Editorial: National Standards data shaky

By Dylan Thorne

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The implementation of National Standards can only be described as a disaster.

I was initially in favour of the system because I thought it would provide information to parents on how well a school was delivering the basics of education, literacy and numeracy.

The Government elected to allow schools to provide the information in different forms and this meant there was little uniformity. The information is at best variable.

The latest release of National Standards data shows an improvement in reading and writing but principals are sceptical about the findings.

According to the figures, 78 per cent of Bay students were at or above the National Standards for reading, 73.6 per cent for mathematics and 72.1 per cent for writing.

Ian Leckie, immediate-past president of the New Zealand Education Institute, says compiling data by region is "just nonsense" and results in "useless data" being released.

He says no one has a clue whether the information is accurate or not, because every school has its own way of providing the information.

In response, the Ministry of Education says the information provides a snapshot of how the education system is performing in the region and provides a basis that will help form a strategy to lift achievement.

The reaction from local principals speaks volumes.

The Ministry of Education could explain away its comments if the results were negative but let's not forget the latest report shows a positive lift in achievement in the Bay of Plenty.

The principals are - in effect - questioning data that suggests they are actually lifting achievement. The data collected for National Standards needs to be standardised or the system should be scrapped.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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