What they CLAIM; what we KNOW.

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]


“Creeping Eichmannism : A sort of spiritless, mechanical, abstract, functioning that relies on unquestioning orders from above and implementation of policy without questioning or dialogue.”

[Postman & Weingartner]



STOP PRESS  Queensland’s NAPLAN results were announced today [15/09/12] by the Courier Mail in a two-page spread that started with “Queensland has come third-last nationally on  the 2012 national literacy and numeracy tests.”  OMG. The rest of the article has to be read to the tune of “The William Tell Overture”   www.youtube.com/watch?v=BavRrRNvz8g  It concludes with a Q & A.

Q: What do we need to do?  A. Education expert Christopher Bantick said children need basic literacy and numeracy skills by the end of Year 2 and if hey didn’t have them, parents should ask why. He said parents need to demand more of the schools.”

…..and Beetle Bum… 


Reminder: Have you dropped a note to Mr. Pyne  c.pyne.mp@aph.gov.au asking him to reply to my email of 9 September, 2012?  Join the others who care about kids, please.

Treehorn’s friends from USA, Canada, New Zealand, Amsterdam, Mexico, Turkey!  Please join in and tell him that you too are anxious to know.

It could influence Australia’s future.



In a fascinating uncategorised article http://educationalchemy.com/2012/09/04/fast-food-educational-reviewing-the-facts-about-education-reform/ , the authors compare the claims of the high-stakes GERM/NAPLAN advocates against what is known about child growth and development applied to classroom behaviour, in tabular form. I’ve taken extensive liberties [Pp.5-8] with the arrangements to apply to conditions down under and present them to you for your consideration and comment.

The table is introduced : “We know that the crafters of GERM and its viruses, while they represent players from both sides of the political aisle, all of them actively support a corporate model of ‘reform’, the end goals of which are to : [a]privatize public education, [b] to transform schooling into a commodity for exploitation and corporate profits, and [c] to locate the control of public information in the hands of the few elite individuals and groups.

This is not a conspiracy. It is solidly evidenced in facts. [It has special political sponsorship in Australia.]

It is also known that the mainstream media, for political reasons, continue to evade reporting. Truth is replaced with emotionally charged rhetoric aimed at blindsiding parents to keep them from taking action or to resist the take-over of their children’s schooling. But, the truth can be found. It’s available.”

It is the unassailable right of parents to use their intellectual and economic privilege to investigate and comment upon their children’s schooling. Many will be surprised by what they discover.  Let the chart below be a start to their enquiry.


  WHAT THEY CLAIM                                                              WHAT WE KNOW

  Fear motivates children to learn.                                                                      

  • Yes it does. It has been used by tyrants, slave driver sand human monsters for aeons to bend the will of others for short-term goals.  When used on school children for intellectual endeavour, its damage has long-lasting effects. Its effects on individual’s intellectual and social psyche are always negative. Studies show that average group achievements on measureable school items rise slightly,  plateau;   and then decline… with lasting consequences.


GERM-based {NAPLAN} test results improve the quality of teaching. 

  • Anecdotal evidence indicates that teachers tend to revert or maintain heavy chalk-talk, paper-and-pencil, didactic techniques with an emphasis on practising for tests with rewards and punishments


Repeated testing improves student learning   

  • Repetition of non-creative tasks works with most animals. Parrots repeat words; monkeys tricks; humans both. Activities that concentrate on over-use of the left hemisphere of the brain, do so at risk to the right side.


Latest teachers’ evaluation/testing policies will inspire more rigor in classroom activities. 

  • High stakes testing has led to [1] cheating, [2] teaching to the test, [3] increased levels of student anxiety and depression.


Charter schools will create ‘choice’ and higher quality offerings. 

  • Corporate/private charter schools have NOT outperformed public schools in any testing in any locality known. Many have underperformed their public counterparts. Charter schools have also increased racial segregation. 


Charter schools are intended to “empower” parents.  

  • Parents are forced to send their children to poor performing charter schools or to send them to schools beyond their neighbourhood. Some charter schools can elect to refuse admission. Public schools are left  with those children who are the most difficult to teach.


GERM-style [NAPLAN] testing makes schools and teachers more accountable. 

  • NAPLAN test scores and student data are held by a third-party  organisation [ACARA], obtained under duress and used as it sees fit. Such storage and use is paid for with money that could have gone to schools. This data collection involves a cheap and seamless process that transforms learning outcomes into measurable chunks of big data needed to run schools as businesses. The information obtained is then used by test-publishers for quite enormous profit. The locus of accountability is chameleon.


“NAPLAN average scores for a school is a good indication of school performance.”   

  • Each child is different and their mood, when they mark bubbles on sheets of invalid and unreliable test items at a highly-charged, emotional moment in time, is a only reflection of how well they were drilled during test practice and the amount of time spent on practice. Such tests have little relevance to learning.


“Teachers use results to help them identify students who require challenges or additional support.” 

  • Any teacher who has been in charge of a class for a few weeks can predict the outcomes [pupil ranking and scores]of any test with a high level of accuracy. Confirmation at a later date is superfluous.


“Schools use results to identify strengths and weaknesses in teaching programs…”   

  • Principals control the school’s curriculum. They know the strengths and weaknesses of their staff and of classroom programs. Knowing both is their job. Outside controls that force them to breach professional ethics are an execration.


Primary schools are places used by politicians, measurers and corporations who believe that children are objects who attend school to achieve high scores in measureable aspects of     

* Reading mechanics;                         

* Writing

* Spelling

* Grammar            

* Punctuation   

* Numeracy        

Advanced world cultures expect that primary schools will:

  •  encourage curiosity and develop children’s natural desire to learn;
  • provide opportunities for children to observe, think critically, analyse information, reflect, discuss;
  • develop technical, manipulative, practical and intellectual skills;
  • foster aesthetic appreciation and creativity;
  • enable children to develop a set of values as a basis for understanding themselves and for making choices;
  • develop each individual’s unique form of learnacy;
  • help children to love learning for its own sake.


The original article contains endless empirical references to support its presentation.  There is also ample evidence in this Treehorn Express blog site.

“A child of 2012 should not attend a testing factory as many do. A primary school is an essential learning centre where those, skilled and knowledgeable in the nature of child learning, provide the opportunities for each individual child’s development. Children are human beings not items to be brutalised, averaged and scored for test results. They love,they laugh and they learn.”


It’s NAPLAN Scoring Week

NAPLAN scoring week was forewarned by the Courier Mail [14-09-12] with an article on cheating. Believe it.  The testucators have nailed a few test zealots.  Questionably,  ACARA says, “Cheating occurs when there is intent to gain an unfair advantage or improperly influence test results.”  Ergo: Are those schools that spend school  time, usurped from other curriculum areas to practise tests  ‘gaining an advantage’ or ‘influencing their school’s test results’?  Must be okay for some.  Very strange!  Shouldn’t mass cheating, such as this, be measured and ranked and made public according to the number of hours spent on practice ?  Shouldn’t possible clients know what kind of school they are going to attend?


THIS SUNDAY’S FEATURE: www.literacyeducators.com.au/docs/Say NO to NAPLAN.pdf

Because it is a special week, it is entirely appropriate that the comments by Australia’s renowned educators Professor Margaret Wu and literacy educator David Hornsby: “Inappropriate Uses of NAPLAN Results” and “Misleading Everyone with Statistics” be re-visited. Check your hard copy.     “ NAPLAN can only measure fragments of student achievement.” ; “For assessment to be relevant to teaching and learning, what is being assessed should match what is being taught.” ; “The tests are NOT diagnostic” ;  “ It cannot be used to make accurate decisions about student achievement or school performance.” ; “If results are being sent to parents, the margin of error should be plainly marked on the report and it should be explained.”

IMPORTANT READINGS:  https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com

True believers in the amazing array of abilities that school children possess might  try surfing through the side band for a reviver.

Recommended Links

[Gold Medal :ACEL]
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Educational Readings September 14th

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

Educational Readings
By Allan Alach
    It is very clear that education “GERM” based school ‘deform’ is an international agenda. The similarities of rhetoric and policies make that very clear, as the last item in this week’s list indicates. One very significant aspect is that these policies are not based on reputable educational research (there is a real dearth of educators supporting GERM) but on a set ideological path. Very strong evidence indicates that the corporate sector is driving this, not from an altruistic motivation, but to increase their profit streams. This means that GERM politicians are either deliberately selling children’s education to the corporates or that they are so ideologically blinded that that they cannot see what is happening, in which case I’d suggest that they are not fit for the job.
    There is another aspect to this that has slipped beneath the radar – behind the politicians there are people implementing the policies. In New Zealand, this is the Ministry of Education. While the Ministry is tasked with implementing government policy, I find it incongruous that this is being done by people charged with ensuring that the New Zealand education system works well for all learners. There has been a very definite change in the Ministry’s documentation since 2009, totally contradicting the previous very good focus on the New Zealand Curriculum.
    Something doesn’t ring true here and I wonder how many Ministry employees figuratively have trouble looking in the mirror every day. There is a real case, as suggested by one of the readings below, for education to be removed from political control. Our children’s futures are too important to be political playthings for the rich to increase their wealth.
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.
This week’s homework!
Warren Buffett Is Right: It’s Time to Ban Private Schools
What if I said to you that the solution to the problems in our education system would be to “make private schools illegal and assign every child to a [state] school by random lottery”?
That’s the view not of Karl Marx or the Chinese Communist Party but of the billionaire US investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett. The “Sage of Omaha” has been a longstanding campaigner for equality of opportunity and social mobility – and sees the existence of private schools as a major barrier to both. “
Outing ACT: Test-and-Punish Doesn’t Educate, but It’s Profitable for Testing Companies
“The testing fox is in the education henhouse and it is having a wonderful time. Take the mandated high-stakes tests, fall below an arbitrary cut score set by a secret formula and the consequences are life-changing. And not just for the kid. Standardized test scores raise and lower real-estate values, close treasured neighborhood schools, end the careers of experienced teachers, put enormous dents in school budgets, even call into question the value of the institution of public education.”
Get the picture?
The Secret Teacher: let’s free education from political control
Say no more…..
Alvin Toffler on Education
Yes, I know, this is not a reading…. worth watching though!
How Long Does It Take To Be a Teacher?
Much longer than 6 weeks, although deformers don’t understand this. Mind you this isn’t surprising, seeing as deformers don’t understand much at all about education.
Thousands Rally in Chicago Teachers’ Strike, Pushing Back Against Corporate-Backed Education Reform
A sign of the international nature of our battle – best wishes to Chicago teachers! May your struggles prevail.
Class warriors take on poor schools with education cuts
This Australian article discusses attacks on public school education in states with  Liberal Party (i.e right wing party) government. Readers from other countries may want to play ‘Snap’ with the similarities. Coincidence, of course…
Recommended Links
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Special Guest


The Treehorn Express

Bruce Hammonds of http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz [ Check his http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz/2012/09/creating-culture-of-creativity-for-new.html  It’s great.] called my attention to Tony Gurr’s recent posting on his http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com   We are all linked as you know.

Tony has given permission to reproduce it as a Treehorn Special . He says that Part 02 is better ….but you will find that both are excellent presentations.  Part 02 coming soon.

Do you ever wonder what NAPLAN supporters think when they read something like this?    NAPLAN is such a killer of healthy learning, one has to wonder. Are they so confused? Measurers and their ilk would be unable to comprehend, of course.

Yes, Tony. I did like the Wikipedia description of ‘engagement’.


By the way, have all Aussie Treehorn readers and their friends written to Christopher Pyne to ask him about [a] the evidence that indicates Australia’s backwardness; and/or [b] meaning of ‘robust curriculum’; and/or [c] freedom to principals, teachers & P&Cs to express their opinion; and/or [d] meaning of ‘teacher quality’ ?  On behalf of kids, please make sure that you and your friends do this. It’s so important.     A short courteous note to c.pyne.mp@aph.gov.au will do it.


Phil C.


LEARNer Engagement in a Culure of LEARNacy (Part 01)

by Tony Gurr

You can’t throw a rock into the educational blogosphere without hitting the word“engagement” these days. It’s been that way since the mid-1990s but the recent interest in 21st Century LEARNing (or the 21C Paradigm) means that it has got a much higher profile of late…


Today, in order to “compete” with the power of self-directed, edtech-enabled LEARNing, classroom TEACHers have to engageengageengage…and woe betide thee, Molly Woppy…if you are still using carrots n’ sticks to get your LEARNers to LEARN!

The problem is, in today’s brave new world of education, rapport just does not cut it – neither does a great curriculum or a great assessment matrixif we ever get round to creating these!

Engagement has become the educator’s best friend in the “war on motivation” (or the lack of it). The real problem (yes, you knew it was coming) is that we seem to throw the term around so frequently and loosely that for many TEACHers it has lost its meaning.



Is it just topics that LEARNers find “interesting” or activities that they “like” or work that allows them to “express” themselves – even…shock-horror…“having fun” in the classroom and “working with friends”?


Of course, it’s more…a lot more.

Check out this summary from WikiI must admit these guys are still impressing me with some of their stuff…but do not tell anyone I said that! This time, however, I’m going to focus on those elements that impact LEARNers and TEACHers…in the classroom.

And, what better place to start than with Carl Rogers…and his insight into the “real” meaning of engagement:

…he elaborates:

…he gives us even more:

Now, I have to admit…when I first saw this (as a younger teacher), I thought “No way…no way is that possible in the classroom”!

I guess I am not alone…


Rogers’ comments highlight many of the key elements that educational researchersstarted to hone in on in the mid-1990s:

…a holy trinity that seem to fuel a visible delight in the LEARNers – and a persistence orresilience that allows these LEARNers to “see things through” to “success” and “achievement”.

Now, you see why this scared the bejeebers out of me!


Now, some of you – familiar with the work of Dan Pink – will have picked up on that last word, the title of his 2009 book. Dan writes a great deal about the changing work of work or what he terms “21st century work”. His book, Drive, was summarised in a“twitter post” he made at the time the book was published:

Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomymastery and purpose. 

By which he meant (but could not fit into a 140-character tweet):

  • Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives.
  • Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters.
  • Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. 

Drive, of course, refers directly to “motivation” (more indirectly to “engagement” – the product of high levels of motivation), and Pink suggests that the keys to unlocking and sustaining this type of (intrinsic) motivation (at work, school and home) lie in focussing in on autonomymastery and purpose – the exact same thing that Carl Rogers was talking about.


Now, you might say – and would probably be very right to do so – Tony, surely this type of “engagement” is only possible out-of-school – when kids choose to “tune out” school and focus on things they “love”their “real” intereststheir own hobbies? 

The thing was that early research into classroom engagement did actually show that itwas possible in school…in the classroom. 

We started to see that those students that were “engaged” in their school work seemed to be “engergized” by successcuriosityoriginality and satisfying relationships.Richard Strong, Harvey Silver and Amy Robinson, for example, picked up on this and highlighted four core needs that these students seem to have – and explained them a bit more (we did not have twitter then):

  • Success – the need for “mastery” (not just grades or exam passes)
  • Curiosity – the need for “understanding” (not just “information” that has to be memorised)
  • Originality – the need for “self-expression” (not just be a “good student”)
  • Relationships – the need for “involvement with others” (not just be a “vessel”)

Obviously, all these elements basically touch on the issue of “motivation” and manyTEACHers realised that it might be a good idea to start looking at the things that they were already doing “right” – and discover a few more ways to build on these things. By asking questions like:

…and more reflective (and disorientating) questions like:

…that only the bravest of us ask!


All of them…great questions!


What these teachers were realising was that student engagement also came fromTEACHers engaging with their own TEACHing!

John Hattie, noted this:

He is right – on both counts!

BUTthere is another element!


TEACHers can improve LEARNer engagement by engaging LEARNers in conversations about what engages them. They can ask LEARNers to LEARN them! 

…through direct approaches vis-à-vis “motivation”: 

…and, also taking this…further: 

It is exactly these types of questions – suggested by Julia Flutter and Jean Rudduck (in this instance) – that start to pull LEARNers out of their more traditional role of“outsiders”…and help them assume the role of an “insider” – an insider in the very process of their own LEARNing…


Julia and Jean also take this a step further – in their 2004 book – when they describe a great model that captures the very essence of engagement. They maintain that schools have been getting it wrong for years and suggest that children at school are “hungry” for the 3Rs – responsibilityrespect and reality…and that teachers and schools can meet these needs by focussing on the 3Cs – choicechallenge and collaboration.

These 3Rs and 3Cs can be adapted into another group of questions that TEACHers can ask themselves:

…again, TEACHers engaging with their own TEACHing!


OK…so far, I have been doing most of the heavy-lifting in this post (or was that “heavy-asking”?) – let’s try a little task. Ask yourself those six questions inspired by Julia and Jean’s thunking – just give a “yea” or “nay”.


If you answered “yes”, try evidencing those answers with two other sets of questions:




…’cos we all need to LEARN how to do this better!


Now, I have just realised I have gone over my self-imposed word limit (again!)…and we haven’t got to LEARNacy…let alone the notion of a CULTURE of LEARNacy. 

I did say, at the very start of the post, this was Part 01 


I’ll leave you with one last question…a question that might hint at where we are going with this: 


…after all – we teach LEARNers, not COURSES – right?


Bedtime Reading:

Bedtime Reading (saved for Pt 02):

Comment    See all comments

Christopher Pyne: ‘Going backwards’

Hello there. On Sunday, while watching “Insiders’,  I was somewhat taken aback by a few statements of Mr. Christopher Pyne, Shadow Minister for Education. See below. I wrote to him immediately.  I have not received a reply, of course; nor an indication of receipt….nor should I have expected one.  That’s okay. I expected too much….only two days.  My sincere apologies to him for my holding such great expectations. I now want to share my actions with you, presuming that, you too, will be interested in the replies to my queries when they come; perhaps comment before or after.  I do have high hopes that Mr. Pyne is an anti-high-stakes testing person; and, like all of our fair-dinkum Aussie schoolies and parents, cares about kids.

Phil C.

The Treehorn Express

[Maintained by N.Z. educator Allan Alach]


“I call it NAPORN – it’s so obscene.”  [Jan Moroney]

Christopher Pyne : ‘Going Backwards’

When I heard Liberal Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne say, on Sunday’s ABC program “Insiders”, that student outcomes were going backwards, I was surprised. I had neither seen nor heard of any empirical evidence of this. I was perplexed. How much had ‘they’ deteriorated? Which particular outcomes? When was the evidence gathered? Was it proof that NAPLAN had failed or did it mean something else? I decided to write to him to clear this matter up as well as seek more detail about some of his references to curriculum, principal autonomy and teacher quality.

Here is what I wrote after I introduced myself as an experienced schoolie; and emailed it on the same day as the program: Sunday, 9 Sept.2012.


Dear Christopher Pyne,

I am hoping that NAPLAN testing, the most immoral, costly, dangerous, unnecessary, curriculum-destructive, fear-driven, child-stressing stunt ever introduced to Australian schools will disappear from the schooling landscape before I do. You will know its history of how it came to be introduced and implemented. I would encourage  you to become part of the history of its disappearance….for the sake of healthy and positive child development.

I am hoping that you will be the architect of its demise, not just because its banishment will be an election winner, but [1] for the sake of children’s natural desire to learn; [2] to escape from the prevailing push for mediocrity; [3] to push for limitless success and ‘achievement’ in all part of the schools curriculum; [4] Australia’s economic and social future.

I would seriously ask you to respond to the following queries without equivocation as I should like to be able to tell those who read The Treehorn Express in Australia and other countries that Australian children will be  in safe hands by the end of next year.  I’d like to tell them as soon as I can.  Treehorn has a sympathetic public here and overseas, especially in New Zealand and the U.S. [See world renowned educator, Diane Ravitch’s blog from yesterday – Saturday, 08-09-12 http://dianeravitch.net/2012/09/08/germ-outbrea-in-australia/ ]. We should lead the world by being the first to rid it of the GERM virus [NAPLAN] and the first to establish the greatest education system ever known to mankind. It is possible.

BUT … You worry me.

1. On this morning’s ABC program, “Insiders” you said, “Certainly, student outcomes have gone backwards over the past ten years.”

Would you kindly list your authority or authorities for saying this?  What outcomes ?  Literacy, numeracy. music, art, history, geography?  Were you referring to the crumbling effects of NAPLAN on literacy and numeracy according to scores on the Paris PISA occasional test ? If so. would you be so kind as to list the empirical evidence for your statement? Do you, by the way, trust the PISA numbers?

2. You have referred, more than once, to the need for a ‘robust curriculum’. What do you mean by this?  The term ‘curriculum’ usually refers to the ‘guidance of learners through learning experiences.’ Do you intend increasing the level of fear and threats now used on teachers and children that come with NAPLAN testing?

3. “Principal autonomy” also needs some explanation. At present, school principals are forbidden to comment on NAPLAN testing. Teachers are also forbidden and, now, the members of Parents and Citizens members in some states have to give such an undertaking or they will not be allowed on school premises. Will you free each group from such totalitarian demands as a first step towards autonomy?

4. “Teacher quality” is also a favourite expression in your ‘new reform’ repertoire. Will you or one of your writers please explain what you mean, without the use of numbers? There is a prevailing assumption that when Julia and her cohort mention this, they are pointing to those who can pass a numeracy and literacy test and, therefore, raise children’s scores on any kind of test. Did you have other qualities in mind.?  Most of us who have been there and done that, have.

Have you a plan to attract the best of the best to follow teaching as a career?

I am anxious to receive your reply and assure fair-dinkum schoolies, parents and children that their future is not as bleak as it is now.



A suggestion from Brian Cambourne.
Mr. Pyne’s email address is c.pyne.mp@aph.gov.au.
Please ask him to respond to your question about one or more of these issues.


Kids matter       Vote KIDS – NOT tests      Ban NAPLAN


Aussie politicians…..please….THINK kids….


THIS TUESDAY’S FEATURE : http://www.labour.org.nz/news/speech-education-a-lifetime-of-opportunities

I’m genuinely apolitical. I will vote for the party that promises to ban NAPLAN. That’s it.  I’m sure that there is a very large number of teachers and parents who feel the same way. [An informal vote it is, if I can’t find a party that cares about kids….cares about our future.] No party has yet expressed any interest in improving learning conditions for school children. They have had every opportunity to do so; but, each, so hung-up and confused by invalid scores and numbers, can’t!   It’s very serious.  All the ramblings in Australia about migrants and coal gas are minor issues. Decent schooling is our real future. The future goes for ever and ever.  You can’t put numbers on it.

New Zealand’s Leader of the Opposition, David Shearer, has something going for him. He’s thinking about schooling. Can Labour transfer him across the ditch? He’s sure needed here. While he didn’t say, as bluntly as he should have, that he would ban NZ’s ‘Standards’ tests, he went close.:-  “National  [The conservative ruling party] has spent the past four years trying to tell you that if we only measure the problem, things will get better.

Well, it wont. As the saying goes : ‘You can weigh a pig as much as you like; it won’t get any fatter.”

SPECIAL FEATURE : http://www.networkonnet.co.nz/index.php?section=latest&id=183

Kelvin Smythe, prominent NZ educator, comments, with cautious applause for the politician mentioned. “Labour has done something right at last and is onto something of a winner. [Listening Christopher?]  The beauty of what has been announced by Shearer is that it puts the ugliness and unhappiness of National’s [the ruling party – c.f. Australia’s Labor] education policies into stark relief. [Still listening Christopher?] Kelvin Smythe continues by quoting from David Shearer, deservedly NZ’s next Prime Minister, that its present government [Still listening Christopher?] is “…systematically undermining the very values that make our education system great.”[Yep Christopher. That’s what Julia has done. What’s your views?]

“And…we listened with stirring of hope in our hearts.”


“We need to shift the focus to children and not just the tests. Children need to shake hands with their brains and develop their emotional literacy in classrooms that are joyful.”

[Goldie Hawn]

Yes, Christopher!  Goldie! Are you listening?




   http://www.dianeravitch.net            http://www.marionbrady.com      http://susanohanian.org

  http://alfiekohn.org       http://essential.org        http://www.essential.schools.org    http://optoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces.com/


http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz       http://www.networkonnet.co.nz




http://literacyeducators.com.au        http://primaryschooling.net    http://treehornexpress.com/bridging-the-ditch




41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486


07 5524 6443




Tomorrow’s Primary School

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]


“Apes and maggots appearing in Hollywood films are better protected from stress than are children in public schools today.” [Susan Ohanian]


 Jan Moroney


Classes commence at 8.30 a.m. sharp and finish at 4.00 p.m.

The four-hour morning session will be devoted to Numeracy; the two and one-half hour afternoon session to Literacy. These allocations will alternate week by week.

There will be heavy concentration during these hours on the kinds of questions that NAPLAN testers ask. The focus is on doing well on the tests.

Traditional non-testable subjects will be on a voluntary after-school basis. [See below]


Tests of Literacy and Numeracy, on NAPLAN lines, will be conducted during the last three days of each calendar month, including May. Every class, including Year 1 and Prep classes, will be tested at these times. Results [both student and teacher] in order of accomplishment, will be published on the school’s website. The tests themselves will be available for practice at home.

Substantial achievement rewards will be given to the captains of the winning school houses – Kemp, Nelson, Gillard, Garrett – named after Australia’s Legends of Learning – at the end of each term.

On the first Friday of each month, State Department patrol officers, local banking personnel and business executives will be invited to conduct numeracy and literacy tests of Years 3 and 5. These tests and results will be published on the school’s website.

The names of the class teachers, in order of class scores achieved, will be published on a special honour roll each term. The contracts of those whose names appear in the lower quarter will be terminated at the end of the school year.

The school considers NAPLAN tests as a special contest between the school and the examiners. Extraordinary steps may be taken to  beat the testers.

School excursions are not allowed and  no ‘special days’ nor festivities are conducted within classrooms or in Revolution Hall. Anzac Day is an exception.

In line with the desires of our esteemed leader, our aim is to be constantly in the ‘top 5’.

The school takes no responsibility for the effects of high-stakes testing on children’s health.


Classes will be allocated to a teacher for the full school year. Each teacher will carry full responsibility for the test scores of their classroom.

There is no integration of teaching effort nor of subjects at this school. Maths is maths; Grammar is grammar; Spelling is spelling.

Activities are restricted to class rooms as much as possible.

Play-way and child-sponsored techniques that require the shifting of furniture are forbidden in the rooms. Teaching is test directed.  Silence is golden.

There is no collaboration nor friendly contest with neighbouring schools. They are opposition.


All test scores will be available to parents on the school’s web-site after each test.

The school will provide referrals to selected  tutoring firms that can provide extra help for low-scoring individuals.

Enrolment Procedures

Parents, whose children have previously attended another school, must supply previous NAPLAN scores. School premises are off-limits to parents who refuse to make them available.

An undertaking must be signed at the time of enrolment that no criticism of NAPLAN testing nor of the school-based assessment procedures will be made. If such a criticism is made, parents will be refused access to school property.

Traditional Pre-NAPLAN non-testable subjects

Revolution Hall, sporting fields and parts of the school building will be available for groups to conduct lessons in Singing, Art, Band or Orchestra practice, Sports, Religious Instruction, History, Geography and  LOTE. in after-school hours.  Conditions apply. A roster will be available in early February as to times and allocation of space. No school staff will be available for instructional purposes.

No equipment, including musical instruments and sporting equipment, can be housed on school property.

Applications for the use of dedicated sections of the school environment for instruction in subjects such as those listed above and approved by the school’s administration, close before the Christmas vacation commences.


K.Lein [Head]


Thank you, Jan. Seems like the ideal Gillard School. Your exaggerations have indications of the probable. You’ve ‘cut to the quick’.

If you started a school [Charter ?] with these rules in place and gave it a flash ‘learning-type’ name [e.g The Etonian Academy], there are parents who would flock to it.  So, make sure that you charge fees much higher than the most toffee-nosed one in the region, and you would end up richer than Murdoch.

I ‘appointed’ a principal to your school. Hope you don’t mind.

A fine description. Mission statement? Mission possible!

Phil C


Kids matter.                               Vote Kids  –  NOT Tests                              Ban NAPLAN


THIS SUNDAY’S FEATURE : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpW1hhnX17A&feature=player_embedded

This site mentions The Bartleby Project, which encourages American students to refuse peacefully to take standardised tests or to participate in any preparation for such tests. It’s working. Year 9 students, mostly, are writing on their test papers, when they are handed to them: “I prefer not to do this test” and to be quietly good-mannered and pleasant when queried about their reasons. The name “Bartleby” has interesting origins as you will see [ http://www.bartlebyproject.com/gatto.html ]. The project asks students to act ‘…because adults are chained to institutions and corporations; these tests pervert education, are disgracefully inaccurate, impose brutal stress without reason and poison the future of the nation.”

IMPORTANT READING : http://truth-out.org/news/item/11361-outing-act-test-and-punish-doesnt-educate-but-is-profitable-for-testing-copanies

“The testing fox is in the education henhouse and it is having a wonderful time.”

Australians and New Zealanders are slow to accept the notion that test publishers control our curriculum and our way of teaching/learning.  Marion Brady & Susan Ohanian predict that “Future historians…will have a difficult time unravelling the tangled weave of ideology, ignorance, hubris, secrecy, naiveté, greed and unexamined assumptions that contribute  to the [reform] catastrophe”. “Why would [an education system] hand its system of education to corporations, politicians and a wealthy guy who went to private schools?”

“Bill Gates. The Gates theory? America’s schools were ‘soft’; they needed to be ‘hard’ – rigorous.”  “His sales pitch for tough love has been phenomenally successful.”

“The message: ‘America is in big trouble. Be afraid. Scores must be raised.’ [Heard that song before, Aussies?] How? Well ACT,Inc. sells test prep materials…” 


                     “Teaching for test results tampers with the nature of childhood.”   [Chip Wood]

Sure does, Chip.



http://www.dianeravitch.net    www.literacyeducators.com.au

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz    www.networkonnet.co.nz

http://saveourschools.com.au http://primaryschooling.net

http://www.marionbrady.com   http://susanohanian.org

http://alfiekohn.org    http://www.essential.org


http://www.essential.schools.org     http://www.joebower.org




41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486


07 5524 6443



Educational Readings September 7th

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]
Educational Readings
By Allan Alach

Another week – where does time go? The usual smorgasbord of articles this week, with a couple looking at ICT (e-learning) and education. While I’m a great believer in the power of technology to really enhance/extend/enrich the learning process, it also seems to me that we are in danger of putting the cart before the horse, encouraged by those who see extra money. We know that the corporates and their deforming puppets in politics are promoting online teaching and assessment as the future. The agenda for this Education Innovative Summit 2013 tells us all we need to know. Doesn’t the summit have a great title? Sorry – look at the presenters, and spot the reputable educational researchers and experts.  

Contrary to this technological and profit driven approach, I believe that the richest and best learning originates from actual hands-on experience. This really came home to me the other day when I was watching an episode of the English archeology programme ‘Time Team’ which was based in the grounds of an English school. The children were fully engaged pushing the ground radar transmitter and having the results explained to them, cleaning pottery finds and other artifacts, examining remains of stone walls and so on, under the guidance of the archeologists. 
Naturally, their classroom time revolved around their experiences and learnings, illustrated through paintings, written work, research and so on. It struck me that there is no way that any technological experience, today and in the future, could ever replace the actual hands-on involvement in this, augmented by a range of sensory experiences.  Sure, technology has a very powerful role in enhancing this in ways not previously possible, but it can not replace it. 
The moral of this is that we need to be mindful not to be seduced by the ‘silicon snake oil’ ( a title of a book on this topic published a decade or so ago), or by those with a vested interest in peddling technology, and to keep real learning opportunities and experiences at the front of our pedagogy. 
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.
This week’s homework!

Our schools are being undermined by a constant rhetoric of decline.

Sound familiar? Which country do you think this article came from? Isn’t it ‘amazing’ how GERM politicians say the same things, regardless of country?


Teachers reject ‘pointless’ new phonics check
Something to look forward to, as the GERM infection spreads… Does ‘success’ in this count as ‘reading?’ 
Fast Food Education Reviewing the Facts about Education Reform
Written about ‘education deform’ in the USA, but very relevant in all GERM infected countries. This is the future unless……..
Read This and Share My Nausea
Here’s something that hadn’t occurred to me – the advantages, to ‘deformers’ of having a young inexperienced teacher cohort. Diane Ravitch explains.
Policy muddle stifles innovation
A blog article from Australia which will ring bells for educators in other infected countries.
The Tech-Driven Classroom Is Here, But Grades Are Mixed
Seems results are not matching the predicted outcomes.
Open University research explodes myth of ‘digital native’
Mark Prensky developed the digital native concept some years back, although he has moved a bit since then. This article goes further, to look at whether this framing has substance. 
Recommended Links
[Gold Medal :ACEL]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
41 Cominan Avenue                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443


Join the Stunt aka Crusade.

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]


Join the Stunt [aka Crusade]

It’s Julia’s crusade. It’s a race. “We have to be in the top five,” she says. “Join me.”     Laurie Oakes says that it’s a stunt.


Ms Gillard wants Australia to ‘face up to the truth’ of international league tables that puts us seventh for reading and science and 13th in maths” [CM 03-09-12]

…..and Cabbage leads by a head; Banana slips through the bunch; Girdle goes well in the stretch; Assault and Battery go head to head; and Mother-in-law is left nagging in the rear. [‘Spike’ Jones]…and  here comes Beetle Bum. [No disrespect intended]

It’s the Paris PISA Derby, so beloved by our PM with her fixation on placings chanted over and over by her loving party parrots, as if the placings meant something.


 Her Immenseness announced at the Press Club on Monday, 3 September that the next federal election will be about EducationGreat news.

There are two education issues…..

1. Funding for private and public schools.  2. Child development and mental health.


SHE says that Australian children must be [regardless of the serious threat to their over-all development and health] in the top 5 on the Paris Nerd’s PISA test by 2025. Although fixated by tests, no matter how unreliable and invalid they may be, she even said,  “..my heart is in the classroom”; “..it’s a moral wrong not to give children a better education”; “..put children first”.  Dear girl.

SHE warned the States, who used to run some outstanding schooling systems before her take-over, “They’ll have to step up, too!”      Watch out you can-dos and can’t dos.


Julia’s Platform for

Child Development


Mental Health

You will be voting  for these issues at the next federal election.

Schools will concentrate on teaching only the measureable parts of the curriculum that the Paris Pisa nerds measure.

Children’s fear of failing will be exploited to the fullest.

School time will be re-arranged to cater for test practice.

The curriculum will be rigid and cored.

Threats to teachers, schools and systems will be maintained.

Parents. principals, teachers and all on-campus personnel are forbidden to comment on any schooling issue. This will continue.

{If any federal member supports the above, say good-bye to your seat. Australia’s democracy is threatened by them.}




THIS TUESDAY’S FEATURE : www.treehornexpress.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/scores-scores-scores

It’s a recent Treehorn comment; explains PISA. It’s relevant.  Diane Ravitch’s 35000 readers also read it.

IMPORTANT READING: www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/duh.htm

Alfie Kohn lists “Ten Obvious Truths That We Should NOT Ignore”.

Must read if you have any doubts.





http://www.dianeravitch.net    www.literacyeducators.com.au

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz    www.networkonnet.co.nz

http://saveourschools.com.au http://primaryschooling.net

http://www.marionbrady.com   http://susanohanian.org

http://alfiekohn.org    http://www.essential.org


http://www.essential.schools.org     http://www.joebower.org





41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486


07 5524 6443




The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]



It was at a principal’s conference that a participant said to me. “It’s at a conference like this, that one comes along, confused. It’s the mark of a good conference when one goes away confused at a higher level.”

I’ve been to a few APPA Conferences – Darwin [ as key-note speaker with Ross Thomas and Barry McGaw both of whom were super speakers], Brisbane [where I had to speak about Janus, the two-faced fellow], Canberra, [which I had to open because Professor Manning Clark couldn’t get there] and Sydney [where I described the Queensland experience of how avid groups, moral campaigners at the time, funded by U.S lobbying groups like the John Birch Society and Moral Majority, can effectively lobby government members and have parts of the curriculum banned]. This Sydney speech had repercussions that I have detailed in Back to Drastics – Education, Politics and Bureaucracy in Queensland 1975-88 [USQ Faculty of Education 2006]. From each APPA conference I’ve come away, at least bewildered at a higher level. I’ve always been impressed.

Primary principals have a knack of running conferences that mean something. There is always an ‘atmosphere’ of common interest that picks up the theme and a spirit that enlivens the discussions that follow what speakers have to say. I’d suggest that it has something to do with principals’ hands-on experience at the work-face translating the topic to a ready-for-action mode. Thoughts have to entertain what happens in the classroom when someone, who doesn’t know, makes a decision that alters classroom behaviour and ruins the ‘performance’ culture of schooling….all interwoven with what the speaker has said. It can be a mind-blowing and disturbing period for thoughtful principals.

This coming APPA-NZPF September conference, combining the leadership of the eight Australian systems and New Zealand, should be a truly outstanding one. The theme, LEADING LEARNING, is so appropriate for this period of history. Australian schools are now under more robust government control of professional ethics than has ever occurred in the history of education. New Zealand isn’t free from similar controls [ http://www.networkonnet.co.nz/index.php?section=latest&id=380 ]In 2009, politicians introduced a fear-based learning system that has had a severe negative impact on curriculum, teaching strategies, teaching ethics and, worst of all, has dumbed-down each pupil’s desire to do better at the things they do at school. The difficulties of working under such a regime are enormous, especially for those who have to enact procedures that, they know, are counter to effective learning. There is nothing that the conference can do about it, but one can be sure that such things will be talked about. Each participant is sure to be provoked. I’d love to be a fly on the wall.

The conference will also be exciting because the keynote speakers are renowned, known for their forthright views. Pasi Sahlberg and Yong Zhao are two whose writings and video clips are favourites with Australian and New Zealand school folk. Whoever chose the speakers, was given wise counsel; or themselves were keen students of primary schooling as a discipline. The cv of each leader is worth checking and googling. Some of the articles really help readers to sort out their personal views. It would be developmental for each of us to do this; and then read what the world media have to say about the speeches of Andy Hargreaves, Kishore Mahbubani, Pasi Sahlberg and Yong Zhao. It’s an exciting prospect.



Nationally Absurd Program: Literature And



This program, introduced into Australia in 2009 by GERM advocates to undermine public trust in the role of state schools and line the pockets of rich publishers, relies on the use of numbers to describe schools, states and systems.

The absurdity of such political pranks is evident in the way that the public treats them. Here, in this list of a few years ago, we have a list of schools, each and every one a fine school, teaching its proud clients well, with some named and shamed on the basis of a ridiculously unreliable score on a ridiculously invalid, unrelated test. That’s blatant skulduggery; grossly dishonourable.. Those who approve of this NAPLAN scandal in any way should not be anywhere near school children. Notice how the non-professionals, beyond the schools, even averaged the scores: “The numbers provided are the total average of the school across the five categories of reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation and numeracy.” to conclude which school was best or worst. That means that spelling= numeracy. Wow. Notice too, how the unprofessionals, within the schools, said nothing about it to anybody. If your school supports the NAPLAN underhand, totalitarian principles, you need to think twice about sending your child there.

The sort of labelling you see is here to stay. Watch this space as this year’s crazy scores emerge. NA[for absurd]PLAN has to be banned, asap.

Does your local member approve of this sort of undermining of public trust, of using numbers to describe places of learning? Have you asked.?


FEATURE : http://primaryschooling.net/?page.id=231

This is a short appeal to Primary and Secondary school organisations in the hope that, one day, they will demand a real school-based revolution.

IMPORTANT READINGS : http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/aug/27/scotland-supports-publicy-funded-education?fb=nativedCMP=FBCNETTXT9038

We hear so little of Scotland, but “Here one find very little teacher-bashing and scant reference to market solutions to social problems….The Scottish government is moving towards greater school self-evaluation and has, over the past decade, slowly rolled out a progressive ‘curriculum for excellence’. in stark contrast to our own government’s speedily devised, overly prescriptive and increasingly contested programmes….Modesty and consensus-seeking are the hallmarks of Scotland’s approach, consistent with Scotland’s belief in ‘collaboration rather than competition’, and in marked contrast to the ‘quick fix’ grandstanding approach of GERM guerillas who deliberately seek to undermine public trust and confidence in the role of the state.

Scotland offers another model, celebrating both the possibilities of good government and education as a public good.”




“Testing is about politics. Some insist that it is technically necessary. Such people lack imagination about how to teach and how to run schools.” [Gene Glass]



http://www.dianeravitch.net    www.literacyeducators.com.au

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz    www.networkonnet.co.nz

http://saveourschools.com.au http://primaryschooling.net

http://www.marionbrady.com   http://susanohanian.org

http://alfiekohn.org    http://www.essential.org


http://www.essential.schools.org     http://www.joebower.org




41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486


07 5524 6443