Natiional Standards Solve Nothing

Hekia Parata has released the first statistics available from the collection of National Standards data and was able to claim that 76% of children in years 1-8 were above the Standard for reading, 72% were above the standard for Maths and 68% in writing. Given the flawed, unmoderated nature of the standards this is nothing more than a rough estimate that isn't far off what could have been estimated using other data. Parata also revealed that Maori and Pasifika children scored significantly lower with up to 46% of Pasifika children below or well below the standard and Maori children scoring 42% below for writing, 34% for reading and 38% for Maths.

Parata promoted the data as if we wouldn't have been aware of these concerns without National Standards and yet this knowledge has existed for many years and far more useful assessments have been used in the past to establish it. All National Standards does is give a broad idea of those above or below standards in three areas, with no qualitative detail on what specific areas cause lack of achievement of what teachers could do to address the deficits.

While National Standards has cost around $60 million to force onto schools many programmes designed to address the causes of underachievement have been under resourced or cut altogether. It seem extraordinary that Pasifika children were known to be a group that needed extra support and yet the Government has deliberately cut funding to Pasifika language nests and bilingual support. It has also under resourced Ka Hikitia which was designed to address Maori achievement in English medium schools.

The Government's cuts to the Ministry of Education has also had a direct impact on front line special education staff and resource teachers providing learning support are overwhelmed and underfunded.

The Campbell Live  TV item, that compared the lunches between a decile 10 and decile 1 school, starkly demonstrated one of the reasons many children may under perform at school. Poverty is a well established contributor to under achievement and yet any initiative to address this issue has been ignored by the government.

I'm sure there will be more announcements from Minister Parata regarding the "unique" revelations that the National Standards have uncovered, however they are not actually providing new knowledge and they won't make one jot of difference for the children who need immediate support.


Anonymous said…
I would beg to differ. Prior to National Standards I would head along to teacher interviews.... 'mumble mumble all fine'.

After National Standards the school where my kids go now reports against some nominal 'standard' against which my childs progress is measured in a range of subject areas.

So as a parent it I think it has been an excellent tool to enable me to stay more informed about how my children are progressing and to identify areas where I can try to help them out

I think parents not just teachers have a role in helping educate their children and NS have certainly been of benefit to me

bsprout said…
Don, what you are referring to is probably just good reporting and reflects more on what your school hadn't been doing before than anything to do with National Standards. Many parents found that the standard of reporting dropped in their schools after they had to follow NS models.

There is nothing contained in National Standards that couldn't have been done before, especially as the Standards were largely based on the Curriculum Learning Progressions that already existed.

The worst thing about National Standards is the over dominance of Literacy and Numeracy that has effectively killed the proper introduction of the New Zealand Curriculum. The teaching of learning areas such as Science and Technology has been seriously effected.

I was one of the writers for the new Ministry IEP document and I feel that it has an excellent model for building a collaboration between parents and teachers to support learning. For your school there had obviously been poor communication before and, while NS may have influenced a positive change in your situation, I can assure you that this wasn't a common occurrence in most schools.

I also deplore how the National Standards OTJ (overall teacher judgment) system (which does have some merits) is wrongfully being used to compare schools and teachers. This is an abomination!
Anonymous said…
Great post - may I repost on The Standard?

Anonymous said…


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