is the best way to learn.
      More Art classes, ( sculpting , modeling painting working with clay ) all of these practices work for dyslexics because they are tactile. More Drama ( includes writing and criticism) and a Philosophy class. Why?? because it teaches communication thru storytelling leading to logical thinking which can be taught initially thru digital games.I know all this is anathema to the current methods of Education in NZ but when my kids went thru the system I introduced phonics at our local primary school which was so sucessful we were able to use the reading recovery program funding for music courses.Education has been steadily declining in NZ for 40 years. NCEA is a fucking disaster. We need excellence. Few teachers can teach Shakespeare anymore. I made sure my kids learnt Shakespeare . They are all seriously wired creatives in their adulthood with occupations that reflect that level of literacy.They also have hands on skills ( that is they can repair things! and problem solve). This is a backward step by the PPTA. Fuckwittery rules.

      • It was National that developed the NCEA, and originally it was supposed to erase any distinction between academic and vocational. It was perfect for a privatised competitive education system that they aspired to.

    • That’s an argument for more effective testing, if students are being incorrectly put into classes where they are more than capable of grasping concepts at a greater rate than their peers. The point of effective streaming is to ensure that classes are learning at approximately the same rate. It doesn’t set a limit on the maximum level that individuals or classes can achieve at, beyond the limits set by the typical number of years that a student spends in secondary school.

    • @millsy That’s an argument for better support at the bottom end (which I fully support) potentially a broader educational base with an emphasis towards more applied and less academic teaching. Consider an obvious consequence, have you tried teaching a class of 30+ kids with wildly varying abilities, what do you think likely outcomes would be?

      As CT says removing streaming will simply result in even more resources and opportunity accumulating towards those who can afford to send their kids to private school, buy houses in the right catchment areas or access after school tutors.

      This is overwhelmingly a class issue being framed as a race issue with a solution that will magnify and entrench class differences. Exactly what we have come to expect from the elitists and useful idiots of the woke left.

      • “That’s an argument for better support at the bottom end”
        That is a point Tui. Streaming might well be of more importance for the slower kids. They might need more teaching, especially if there were more teachers around like Snow White.
        D J S

    • The biggest issue I have is people on this blog labelling kids in lower streams as “Dumb”. If adults in this forum have such narrow views, how can they teach anything different to their kids.

      There are kids who do well academically as they are gifted or have strong desire to achieve top of the class and put serious efforts towards it, and there are kids who have less or both. However, that does not make lesser kids dumb. They have yet to find their motivation, or find things that they love doing.

      Needs of both these student groups are different, and to lump both together so that some kids don’t get labelled dumb, is throwing the baby with the bath water.

      If this happens, teachers will be unfair to 1 group, either they will teach stuff that is too high for some kids, or too low for others. I myself come from a small school, where we had only 1 class per year level. The top 15 competed against each other, while the bottom 15 sat in the back and were invisible to the teacher.

      • I thoroughly disagree. Intelligence is a collection of highly related innate attributes. Certainly, you can waste someone’s innate intelligence by treating them as if they are stupid and giving them no opportunities to learn. Just as there exist people who are above average in say spatial intelligence but below average in verbal intelligence and vice versa, but generally intelligence is like any other normally distributed trait, and more of it is generally good. People who score higher on other measures of intelligence even have faster reaction times, of all the seemingly ‘intelligenceless’ things one could measure.

        We can, and should, acknowledge that intelligence is real. Very few people chose to be dumb. I’m of average intelligence and I have dumb relatives who I love and so do you, and society should be structured so that people who are dumb can still live a fulfilling decent life.

        Embryo selection is already allowing embryos to be chosen with gene distributions that may put them a few IQ points above what would be the average expected for a random embryo from the pairing. IVF births are already 10% of births in many developed nations. We should make sure that these services are available to as many couples as possible in future.

        The denial of intelligence and the uplifting of self-agency is probably the nastiest aspect of libertarianism, which tends to be followed by not very successful ‘gifted kids’ who want to crush the weak because they selfishly think they’d have been successful if only tax money wasn’t being wasted “feeding the poor” and suchlike things they consider unnecessary.

        • other countries germany is an example that springs to mind the intellectually gifted go to schools where tertiary education is the expectation less academically gifted go to ‘trade schools’ it’s probably better to be ‘the best plumber in dusseldorf’ than ‘the worst abstract artist in dusseldorf’ but the germans actually care about education that’s why they have an educated and capable workforce we strive for the opposite.

        • I somewhat agree.

          However my comment was not on intelligence, but on academic success at school. Even the most intelligent person would underachieve at school if put in wrong environment. There are lot of environmental factors at play, e.g. parental support, parental education, nutrition, peer groups & friends, quality of teachers, and teaching support.

          Hence, intelligence alone will not guarantee academic success at school.

          Yes, one may achieve well if gifted/intelligent or have strong work ethic at school. However, a “dumb” kid at school might own their own business and pay the wages of the academic achiever. Does that make the later “dumb”. Example, a cleaner may run their own business, while a (academic achiever) accountant will work for them.

          I do support streaming, but all levels need to extend the ability of their students. If teachers treat their lower stream as “dumb” and just baby sit them, then that is injustice to the students, and to the society as a whole.

          Secondly, society does not need every person to be Bill Gates or Einstein. Everybody has an ability to excel in some field and earn a living. Right support will greatly enable students to achieve in fields that cater to their ability and make them prosper.

    • Millsy
      What happens to those who don’t make the All Blacks? What happens to those who don’t win Lotto? What happens to those who don’t know how to operate a device so they can post here, like you. Why don’t you tell us what happens to anyone in life? As for the kids not in the top streams. Just give them their NCEA certificate for free and send them into the big wide world. Thats where its all heading. Everybody happy.

      • Rugby players who dont make the All Blacks continue to play at club and/or provincial level. I dont think there is a valid comparison.

  11. When I was at high school they dumped people into the lowest stream, had the least expectations of that class and had the inevitable result that most left school at 15. This was followed by that greatest of all social barriers School C. The use of scaling the results to ensure only about 50% passed meant that the majority of kids “failed” high school. If streaming is the only remaining vestige of that inequitable system then good riddance to it.

    • I’ve always been confused by the problem that people have with scaling. It’s not like, in a population of tens of thousands, anyone in one year got cheated because the rest of their year group was somehow substantially smarter than them, and they would have gotten better grades in another year.

      If your problem with the percentage metric is that it’s set at a point that half of students will fail, then it sounds like you want to change things so that achieving at the 30th percentile rather than the 50th percentile is a pass, not with scaling itself.

      NCEA just makes it more difficult to tell what student grades mean. A student who gets the same ‘NCEA Level 1’ certificate as any other might be anything from a B+ to F student.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if larger employers have models they can feed individual NCEA data into, taking courses, schools, and other factors into account. It’s completely worthless for any other purpose though.

    • Oh, come on Peter H, toughen up! I started teaching in 1970, when woke types were already wittering on about how monstrous it was for School Certificate to deliberately and cynically fail 50% of its beloved candidates..
      After a couple of weeks of teaching, I realised that in fact we should have been failing 80% of the lazy little brats: only about 20% were really making an effort.
      My proposal would be to stream everybody, and allow only 20% to pass. Half of that 20% would be eligible for promotion to a higher stream, and the bottom 10% of a class would be eligible for demotion to a lower stream.
      That might prepare our students for life’s real lessons, which now seem to be avoided in schools rather than actually taught.

      • Sadly deregulation failed the 80% you talk about. In the days you were teaching those struggling at school had many industries and assembly businesses to fall back on. Not any more. These people now fall.back on the benefit and we wonder why?

      • Yep, 80%, thrown on the scrap heap, condemned to a life time of low wage jobs. People like you make me sick.

        • Millsy – they were NOT thrown on the scrapheap. They got a pretty fair go. Job at 15, and after a few years they were generally improving their positions to the point that most of the mugs who stayed behind at school to get School Cert never caught up in terms of total money earned. Those stats came out in the mid-70s.
          I guess some people really need that sarc tag.. And it is unemployment since Rogernomics that has caused the real tragedy, OK?

        • manual work is not ‘the scrapheap’ millsey(no work is) and sneering at it betrays you…In my work life I’ve met many people who’s practical skills made me look like a caveman…and frankly me describing it and them actually doing it is a big diff

          • I agree with you there. Trouble is that a) not everyone is suitable for manual labour, and b) manual jobs are very, very insecure these days. I browse the job sites on a regular basis (nothing wrong with seeing what is on the menu), and all the manual jobs are bascially casual and done through labour-hire agencies.

            In any case, I have always been of the opinion that even manaul workers need to be equipped with some sort of awareness of the world around them and how things work, and not just know nothing other than how to push a wheelbarrow, use Facebook, and vote for whatever right wing populist is the flavour of the month.

            And also, people need to realise that we just cannot push everyone who ‘is not suited for uni’ into a trade. I have had trades people come to my house, they need to be able to have the confidence to go into people’s houses, articulate what is wrong, and fix it — we need tradies with good people skills as well as good technical skills.

            • millsy your concerns could be met by a trade school curriculum not ‘just this is a brick’ but the points you bring up to….
              it’s not a question of manual jobs being insecure all jobs are insecure.

  12. Out of idle curiosity, what systems are in place to determine the success of this proposal?

    How will the country know if it’s a success?

    When will the country know if it’s a success?

    • You’ll just have to rely on NCEA results… hahahahahahahah.

      Here’s how this will be implemented:
      A) Private schools will continue streaming, if they have the appropriate scale. Students will be appropriately challenged.
      B) Public schools will not. So if your son or daughter has high mathematical aptitude, instead of being streamed into a ‘Year 11’ class where they would be prepared to do pre-university calculus work at a reasonable level in the latter two forms, or at least learn something about statistics, their class will be doing a bunch of numeracy ‘unit standards’ (“If Caleb is holding four bananas in one hand and two in the other, how many bananas is he holding in total?”) so that everyone gets to pass.

      Of course, it means your kid won’t be taking ‘achievement standards’ where they could accumulate credits towards a ‘merit’ or ‘excellence’ ‘endorsement’ (the equivalent of about a C-B average or B-A in a real system) on their meaningless NCEA pass certificate, they’ll just get the same meaningless NCEA cert as everyone else who showed up to class most of the year.

      But our betters in Wellington don’t send their kids to public schools, so they won’t be bothered.

    • The country will never know if it a success because the studies done by educationalists will be heavily slanted towards declaring it a success, while studies done by other academics will be argued over and discredited by the educationalists.

      When will we know, one way or another? Best answer is after everyone responsible for the decision is long retired or deceased.

    • How will the country know if it’s a success? When will the country know if it’s a success?

      I remember asking those exact questions when Tomorrows Schools was promulgated. All those changes, all those ‘babies out with the bath water,’ all that angst. Would kids learn better or more and be any better off? And the country be any better off? 30+ years later, are there answers?

  13. Just spoke to my hubby (a secondary school teacher and PPTA member) and said “Did you know your union supports ending all streaming?” His reply “Yeah, cos it’s woke as anything!” His reply is not a ringing endorsement. And then there are the class barns (classes of 50+ students) which some also think a good idea…

    • By the sounds of it, your husband shouldnt be anywhere near a classroom.

      I bet he is one of those teachers who used to tell brown kids they would never amount to anything in life.

  14. If the PPTA are concerned about ‘racist’ test results, there is a simple solution. Return to a real percentage based mark, and simply norm Maori test results separately from non-Maori.

  15. if streaming is racist isn’t that an admission of different intellectual capabilities between races and therefore racist in the extreme? if you want to say it’s divisive fine but frankly that’s a weak argument but throw in the ‘r’ word and your position is unassailable…..mind you it is probably transphobic innit?

  16. thing with comprehensive education is like care in the community…we don’t have it the original concept was for ‘sets’ so you might be in the top stream for physics, the middle stream for geography and the bottom stream for french…a good by product would be smaller groups for a set in any particular subject…BUT and there is always a BUT this required more teachers and more classrooms so it got ditched for the crude streaming system…..

  17. Abolishing streaming without abolishing class society will not have the outcome that the liberals in the PPTA desire for the reasons that Chris Trotter outlines – the Rich will simply circumvent it – but also for a more fundamental reason.

    It’s a liberal illusion that it is possible to change society through education. Streaming in schools does not produce inequality, it merely reaffirms what is built into the social relations of class society and automatically reproduced by it.

    Of course “every person is not the same as every other person.” Karl Marx recognised this in his famous aphorism “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The classless society of the future will celebrate those with an aptitude for science, as it will its sporting champions or its talented artists. To what extent, if any, it will be necessary to place those people into segregated environments in order to develop their abilities will be a question for the citizens of that society to decide.

  18. Another triumph of ideology over common sense. Our education system is effed. My kids were taught six years apart and already they have experienced a vastly different quality of education, to say nothing of ideology. They both attended single sex special character schools.

    My son is not neuro typical and was always going to struggle and my daughter is bright enough to do Level 2 Calculus. One attended an achievement-oriented school with good teachers, higher class numbers and a demanding NCEA load of 21 points in most subjects. Average class size 32.

    6 years later my daughter who is a bit lazy but bright enough attends the sister school with a 6% higher pass rate. It is Woke AF and not streamed. I thought the curriculum had changed in the intervening 6 years as my daughter seemed to have 1/2 the workload of my son. Midway through Level 2, I woke up to the fact that at the girl’s school, the points aimed for in most cases were only 14 – 16. So the kids are given less work in order to keep or raise the pass rate. Average class numbers 25 – 27.

    We have recently got through mock Level 2 exams and nearly everyone in the Classics class failed and failed down at the 25 percentile. The teacher then suggests that the entire class only attempts one of the 2 subjects to be sat externally. Classics isn’t hard and in my daughter’s case, she didn’t bother studying at all and then told me she was only going to attempt 1 subject on teacher’s advice. So on that basis, for the entire subject and a single external pass she would receive only 13 or 15 points for the entire subject. We had a row about it but she won’t budge and tells me that she has already passed for the year due to 20 extra Covid points.

    Apparently, her non streamed friends most of whom do home economics are all planning on not sitting any exam which is difficult and that is the strategy they are adopting because they can get by on the Covid points and it looks better for them on their record (and for the school) if they don’t attempt anything they won’t clearly pass. The only exceptions, the child of the Chinese cafe owner and the child of the Indian single mum house cleaner.

    So despite the issues of ‘class’ and English as a second language (neither girl is NZ born) and living in a poor area, these kids will do well because their parents are non negotiable on it. I am absolutely certain my daughter would have achieved so much more at school had the school been better and had she not been streamed in with kids whose highest ambitions were to be an ECE teacher or chef. Add in the Covid points and the last few years have been a CF.

  19. I’m trying to work out why the ‘good old days’ with the ‘world leading education system produced such a shitfest of a country. We have poverty, lawlessness, intolerance and ignorance aplenty.
    so where did they come from? We had streaming, did they come from there?

    • Because it taught the people in charge the discipline to fuck everyone else over. One size doesn’t fit everyone. Streaming for all.

      • Tedious tribalists are ten-a-penny Yuri. The problem isn’t “tory” mismanagement, it’s management based on ideology rather than evidence.

  20. Who cares if you’re in the dummies class, if daddy’s gonna buy you a starter mansion anyway? *crickets chirping*

  21. Kia ora Chris. Tautoko i to whakaaro. I don’t know what proportion of rank and file teachers support the PPTA’s stance on this issue (there was a survey put out by PPTA to members but results have not been published – it was self selecting so could lack validity). I do however suspect there is at least an even split of opinion on this issue by teachers BUT any dissent is silenced and/or ridiculed. Like you the only outcome I see from this ideology is more streaming between schools rather than within schools which to me will only make matters worse.

  22. “Streaming”.

    Just look at the Millennials and GenZ! The ‘Pay to Play’ generations of NZ fee-based edjewkshon.

    As long as you pay, you pass and get to play.

    So. If that is what they mean by ‘Streaming’ it definitely needs changing.

  23. bob the last…and who pray tell likes to ‘cut’ everything??? you really should engage your brain before you hit enter…you really should..you make it too easy

  24. I somewhat agree.

    However my comment was not on intelligence, but on academic success at school. Even the most intelligent person would underachieve at school if put in wrong environment. There are lot of environmental factors at play, e.g. parental support, parental education, nutrition, peer groups & friends, quality of teachers, and teaching support.

    Hence, intelligence alone will not guarantee academic success at school.

    Yes, one may achieve well if gifted/intelligent or have strong work ethic at school. However, a “dumb” kid at school might own their own business and pay the wages of the academic achiever. Does that make the later “dumb”. Example, a cleaner may run their own business, while a (academic achiever) accountant will work for them.

    I do support streaming, but all levels need to extend the ability of their students. If teachers treat their lower stream as “dumb” and just baby sit them, then that is injustice to the students, and to the society as a whole.

    Secondly, society does not need every person to be Bill Gates or Einstein. Everybody has an ability to excel in some field, earn a living and fulfill needs of the society. Right support will greatly enable students to achieve in fields that cater to their ability and make them prosper.

    • Too true Benny. I went to school with a real slimeball loser in both a social and educational sense (Sounds harsh but that was the absolute consensus at the time).

      Came back to my hometown 15 years later and he owned about a 1/4 of it. I’ve been successful but its a drop in the bucket compared to him.

  25. Streaming is now racist? What a crock of shit. What about streaming a class of maori students? Is that also racist? Nah, can’t be. Truth is, there is much more value for Labour in having a population where everyone is equally stupid, equally dumb. Funny that, from a government full of highly ambitious, highly educated academics. Betcha they all enjoyed being streamed back then!!!! Shows just how cynical this govt is. Evil actually. They gots da go!

  26. In the mid sixties when I went to a public secondary school and was streamed B, out of A to D, I had no problem with it and neither did any other of 750 kids that went to the school. There were plenty of Maori at the school but not so many Maori in the A Stream. There were plenty of Pakeha in the lower streams. Everyone was comfortable where they were for the most part. What amused me was how we were streamed. In the last term of primary school we sat a short test. It was a bit like an IQ test I guess although I’ve never formally sat one of those. There were general knowledge questions, a few arithmetic, and a few concept questions. I did ok as my general knowledge was ok. Looking back on that test I always doubted that it would reflect the overall intelligence of anyone. I assume that test went to the secondary school along with the teachers opinion on where the student fit, or was most comfortable. On thing for sure is the streaming didn’t mean much in the real world. I wish I’d been streamed lower as I would’ve taken woodwork and metalwork and they would have been more use to me as a farmer. My friend was streamed lower than me and is a millionaire so go figure. My opinion is the idea to ditch it is born out of Woke victim racial BS. How does a teacher successfully teach kids who will learn at different speeds. They won’t.

    • Indeed. It is certainly true that streaming has not always been conducted perfectly, nor is it necessarily done right now.

      The sort of tests that New Zealand’s failed schooling system generally conducts nowadays, probably test the psychological trait of ‘conscientiousness’ as much as they do intelligence. That’s a good predictor of whether someone will bother to finish three years of a BA in Economics without self-harming or changing majors, and whether they will become a fairly conformist clerical type of employee in the public or private sectors. It’s certainly not a predictor of entrepreneurship (easy credit, particularly from family and friends, playing a significantly greater part in that).

      While there is a ‘general factor of intelligence’, commonly known as ‘g’, which correlates quite well to a variety of tests- including simple reaction time, spatially-biased non-verbal tests like Raven’s Progressive Matrices, and even just vocabulary tests- no single test is going to 100% reliably assess ‘g’ or the other, correlated factors (the most important being those around verbal and spatial intelligence). These things should be tested at least biennially and from a reasonably young age- at least from intermediate school if not earlier- to establish good baselines. And attention should be given to the variety of factors- someone who does great in math and spatial but badly on the verbal side (not even that common- high-mid or high-high spatial/verbal are more common) is not likely to benefit from struggling with English or Classics classes teaching to abilities beyond their own.

    • It’s called fairness for all students, not just focusing on the higher achievers and condemning the rest to a life time of low wage jobs, like what you want to do.

      • I believe streaming is fair to all students. What’s not fair is bunging everyone in the same class and pretending those who are struggling are going to get the help they need. Don’t know what happened when you went to school Millsy but in my day lower streams did a similar curriculum to the A and B at a slower pace. They weren’t dumped and left to rot as you are suggesting. A and B streams tended to have more professional subjects that might suit those going to University but I think the tech courses are more useful for most. Now days you can’t even get the kids to go to school let alone worry about streaming.

      • welcome to the world millsy we don’t live in narnia…equality of outcome is impossible, equality of opportunity is essential…and that means the ability to do well whatever your ‘level’ forcing the ‘practical’ through a pseudo intellectual sausage machine where they fail is probably more cruel than any ‘grading’ now that will make them feel useless.

      • You seem strong on doctrine which is supposedly good and fair for the masses Millsy. I like valuing the individual and guiding ability and personal skills, not leaving youngsters to find the easiest level where they feel compatible. Put students together in teams for a project, some will do fine, others will spend most time discussing their last/next night out. I know because I have seen and heard just that.

    • How does a teacher successfully teach kids who will learn at different speeds?
      Did the test for streaming you did show the speed with which kids learner who was the brightest?

      One test which was common : ‘Test of Scholastic Abilities’ (TOSCA)

  27. Millsy
    What happens to those who don’t make the All Blacks? What happens to those who don’t win Lotto? What happens to those who don’t know how to operate a device so they can post here, like you. Why don’t you tell us what happens to anyone in life? As for the kids not in the top streams. Just give them their NCEA certificate for free and send them into the big wide world. Thats where its all heading. Everybody happy.

  28. meh – streaming – what a crock of shit. all the goody goody two shoes and try hards – no social skills, no collaboration, all selfish pricks who wouldn’t listen and thought they knew everything. All about grades and nothing about knowledge. most fell by the wayside by the time scholarship came around. same thing at university – all the high achievers couldn’t even work an oscilliscope or set up an experiment – answered the theory questions but struggled to get any decent data – fail. see it every day in the enterprise environment – all the right answers, apparently, but no skills. intelligence can’t be taught by being in the “special” class. lol

    • billid. because in most schools today practical experiments are not carried out…labs are ‘expensive’ I loved ‘stinks’ at school, probably didn’t learn much apart from ‘magnesium is burney’ but it held our attention.

  29. invested teachers investing knowledge in their students – no more, no less. whether it’s in the top middle or lower stream makes no difference – time eventually levels the playing field but how many have to wait until they’re adults before realising it.

  30. From what I’ve heard on the media recently it doesn’t make ny difference.

    Strming in NBHS during my time resulted in the headmaster’s son becoming hed prefect nd the deputy headmaster’s son becoming deputy hed prefect. I won’t say it was set up for the upper class s much s for teachers’ children like me.

    • The lack of vowel key that works, or the distinct anti-authoritarianism of my family? The one brother offered prefect job refused. Sure it was the same with the Mintos in the same school in the same time.

Comments are closed.