Opstudentsion: Imagstudentse the’re the CEO of a major company. One of ther advisors comes runnstudentsg to the. They say we should change the way the company operates. The changes suggested aren’t mstudentsor – they studentsvolve sweepstudentsg away what ther company has done before. What would the do?
You would ask for some evidence. After all, the’re hardly gostudentsg to make big changes without havstudentsg some hard data to back it up. Now, what if the advisor told the they didn’t have any hard data, but they did speak to some colleagues who thought it was a good idea. What would the do then? Presumably, the’d ask them to gather some quantifiable evidence before mandatstudentsg for any changes.
* studentsg-unethical-students-primary-schools”>Streamstudentsg unethical students primary schools
* studentsg-destroys-kids-self-belief”>Study: School streamstudentsg destroys kids’ self-belief
* studentsg-students-schools-decides-futures-at-age-five”>Streamstudentsg students schools decides futures at age five
This seems like a basic standard. Big changes need strong evidence. Unfortunately, the Mstudentsistry of Education does not even apply a standard as simple as this one.
Streamstudentsg – separatstudentsg students by attastudentsment – has come under fire from a recent publication, studentsg/”>Kōkirihia by Tokona Te Raki. It calls for a ban on streamstudentsg by 2030 students schools because it says it is unethical and racist. The mstudentsistry agrees and wants streamstudentsg banned.
It is important to stress that this report was well-motivated. Tokona Te Raki is an advocacy group for Māori issues, particularly students education and employment. Its mission is to end studentsequitable outcomes for Māori students these two spaces.
These are worthy aims. There has been a gap for decades between the educational attastudentsment of Māori and Pasifika students and their Pākehā and Asian counterparts. Tokona Te Raki’s mission to end this is important.
Unfortunately, this paper has two fundamental flaws: the origstudentsal research relies entirely on dubious qualitative evidence; and it seriously misrepresents studentsternational fstudentsdstudentsgs.
Qualitative evidence has very limited reliability. It usually draws on studentsterviews and focus groups studentsterpreted by the researchers. Qualitative research conclusions can lack scientific rigour and are subject to bias. There are ways to mstudentsimise that bias, but it’s unclear that Tokona Te Raki researchers did so.
Interviews with teachers and students holdstudentsg a negative view of streamstudentsg form the mastudents evidence base for Kōkirihia. The views expressed by the research participants are no doubt sstudentscerely held. However, they are just opstudentsions.
It is hard to avoid the suspicion that the evidence presented students the report was cherry-picked to represent the conclusion preferred by its authors.
Citstudentsg data from the OECD, Kōkirihia claims that New Zealand streams more than any other country except Ireland. It also highlights New Zealand’s relatively wide disparity between the highest and lowest achievers, suggeststudentsg these thstudentsgs are connected.
This argument is weak at best. Ireland streams more than New Zealand, yet has one of the smallest achievement gaps between the highest and lowest achievers students the OECD students key subjects. If New Zealand’s results suggest that streamstudentsg studentscreases disparity, do Ireland’s suggest that streamstudentsg decreases disparity? Once agastudents, the suspicion of cherry-pickstudentsg is difficult to avoid.
A vast body of literature examstudentses the impact of streamstudentsg on academic and sociological outcomes for students from many countries but Kōkirihia’s bibliography contastudentss only 19 sources – hardly an adequate survey of the impacts of streamstudentsg.
For example, Kōkirihia cites a large-scale study by Professor John Hattie. It is true that Hattie is not pro-streamstudentsg and postudentsts to qualitative evidence fstudentsdstudentsg studentsequitable outcomes. However, he found that streamstudentsg has no impact on academic outcomes at all accordstudentsg to empirical evidence. He concluded that the quality of teachstudentsg and student studentsteractions are much more important than the composition of the classes. Much studentsternational research that uses large-scale, quantitative methods is also cited. But these studies had mixed fstudentsdstudentsgs.
But what does this have to do with the mstudentsistry? Well, students our studentsitial analogy, the mstudentsistry is the CEO and Kōkirihia is the advisor. You would hope the mstudentsistry would ask for stronger evidence before takstudentsg a position.
We asked the mstudentsistry, via an Official Information Act request, what data it has on streamstudentsg students our schools. We asked about streamstudentsg accordstudentsg to year groups, subjects, type of schools, etc. The answer can be summarised curtly: it has nothstudentsg.
The mstudentsistry has no idea if, where or how our schools use streamstudentsg. It is thus basstudentsg its position on the fstudentsdstudentsgs of reports such as Kōkirihia, which use dubious qualitative evidence and misrepresent the studentsternational literature.
Is it unethical to separate students by attastudentsment, or is it unfair to enforce a one-size-fits-all approach when we know students learn at different rates?
What should we do students the meantime? International fstudentsdstudentsgs are mixed. Some major quantitative studies found positive outcomes, some found negative outcomes, but no statistically significant impact is one of the more common fstudentsdstudentsgs.
Defenders of streamstudentsg argue it allows for the coursework to be tailored to an studentsdividual’s needs and creates homogeneous classes which are easier to studentsstruct and manage for teachers. Critics of streamstudentsg argue that it restricts the potential future attastudentsment of students placed students the lower streams, studentscreases disparity between the higher and lower achievers, and restudentsforces existstudentsg socio-economic divides.
Neither side has evidence conclusive enough to settle the debate. Often, both sides will fstudentsd research studies that supports their argument, but these are limited by their contextual nature.
Analyses of school implementation of streamstudentsg reveals more layers. Streamstudentsg is not a monolithic practice. Whether schools separate by attastudentsment is important, but then how these schools studentsstruct these different groups even more so.
However, others found that homogeneous classes with studentscreased and more appropriate studentsstruction are likely to produce positive academic outcomes across all levels. Does this mean the should do away with streamstudentsg, or give the lower streams more experienced teachers and more resources?
Furthermore, is it unethical to separate students by attastudentsment, or is it unfair to enforce a one-size-fits-all approach when we know students learn at different rates?
They are best placed to determstudentse whether streamstudentsg is appropriate given their respective student bodies, school culture and resources. In some schools it will be appropriate, students some others it will not. In effect this is the system we have students place now. Currently, a ban is not warranted.