Warwick Elley (Inducted 1993)

Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Canterbury Auckland, New Zealand

Biographical Statement

Having been retired from my position at the University of Canterbury for over 20 years, I have slowed down on most fronts, and now travel much less than I would like.

My earlier work on raising literacy levels in third world countries was summarised in a themed edition of the "International Journal of Educational Research" for 2001, (Vol 35, No.2) for which I was the guest editor. Most of the articles were written by educators in each of the ten participating countries, with some editing from me. All projects showed pleasing gains and in several countries the ptrograms were expanded to all, or most of their schools.

During my retirement I have been fortunate enough to get on the mailing list of numerous aid agencies, and have visited and worked in many developing countries which I would never have expected to visit. In some of these places, I helped the local authorities to set up book floods, but more recently my work was focussed on improving testing and examination policies or evaluating new projects. In one case I was sponsored by the IRA (ILA?) to seve as a volunteer working on raising standards in a group of rural schools in Zambia in a project designed by the Childrens Fund.

In 2009 I had an aticle published in the "NewZealand Journal of Educational Studies",with Sereima Lumelume, (Vol 44, 1,pp 3-14)  which outlined our evaluation of a book flood in the Pacific Isalnds of Vanuatu, where I have worked on and off over the past 35 years..

In 2005, the international journal "Prospects" published an article I wrote on how the IEA's TIMSS-R Program contributed to the the improvement of education in 18 developing countries, following  financial support from World Bank which allowed these countries to participate. The reference is "Prospects", 35, 2, 199-212.

In recent years I have been participating in debates over the merits of Standards-Based Assessments and their impact on overall standards rnationally. I am sceptical about the claimed nenefits of this form of assessment, as the international surveys of achievemnet conducted every three years by OECD in their PISA program show a consistent decline in standards of literacy, mathematics and science in the countries which have adopted standards-based methods ; viz. Austarlia, Sweden, USA, UK, and New Zealand. In this connection I had an article in "the NZ Journal of Educational Studies" , 2005, 40, 1, 3-23, entitled "On the remarkable stability of student achievement over time" This stability makes a mockery of the results obtianed from year to year in national examinations in New Zealand. These results showed huge discepancies from year to year in the proportions of students gaining passes and excellent grades.. I have summarised the relevant PISA results, and probable reasons for the alarming declines in several countries in an article in the local journal, "The New Zealand Principal",  2014,  29, 1, 10-13, entitled  "What can PISA tell us about NCEA and national standards?"

My other professional interest is the development of standardised tests of reading achievement for New Zealand students. In the 1990s I created a new series of tests of reading for students in Years 3-9 which were designed for use early in the school year. These tests provided sub-test scores in word recognition, sentence comprehension, paragraph comprehension and vocabulary, with additional subtests for years 7-9 in the language of advertising and recognising different genres. These tests proved very popular in the schools and I was recently asked to revise and expand them, with support from staff at the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, who are responsible for printing and distributing them.

I am now on the verge of a second retirement to allow me to spend more time on the tennis court. I have represented New Zealand five times in the annual International Tennis Federation's Team event playing in various countries. Unfortunately there is as yet no competition for 85+ yrs teams, which may be just as well as my limbs and my results often tell me it is time to lower my sights..