My Feedback on the TEC Refresh of the Literacy and Numeracy Implementation Strategy


TEC

Ignore this if it’s not interesting to you. I’ve pasted in below my responses to the TEC’s request for feedback on their proposed refresh to the Literacy and Numeracy Implementation Strategy.

I better also make the following disclaimer: We receive funding from the TEC via our training organisation ALEC to subsidise delivery of professional development to tutors in the form of the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational).

I already wrote about this consultation here. The document that this feedback relates to is available here online: The TEC questions are on the left and my responses are on the right.

Opinions are spelling mistakes are entirely my own and I take no responsibility for them whatsoever.

Feedback form for first section of Consultation Paper (pages 3-7)

Feedback question Your feedback
Context and operating environment
Is there anything else the TEC should think about in terms of the operating environment for adult literacy and numeracy? ·       Don’t forget that the update to the ALL Survey (2006) will be available to inform this work probably from 2016. This is also likely to inform the big picture operating environment.

·       What I don’t see here is hard data from 100,000+ assessment tool assessments giving us any kind of generalisations about where we are at as a country in terms of LN strengths, weaknesses, and capability

·       I agree that the definitions are fit for purpose. Also digital literacy and use of technology etc still work within these definitions even though they are not explicitly mentioned. For me, digital media are a context that LN can be embedded into. This is also justification to keep it out of the learning progressions, i.e. it’s more like a content area. Yes to parag.16. Any mention of the PIAAC should reference this as well.

·       You should check with the NZQA re the names of the TroQ approved replacements to the NCALNE quals and mentioned them by name here (as well as the existing ones). These are national quals so they deserve a mention.

·       I also see the NCALNE (Voc) and subsequent replacement qualification as part of the infrastructure as well due to its role in promoting all other aspects: tool, pathways, embedded approach etc

Do you agree with the feedback received about the high-level operating environment over the past few years (paragraphs 22-26)?

Why, or why not?

·       Agree. But I’m not really sure that much new actual research has happened in recent years. Some meta literature reviews and action research etc, but not much in the way of empirical research to check what is working and what is not.

·       Agree with need for flexibilty as per 24.

·       The biggest issue we face as an NCALNE provider is trying to compete against larger SAC funded organisations like MIT who offer “free NCALNE” training. Actually, we can’t compete against this, and we’ve expressed this to the TEC in other correspondence. The current grants subsidse a portion of the training, but we still need to charge fees to make it viable.

·       I think that, in general, congratulations are in order actually, re the success of the current strategy. Well done TEC and everyone who has worked hard in these areas over the last few years!

Scope of Strategy
Do you agree with the proposed scope? Why, or why not? ·       Yes. I think you can reference digital literacy etc (see the PIAAC), and then keep the focus on the basics. Financial, digital, health, community, whanau, and cultural contexts are all exactly that… contexts for embedding literacy and numeracy into. It’s prudent to keep these contexts separate here. Then it’s up to providers to select the appropriate contexts and embed LN into them. Otherwise, LN will mean anything, confusion will reign, and we’ll be taking a backwards step. Placing limits around the scope and definitions here should help providers focus on our own special character and unique contexts.
Do you have suggestions for improving the proposed scope? How would they improve it? ·       See above
Do you have suggestions for possible success indicators in the refreshed Strategy? ·       Obvious success indicators should probably relate to visible progression as per the TEC assessment tool. These should be seen over the longer term however. E.g. it’s possible that anything less than a year is too short to expect to see LN gains from some learners. What if the progress tracked the student and stayed with the student, as opposed to being tied to the class or course or institution? E.g. measure the progress of a learner over a much longer period as they move across different classes and courses and eventually (hopefully) into work.

·       I’m not sure how to turn this into a success indicator, but many of our NCALNE candidates report short term gains in very narrow areas of LN in trades as part of their project work with us (which is also usually over 4 to 6 months). In addition, they often report changes in learner self efficacy, attitude, confidence. These are soft measures, but it would be great to have some way of quantifying this. Also, along these lines we often see our NCALNE candidates starting to teach and implement LN practices. These practices don’t always translate into immediate gains. However, they are possibly a precusor to gains. This is just anecdotal and my own observation, but I suspect that the Assessment Tool on it’s own would not give the full picture for some students who are in the process of making a shift, but where the emphasis is on their learning LN practices rather than their actual proficiency I think you would see improvements here in the short term.

·       Number of NCALNE qualified tutors per funded class and overall per organisation would be one measure of success. This is critical to the TEC sanctions around funding SAC courses at levels 1 and 2. If you don’t know how many tutors are appropriately qualified you can’t have any confidence in whether the organisation is meeting their contractual requirements.

·       YG tutors should also be required to have the NCALNE as well. Numbers of these tutors would be another measure.

·       Qualified tutor churn factor would be an interesting measure as well. Many tutors get qualified but fail to stay in the job. Why? How many? What’s the churn rate? This impacts on future funding for professional development as well as workplod and how well tutors are managed internally by organisations.

·       Some national measure of overall big picture LN improvement or loss would be a good success factor.

Framework and structure of Strategy
Do you agree with this framework and structure? ·      Yes
Do you have suggestions for improving the proposed framework and structure? How would they improve it?

 

Feedback form for Educational Resources workstream (pages 8-9)

Feedback question Your feedback
Learning Progressions
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes. The Progressions aren’t perfect but it’s up to educators and industry specialists to adapt them to their contexts. They work across all contexts that we work with. This is a training issue in my opinion. It’s also up to individuals and groups to take ownership of the progressions and adapt to their own purposes as appropriate.
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       The alignment chart is a bit of a slippery slope as it encourages different systems to be compared that were never intended to be compared. I appreciate this work, but I don’t discuss it unless I really need to. It is useful though to discuss the NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements in terms of the progressions.

·       They may need an update at some stage, especially the literacy progressions which I don’t think are as clear as the numeracy progressions.

Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       Problem: The online versions of the Progressions are buried in the pages of the National Centre website. This is a signal versus noise problem.

·       Solution: Spin off the progressions into their own website with just the progressions resources and none of the other noise. I think people would use them more. Should be something like: www.learningprogressionsforadultLN.com or similar

Assessment Tool
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes. But especially kudos to Ben Gardiner who is the face (or voice on the phone) of the tool for many people.
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Yes to using the tool in secondary settings. This is vital to address the issues around poor assessment of NCEA literacy and numeracy that seems to be happening and is glaringly obvious when these students join a trades course (e.g. “you should be able to do this! You’ve passed NCEA literacy and numeracy which is step 4 and 5 on the progressions…)

·       Yes to better (or any public) use of the aggregate data. E.g. from a training point of view I would rather reference this aggregate data to set the scene for the NCALNE instead of the older ALLS 2006 or even the new PIAAC.

Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       What about allowing tutors to cherry pick LN microskills from the tool results for a group or individual and craft them into a contextualised individual learning plan? I have a format for this if you are interested and it would connect with the goals of the NCALNE
Pathways Awarua
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes. Kudos to Gill Thomas and team. We promote Pathways Awarua everywhere we go. This is a valuable resource.
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Yes to all.
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       What about a separate landing page for the professional development side of things? The back end could remain the same but the alternative front page could highlight the TEC supported NCALNE pathway that exists inside. = increased visibility and ease of sign up for new tutors.

·       Add digital versions of of the “attitudes” surveys for reading, numeracy, and other areas that tutors can assign to learners and collect pre and post scores over time. It’s self perceptions of learners but still really useful as a measure over time.

·       Continue to develop and support the professional development of tutors through Pathways Awarua NCALNE pathways and similar content


 

Feedback form for Learning Opportunities workstream (pages 10-12)

Feedback question Your feedback
Embedded literacy and numeracy (ELN)
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Agree. But what are these stories of the positive benefits mentioned here? Can you collect and publish them? Or even better, record high quality video and upload to YouTube?
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       You should add the existing TEC requirement for SAC levels 1 and 2 tutors to have the NCALNE as a minimum qualification. Otherwise, how can you start to ensure your current bullet point.
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       Continue to support and fund the NCALNE (Voc) and related professional development of the sector
Specific literacy and numeracy funds
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Increase flexibility
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       Investigate any links between higher qualified teaching staff and learner success. In other words, it’s harder to teach low level LN learners and staff should be more qualified accordingly. It’s not a baby sitting job.
Workplace focus
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·

 

Feedback form for Professional Development workstream (pages 13-15)

Feedback question Your feedback
Improving tertiary workforce capability
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes. I’m not really sure how visible this work is. Also, I don’t see the whole picture, but it seems to hinge on one or two highly proficient operators rather than the Centre as a whole.
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Yes… addressing the churn factor could be useful.
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       The website is not engaging. I’m not sure that people use it. I think you should separate out the Learning Progressions content so it’s not buried.

·       Carrying out research could be useful too.

Training in the workplace
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes.
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       These educators have access to the online NCALNE pathway as well. However, many are self-employed contractors. Again, this is anecdotal, but from what I hear contractors seem to have to pay for this PD out of their own pockets (as opposed to the PTE that is hiring them). I’d put pressure on the organisations to foot the bill for any PD related costs as it’s their compliance issue. If the contractors have to pay, it comes out of their own pockets so they are relunctant to do it.
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·
Literacy and numeracy qualifications
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes. TEOs will always drag their heels. But they are compliance driven too, so this is the most effective way to deal with them. Sanctions on funded training should also be the follow up.
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       The ESOL connection needs teasing out… what exactly are we talking about here? Is it WPL programmes with ESOL learners? Is it SAC funded courses with a few ESOL learners? Are we talking about classes full of ESOL learners learning ESOL? There are a lot of different contexts here. Anyone working with large numbers of ESOL learners in a dedicated ESOL context should probably go and get a specific ESOL-related qualification and specific training (e.g. at least the CELTA, but preferably something NZ-based at Diploma level or above). Low literacy is not the same as ESOL, but there is a lot of crossover in approaches. I can qualify these comments by saying that my Masters degree is in applied linguistics and language teaching.

·       Yes to ensuring that foundation level tutors hold appropriate quals, e.g. the NCALNE

·       Re 44 I’d need to see some great examples to feel confident about this. Pathways Awarua seems a better platform for dissemination of online resources and training that directly supports tutors delivering ELN on the front lines.

Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       I don’t think ESOL quals are equivalent to NCALNE quals. I think that while there is good crossover in approaches, they are different things. An ESOL qual is never going to provide the baseline knowledge and skills required to understand and use the infrastructure that we have in NZ to strengthen literacy and numeracy, such as the learning progressions and assessment tool. I recommend that practitioners involved workplace literacy with heavy ESOL needs have quals in both areas. I strongly advise to keep these content areas separate.

·       Re 46. We would love to provide NCALNE training to these same educators if it was appropriate, following their engagement with Ako Aotearoa.

 

Feedback form for Addressing specific learner needs workstream (p 16-17)

Feedback question Your feedback
Māori learners
What do you think of what was suggested? ·       Yes, but ensure a diversity of providers so that no one particular provider can monopolise this work
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Building options in the Assessment tool
Are there other things we should think about doing?

We welcome your ideas and suggestions.

·       Content in Pathways Awarua
Pasifika learners
What do you think of what was suggested? ·       Yes
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·
Are there other things we should think about doing?

We welcome your ideas and suggestions.

·       We need to NCALNE more Pacific tutors in all areas
Learners new to New Zealand
What do you think of what was suggested? ·       Yes
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Extend Assessment tool.
Are there other things we should think about doing?

We welcome your ideas and suggestions.

·       Get a better vocabulary assessment in place. The current version doesn’t really give a good indication of where someone is at. Contact Paul Nation at Victoria University about using his system for vocabulary assessment based on word frequency levels for vocabulary assessment. It’s research-based, well established internationally, and works really well for ESOL and for first language literacy as well. There is research suggesting that you can link vocab scores in this system to academic success as well. This frequency level approach to vocabulary is missing from the Progressions as well, although you can kind of drop it in over the top. It works in terms of building blocks like the numeracy progressions, so it’s more accurate and better to work with for tutors. I feel very strongly about this direction and recommended the approach above in my feedback to the initial draft of the Learning Progressions as well as at other times.
Adults with learning difficulties
What do you think of what was suggested? ·       Sure
Are there other things we should think about doing?

We welcome your ideas and suggestions.

·       Isn’t there already lots of research around dyslexia? What is missing is resources for tutors to use. Most importantly, tutors would like simple tools to diagnose dyslexia from a non-expert point of view. Next, they would like practical things that they can do to intervene and assist learners with this disability. There is a mystique around this that needs to be dispelled. Some dyslexia experts and researchers seem to leave mainstrean tutors under the impression that only expensive private intervention by experts who won’t freely share their knowledge is the only option. Online video content of diagnostic processes and best practice interventions would be a good resource to share. You are wasting your money unless you spend it on highly practical tools for highly practical tutors.

Feedback form for Cross-government collaboration workstream (p18-21)

Feedback question Your feedback
Work together and better with other parts of government
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes. Knowledge here tends to be in silos. For example, I’m not sure that NZQA evaluators are aware of the TEC compliance around tutors having to have the NCALNE qualification for SAC 1 and 2. This should be built into the evaluation process.

·       Also, NZQA direction on the revised LN qualifications was at odds with TEC strategy and national initiatives to professionally develop the sector. Again, people were working in silos and this causes unnecessary conflict. In this case, the TEC knowledge around practitioner development and the connections to the current strategy and wider PD should have informed NZQA’s processes from the start as they are mandated by the Minister.

What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       NZQA Evaluators need awareness of mature embedded LN best practice as well as NCALNE qualifications and TEC strategy so that this can be folded into their evaluation work with PTEs and ITPs.
Continue increasing research and evidence base
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes. Unpack big data. I have nothing really from this data set that I can talk about to set the scene for tutor professional development. What I want is NZ specific information on LN proficiency broken down in sensible ways an for different demographics. I want to be able to say things like: “Here’s where we were a year ago, here’s where we are now, and here’s where we need to be”
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Yes to the research directions especially in small business contexts if you want these people to access WLP funding. Small business drive this country. We need to help them.
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       Fund independent research
Incorporating broader outcomes relating to adult literacy and numeracy
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Yes to investigating ways of measuring changes, especially over the short term. I’d like for our graduates to be able to measure things like confidence and task completion in their learners and when they report to us for the project work they do. If you could standardise this approach, even though the data is “soft” it would go together nicely with the hard data from the AT.

·       There is a grammatical mistake here: “willingness to communication” – second paragraph

Are there other suggested actions we should think about?  
Improving the secondary-tertiary interface
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       Yes, but be aware that this is a potentially entrenched group to work with. They hate change worse than tutors in the tertiary sector. This needs some clver thought around how to “sell” it.
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Implement the Youth version of the AT from Year 11 at least across pre-trades, but potentially across all subject areas.

·       Require scores of Step 4 for Reading and Step 5 for Numeracy as one compulsory measure when compiling evidence assessment against NCEA level one LN unit standards (and perhaps achievement standards too). Honestly, it’s embarassing to try and explain to tutors why their NCEA qualified students can’t read or do maths to the level that their NCEA standards indicate and that the tutors require for trades (usually LN across steps 4, 5, 6 involving technical language and calculations,)

Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       Consider PD training for secondary school teachers along the lines of the NCALNE (Voc) or at least for the AT. You need to think hard about how to “sell” LN to high school teachers. We’re talking resistance similar to what we experienced in 2006 and 2007 when this work first kicked off in the tertiary sector. Expect 7 – 8 years of struggle to get buy in.

·       If you really want seamless interventions across high school and tertiary for trades and vocational training then we need to look at NCALNE training for secondary teachers in these fields.

Promoting literacy and numeracy to citizens, communities, and employers
Do you agree with what was said? Why, or why not? ·       This is tricky. I’ve also wondered for years about the effectiveness of a national campaign around LN (similar to the mental health awareness campaigns). I don’t have a good answer or solution. A clever video-based social media campaign using Facebook might be worth looking into. TV, print media and radio are a waste of money and not designed to produce any measurable outcomes to guage return on investment. Google ads or Facebook Ads or Youtube content on the other hand would allow this kind of data analysis.
What are the most important suggestions we should act on? Why? ·       Better online content. Separate out the Learning Progressions online content. Better to just make one website do one job (and have multiple websites). This is part of the confusion around using the NCLANA website, it’s unclear what it’s for: Is it to support the qualification delivery? Is it an online repository of resources? Is it for specific LN purposes? Is it for the Learning Progressions. Is it support for the assessment tool? If you’re going to have “one-stop shops”, then each website needs to be a “one stop shop” for a very clearly defined and specific purpose. E.g. a one stop shop for: the Learning Progressions, the Assessment Tool, WPL, Tutor support resources, etc… Websites are cheap now. Better to break the content up so that people are clear on what they are accessing.
Are there other suggested actions we should think about? ·       We’ve done a bad job of selling LN over the last 10 years. Many non experts who do know about it still think it’s complicated and scary. We need to work hard to make it accessible and understandable. There will always be some complexity but we need better ways of selling it to everyone that we work with and talk to. Academics in this field are often incomprehensible to tutors. In other fields this doesn’t feel so hypocritical, but when the subject is literacy…

·       I agree with points 59 and 60. Video content please. Youtube. Hire a design team. Contract this out to people who understand campaigns like this. Don’t leave this to academics.

 

 

 

An opportunity for final overall comments

If you were the TEC, what would be the three most important suggested actions you would carry out in 2016?

(They can include suggestions already in the Consultation Paper as well as your additional ones)

·       Continue to support tutor professional development at the level of their students, courses, and programmes especially via the NCALNE and other similar training.

·       Continue to invest into effective online resources like Pathways Awarua.

·       Continue to work with the NZQA to increase understanding on both sides re this strategy and the national infrastructure for ELN

Why have you chosen these three actions? ·       This is where my work intersects with this strategy the most
Are there any other areas that we’ve missed or other comments that you would like to add? ·
Do you have any overall feedback on the Consultation Paper, and/or the Strategy refresh process? ·       Thanks for the opportunity to contribute

 

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