The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story?

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’


VAM – Value Added Model.  It is coming to school near you, soon. It’s another Big Apple idea that Australia is sure to follow.   Our principals and teachers’ associations have allowed the entry of unethical NAPLAN blanket testing to be introduced into Australia in flagrant breach of professional ethics, so it serves them right if they are also valued according to pupils’ scores. They approved of  the purely-political fear-driven Klein system on which NAPLAN is based for no good reason,…probably because we follow the Yanks in anything they tell us to follow. Devoid of useful learning ideas ourselves, our Yank-happy educrats and administrative sciolists make sure that we do as we are told.  Joel Klein told Julia G. at a cocktail party that she should copy the failing New York system….and BAM….we have it.

NAPLAN, on its own, assures us that, by the year 2030 or so , judged by the then more sophisticated models of judgement than the world has at present, Australia will, for sure, run second-last in any contest of school achievement or general accomplishment. America [New York  especially] will be last, but we will still be copying their ideas about numbers, scores and intellectual combat. Will VAM hasten our demise?  Sure as shootin’.

VAM is based on the principle that if your class scores are lower this year than they were last year, you are a poor teacher, and will be named and shamed. Believe it. Like it? This is no fairy tale.

Thinking teachers, I suspect, would never have believed that they would ever see the day when they would be judged, praised and pilloried by children’s high-stakes, blanket test-score results. Believe it…and Australian educrats, principals’ associations and political wonks will be easily rounded up [as they were when Her Fuhrership introduced the Klein system] and they will comply. You can bet on it. They sold their soul when they failed to protect the Rights of the Child and allowed the hideous NAPLAN blanket testing idea to cross the equator. Judging teachers by test results will be next.

Where is Matthew Arnold when you need him?

Linda Darling-Hammond, a recent visitor to Australia whose advice when she was here, like Pasi Sahlberg’s, was comprehensively ignored [we prefer to listen and believe hard-core measurers] tells the story of New York City’s ‘worst teacher’ singled out by the New York Post, bombarded by questions as to why she had little skill or commitment; and chased to her father’s home to tell him that she was a bad teacher. Turns out, she was an experienced and much-admired teacher. The measurers and scorers aren’t able to tell much about fair-dinkum teaching,and the press does not know enough nor bothers.  If Aussie teachers want this sort of assault on their profession….!!!…count me out.

Prof. Jack Hassard, of Georgis State Uni says, “The education policy wonks actually believe that they can measure a teacher’s effect on student achievement gains without taking into consideration other significant variables.” So do ours, Professor Jack; and they like to pillory recusants or

Why not try out VAM, you ask?  Do we, every-day, true-blue Aussie teachers, also believe ….that….if kids do better when you frighten them, teachers will also do better when threatened?   Do we trust our non-teaching measurers to get it right?  Our politicians, professional associations and unions will not ask any questions why the teaching/learning activities required for sparkling classrooms full of joy and achievement do better on all sorts of evaluation.  London to a brick, they’ll just approve of what ACARA says. Just watch.



In preparing this article I had reached this point, when [Sunday, 11 March. 7 p.m. ABC News] it was announced by the NSW Premier that teachers in his state would be paid according to results of pupils’ tests!! I don’t wish to edit what I have said above. The message there still applies. I presume that principals and teachers will comply as usual after a short whimper of shock/horror. It’s sad news for you, kids…we do that. That’s why you are slogging it out now in your cheating practices for the May tests. Treehorn had it right : Adults don’t care much about kids..

At almost the same time, I received a short article from Allan Alach that carried the same date. Check it out. It says a lot about VAM and today’s announcement.


Why Would Any Sane Person Want to Teach?

Steve Wilson [Huff Post Education 11 March 2012]

In discussing VAM and its labelling of teachers, Steve Wilson says…

“This data-driven drivel is sucking the heart out of teaching and learning.  If politicians or policy makers want to know who the good teachers are, they might spend some time in schools and watch the magical ones at work. The kids know who’s good. Any principal worth her salt knows who’s good. Teachers don’t need metrics-driven scolding or public humiliation. They need good facilities, small classes, books and materials, professional development and moral support. This takes money, but all the big talkers refuse to spend any [on the right things]. It is, as I have sometimes quipped, as though policy makers think Hansel and Gretel will get stronger just by being weighed more often.”

Again :  “This data-driven drivel is sucking the heart out of teaching and learning.”   Amen.

Sorry Treehorn. Sorry kids.



1. Open own facebook page.       2. Tick : “Keep me logged in.”       3. Open     {Apologies for previous confusion. }       Have your say,  although I’m still having trouble.

If you have 4 minutes 17 seconds to spare from your busy schedule, click on the theme song “Care for Kids” above, relax and ‘take in’ the words. Meditate on the plight of today’s generation of Aussie kids.

OtherTreehorns ? :   Check Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443


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