Confusion over education league tables

By Kate Shuttleworth

File photo / Getty Images
File photo / Getty Images

Education Minister Hekia Parata says she supports school performance data being made public but the Ministry of Education has assured school principals it does not intend to publish league tables.

The ministry's regional education programme manager Pauline Cleaver told Radio New Zealand today it did not intend to publish league tables but would not step in to prevent media from publishing results derived from national standards released.

Ms Parata shied away from labelling the public release of national standard data as league tables.

"I have categorically never said that I am interested in league tables,"she said.

" I am interested in there being publicly available information that allows parents to be informed about the quality of achievement and other relevant information, and a website seems to be an obvious vehicle for that."

Student achievement data will be released by the Ministry of Education on May 31 and Ms Parata called for it to be used responsibly.

She agreed a new website would be the best vehicle to relay information to different audiences but would not commit to launching a site this year.

"I am not going for haste over substance," he said.

Ms Parata has already looked at the Australian website Myschool, which allows the public to search the profiles of almost 10,000 Australian schools.

The website was created by independent authority the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, which works in partnership with teachers, principals and state and territory governments.

It compares similar schools in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy against national testing, and also records a school's progress in lifting achievement.

Earlier this year Ms Parata indicated she would compare schools in the same decile grouping [one to 10], in the same way as Australia.

"We invest billions of dollars in the education sector and New Zealanders are entitled to know what value we are getting for that money," she said in February.

Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said Ms Parata had contradicted her ministry earlier this year when she told the said she would compare schools in the same decile grouping and was not against the information going public.

"The minister is pushing a flawed policy against the views of her ministry," said Ms Delahunty.

NZEI president Ian Leckie was also concerned.

The information would become public via Official Information Act requests and aggregated into crude league tables that would unfairly label students, schools and their communities, he said.

Any national standards-based league table would simply reflect the school decile and serve to name and shame some of the very schools that were working hardest to raise student achievement.

- APNZ

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