In his excellent book Finnish Lessons, Pasi Sahlberg explains the nature of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM). GERM adores testing, accountability, competition, and choice. GERM squeezes all joy out of learning. GERM treats educators as interchangeable parts with no wisdom. GERM relies on market mechanisms, which are totally inappropriate in education.

This is an email regularly published in Australia. It succinctly explains how Joel Klein persuaded the Australian minister of education that New York City had experienced a miraculous transformation: test more, hold teachers and principals accountable, close schools, open schools, and scores go through the roof. Australia is now following New York City’s model.

Unfortunately, no one informed the Australian government that the New York City miracle collapsed in the summer of 2010, when the New York State Education Department revealed that it had consistently lowered the cut score (the passing mark) on state tests. When the cut score was restored, test scores across the state plummeted. The New York City miracle evaporated. But Australia is still betting that it might work, even though it did not work in New York City.

This is from Phil Cullen’s Treehorn Express:


World rankings in PISA tests show that Australia has slipped from 2nd in 2000 to 7th in Reading in 2012; from 5th in Maths in 2003 to 13th in 2012; from 4th in Science in 2003 in Science to 7th in 2012.

While there has been no change in schooling operations in the ‘top five’ countries, the most significant change to Australian schooling has been the introduction of NAPLAN testing in 2008 at a cost of over half-a-billion dollars per year.

Despite the warnings from experienced world commentators, education academics and statistics specialists, Australia governments have persisted with protocols based on an urban New York system of schooling introduced by the federal government in 2008-9. The chief of the system in New York at the time was an influential lawyer, now heading a Murdoch-owned test-publishing and tech-ed enterprise. His efforts at transforming schools were less than successful on any terms.

The system has been described as high-stakes reform, based on standardised [one size fits all] modes of testing that have only tenuous links to evaluation of learning effort.

Experienced school educators [see LINKS below] insist that children learn best and achieve at their highest when their natural love for learning is fostered; and evaluation of effort and progress is part of the learning act. They see the fear-of-failure routines and the constant practice of past tests as preparation for a new one, as deleterious to child development.

The lack of public exposure of experience-based opinion and the embargoes on professional comment have also concerned former principals and teachers of state public schools. http://optoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces