Driver testing…

I recall being impressed when my daughter sat a practice assessment for  a forthcoming full drivers test. This was conducted by a Driving Instructor, he gave comprehensive feedback on what she needed to pass the test. Given my daughter was over from the UK for only 2 weeks she had only one shot at getting her licence so undertaking a practice test was essential. A practice test is of course what we teachers call a formative assessment. A formal driving test is what we call a summative.

Interestingly, in a recent Radio NZ interview about high failure rates for driver tests one of the reasons discussed was that the tests, apparently student focussed (sound familiar), now require higher order thinking skills ie risk analysis and assessment rather that just mechanical driving skills. Again sound familiar?

Now, driving instructors do not test their students? Why? Conflict of interest. Yet we have teachers that instruct and test in schools (called Internals) albeit with moderation as the check and balance.

Do driver test agencies get more $ for student failure or success? Is there an incentive for testers to fail students for minor infringements? I am sure it doesn’t happen…. In a classroom exactly the opposite is true, that is, teachers/schools are rewarded for success as are students. I am sure of course that there is no collusion happening.

BTW My daughter passed first time.

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Leaving on a jet plane


There are a range of codes used to describe student absences. E for Explained eg “My daughter was too tired to come to school”; J for Justified eg “My daughter is sick”; ? for unknown, these become T for Truant if we don’t get an explanation within two weeks.

A new code has been introduced G for “Holiday during term time”. This is now becoming very common as airfares tend to be cheaper if purchased outside of school holidays. Shame it’s against the law but never mind… For Year 9 and 10 students the missed learning can usually be caught up in Year 11 as part of revision. But at Years 11-13 I am seeing students now withdrawing from standards because they are on holiday. Two further observations;

  1. Students seldom catch the work up.
  2. Students seldom do work on holiday – despite parent assurances and wishful thinking
  3. Some parents seem to think it’s the teachers problem to catch the students up – at lunchtimes or whenever… I don’t think so.

BTW: It’s the Ako (Form) teachers role to follow up on absences. Another administration job that teachers simply don’t have time for – it is done at the expense of lesson preparation and student feedback.

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NCEA achievement rates

I see NCEA achievement rates are back in the press. University enrolments have dropped… NZQA gives access to some interesting statistics however here are some questions I would like to investigate, but the data is not readily available: 1. What is the correlation between achievement rates for internal assessments and external assessments by  school and subject? Related question:  For  schools with a very high achievement rate, what % of credits are gained internally verses externally? 2. Universities have tightened entry standards, I see for Engineering courses at Victoria the entry requirements are:

If you are planning to enrol in a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) or Bachelor of Science in Computer Studies (BSc COMP), it is important to have a strong background of solid academic secondary school study. Subjects to study at school include Mathematics with Calculus, Physics, Statistics and Modelling, Computing, Science, and Digital Technologies.

What is the proportion of students studying the “hard” subjects listed above and has this gone up or down in recent years. I am guessing the answers to these questions could be uncomfortable….

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Parlez-vous Java? Sprechen Sie Python?


At least four states — including Washington, home of Microsoft Corp. — have either passed or considered measures that would delight high school students who have trouble rolling their r’s. Rather than taking Spanish to satisfy their foreign language requirement, they could take a computer language.  Source:

I often describe learning programming in terms of learning a foreign language. Perhaps computing should be moved within the language faculty :)

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Teaching teachers

I recently facilitated a discussion with a few Wellington based teachers about the Level 3 Achievement standard pertaining to Information Systems. In attendance was one motivated student from the Hutt intent on doing the standard and Peter Fuller from Datacom who kindly agreed to provide a current business perspective.  The standard requires you select and report on the information systems (or one of them) of an organisation. The report covers:

  • Interaction between the main components of an information system ie hardware, software, data, procedures, and people
  • Nature of information and differences between data, information, and knowledge
  • Characteristics of ‘good’ information.
  • Nature and Value of information and how information systems add value
  • End-user considerations in information systems and impact on and influence of end-user considerations on information systems
  • Security management for information systems and implications of security management for information systems

This can be quite challenging. It was great having a Datacom person able to participate – another good example of schools and businesses working together.

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Padlet ( is a great tool, easy and intuitive to use. I have placed links to a range of YouTube videos my Year 9 Digital Technologies class have used as part of their presentations on various IT issues (of their choice). Favorite ones appear to be “Live life the real way” and the “Dove beauty” videos.






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Purpose of education and role of teachers

Stephanie’s blog “setting-new-teachers-up-for-failure” resonated with me in a number of places. In particular her closing comments

“Throw in small class sizes, resources, a classroom assistant and not having to play social worker means that I can actually focus on what I trained to do, teach.”

Stephanie works in Singapore which explains much. Reading her blog reminded me of some work I had done on the purpose of education via Waikato University. The purpose of education is fraught but can be considered (at a simplistic level) a combination of: Socialization, Academic learning and Facilitation of natural development. Increasingly, however, schools are expected to provide pastoral care, baby sitting and in some cases feeding services. These are a long way from academic teaching and learning although arguably pastoral care and feeding are pre-requisites. The skills involved in providing what are essentially social welfare and caregiver services are quite a separate set of skills to those of teaching – in my opinion. Maybe we need more of both roles…


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