Discovery: Poor kids don’t do as well as rich kids

The Treehorn Express

Prepared and presented by Phil Cullen,

proud anti-NAPLAN geriactivist thinking of kids.


Treehorn story?

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

Politicians : Is Finland on your itinerary for your next OS study trip?

Remember where Julia went? Please stay away from New York.



Big Discovery

The Courier Mail recently did an extensive print-out of the 2008-11 NAPLAN results. Consequential comments have aligned the scores from the one-hit tests with ‘good schools’ and ‘bad schools’.  The scores have been aligned with ICSEA [Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage] and….GUESS WHAT…. the ‘top schools’ are in the ‘better suburbs’ or are high-fees private schools.  Welcome to the world, CM.

As if we didn’t know that the USA push for saying ‘NO’ to its testing programs is calling “Fix poverty first!” [ Check ‘United Opt Out’. ] Australians knew this when they started the NAPLAN testing mania. It  emphasises the differences between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ and seems anxious to expand them.

Arch-measurer Professor Barry McGaw says “We want social background to matter less.” and “One way to do that is…the school’s which might otherwise claim they can’t do better because of their disadvantaged kids, actually set about achieving more with disadvantaged kids and in the end social background will make less difference if this works.”  Professor Barry, experienced teachers will tell you that teachers do care about disadvantagedness and they do —and have done forever….help poorer kids with their schooling as much as possible and more than most. If you are saying that the less well-off should give less time to playing games, football and netball practice, music, art, social studies and more to sweating about the narrow bits of Mathematics and English, experienced classroom folk will tell you where to go. Sorry Barry. If ACARA, as a well-funded QUANGO, has a recipe for reducing poverty to help kids pass its own one-off tests, it should share it.  If it can’t do this, it should try to prevent the press from promoting further divisiveness…or…cancel NAPLAN.


‘We had to destroy the village in order to save it’ 

An article by Robert Freeman How to Destroy Education While Making a Trillion Dollars of Sunday last, 29 April,  should be read alongside Marion Brady’s recent powerful message . Freeman says, ‘The single most powerful predictor of student performance is the average income of the zip code in which they live.’  So why do newspapers bother, really. The issue is very divisive.

The article opens: “The Vietnam War produced more than its share of iconic idiocies. Perhaps the most revelatory was the psychotic assertion of an army major explaining the U.S. bombing of the provincial hamlet of Ben Tre: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” If only such self-extinguishing claims were confined to military war.

The U.S. is ratcheting up a societal-level war on public education. At issue is whether we are going to make it better – build it into something estimable, a social asset that undergirds a noble and prosperous society – or whether we’re going to tear it down so that private investors can get their hands on the almost $1 trillion…’

Did you ever think that NAPLAN was instituted to help schools help kids learn ?  True? You know that Freeman’s comments apply to Australia and other GERM countries as much as it does to the US.


The launch of the booklet was highly successful and the outcomes better than anticipated. More and more parents are withdrawing their children from the NAPLAN tests….and the distribution of the booklet is only one day old!!  One mother said that she wants her daughter’s education to be ‘personalised not standardised’. A dad said that NAPLAN has shifted the heat of Year 12 exams to Year 3.

A dilemma. One mother was pleased with her Principal’s reaction and said that she [the principal] is allowing her to keep her two children at home!  The dilemma….shouldn’t the children attend  school, for normal class activities…even taught by the usual teacher?  What does a working mother do? I’d advise her to send her child to school as usual. NAPLAN is the interruption to everyday classroom learning, She’s not. Maybe the NAPLAN tests should even be held in some place other than the school.  Shouldn’t they if the classroom space is wanted for learning purposes?  Is there an ACARA ruling on this?…not that it knows much about school routines.

Then there is one mother who would feel embarrassed. Her son’s classmates are doing the test [their parents don’t care much about it] and he would feel ‘left out’.  Shame.

There is a growing movement in the US for the high school student-victims of their NCLB tests to write on their paper, “I do not wish to do this test.” If they are queried or badgered, the advice for them is to indicate politely that they do not wish to do the test.  That’s it. That should be sufficient and a serious-minded teacher would recognise this. Indeed,  one would hope that fair-dinkum Aussie teachers and principals would tell contestants before the test. “You have the right not to do this test. Please write this message on the front page of your test paper.” Does your Year 9 child know that he/she can do this?

The reports of badgering by school officers and of official  misinformation are disturbing. There should be no need for such storm-trooping forms of control.

Say NO to NAPLAN   It has nothing going for it.


Bumper Stickers

I’ve never ever had a bumper sticker on any car that I’ve owned. Now, I am looking forward to putting on one that says “Say NO to Naplan”.  Why? I want people to know that I’m on the side of kids in this assault on their learning abilities. I don’t want to see them treated the way that they are. They need to learn and achieve to the very limits.  I don’t have any other purpose. I don’t like the way that the national testing game is being played.  I want NAPLAN banned completely….no half-measures. Spend the billions, now wasted, on teacher preparation.

Are you on the side of kids?  I’ve ordered ten. Want one? Better hurry.


On the website  Allan Alach NZ primary principal has printed our recent letters to each other. Of course, we got the idea from the Diane Ravitch – Deborah Meier exchanges. If you wish to read ours …we talk about blanket testing, general schooling and general waffle…please make yourself at home. Comment if you wish. Click on Bridging the Ditch. We invite you to read our mail.


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


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