National Standards Defy Logic

Reading the published National Standards results in the Southland Times resulted in the following letter:

Dear Sir
The countries that have the highest educational performance do not use league tables. League tables turn the evaluations they are based on into "high stakes" assessments that do not focus on the broad needs of children. Teachers and schools will now give an inordinate amount of time to boosting the results in one area of our curriculum to the detriment of everything else. It saddens me that we will soon be changing our successful teaching and learning culture to that of education systems ranked well beneath us.

National Standards have provided us with some unmoderated and highly suspect data with which to compare schools and yet only two of the eight learning areas are covered and there is no reference to any of the following:
  • The number of children who have English as a second langauge.
  • The number of children who have disabilities (learning, physical or behavioural) and the ability of the school to meet those needs.
  • The range of cultural backgrounds within a school.
  • The number of transient children in a school.
  • The progress made by children while attending the school.
  • The other curriculum areas that are also important: Science, The Arts, Social Sciences, Technology, Health and Physical Education, Languages.
  • The Key Competencies that refer to the capabilities necessary for being a successful learner and citizen.
  • The levels of emotional and physical safety provided by the school.
  • The levels of parental and community support.
The $60 million+ that has been spent on establishing who is "below" or "well below" standard (as if we didn't already know) would have been better spent in actually helping them. What a catastrophic waste of time, effort and money!

Yours sincerely...


Shane Pleasance said…
"The Key Competencies that refer to the capabilities necessary for being a successful learner and citizen."

What are they?
bsprout said…
The Key Competencies:
using language, symbols, and texts
managing self
relating to others
participating and contributing


Thinking is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas. These processes can be applied to purposes such as developing understanding, making decisions, shaping actions, or constructing knowledge. Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of this competency.

Students who are competent thinkers and problem-solvers actively seek, use, and create knowledge. They reflect on their own learning, draw on personal knowledge and intuitions, ask questions, and challenge the basis of assumptions and perceptions.


Using language, symbols, and texts is about working with and making meaning of the codes in which knowledge is expressed. Languages and symbols are systems for representing and communicating information, experiences, and ideas. People use languages and symbols to produce texts of all kinds: written, oral/aural, and visual; informative and imaginative; informal and formal; mathematical, scientific, and technological.

Students who are competent users of language, symbols, and texts can interpret and use words, number, images, movement, metaphor, and technologies in a range of contexts. They recognise how choices of language, symbol, or text affect people’s understanding and the ways in which they respond to communications. They confidently use ICT (including, where appropriate, assistive technologies) to access and provide information and to communicate with others.


This competency is associated with self-motivation, a “can-do” attitude, and with students seeing themselves as capable learners. It is integral to self-assessment.

Students who manage themselves are enterprising, resourceful, reliable, and resilient. They establish personal goals, make plans, manage projects, and set high standards. They have strategies for meeting challenges. They know when to lead, when to follow, and when and how to act independently.


Relating to others is about interacting effectively with a diverse range of people in a variety of contexts. This competency includes the ability to listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, and share ideas.

Students who relate well to others are open to new learning and able to take different roles in different situations. They are aware of how their words and actions affect others. They know when it is appropriate to compete and when it is appropriate to co-operate. By working effectively together, they can come up with new approaches, ideas, and ways of thinking.


This competency is about being actively involved in communities. Communities include family, whānau, and school and those based, for example, on a common interest or culture. They may be drawn together for purposes such as learning, work, celebration, or recreation. They may be local, national, or global. This competency includes a capacity to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.

Students who participate and contribute in communities have a sense of belonging and the confidence to participate within new contexts. They understand the importance of balancing rights, roles, and responsibilities and of contributing to the quality and sustainability of social, cultural, physical, and economic environments.

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