Public wants school data: poll

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Survey suggests most people want national standards data published.

The survey showed that people aged 18-39 years old were overwhelmingly supportive of the idea, with 70.4 per cent wanting data released. Photo / Paul Estcourt
The survey showed that people aged 18-39 years old were overwhelmingly supportive of the idea, with 70.4 per cent wanting data released. Photo / Paul Estcourt

The majority of people polled think schools should publicly release their national standards performance data.

Results from a Herald-Digipoll survey showed 60.3 per cent of people agreed that schools should be forced to release the information.

The survey showed that people aged 18-39 years old were overwhelmingly supportive of the idea, with 70.4 per cent wanting data released.

Of those in the 40-64 age group, 43.8 per cent agreed, while 34.6 per cent of those aged 65 or more felt the same.

However, NZ Principals Federation president Paul Drummond said he had spent years telling people why teachers felt the information would not be credible.

"I can understand why people would be interested in this data. But the information is one-dimensional and you just cannot compare data from one school to another, because they have all measured the national standards differently.

"We're not afraid of assessment data being made available to parents. Actually, it's the responsibility of the schools to let its community know how it is doing."

A total of 750 people from around the country were surveyed.

Mr Drummond said those in the 18-39 age bracket would most likely have a good understanding of NCEA data published by schools.

But it was a mistake to compare that information with national standards data put out by primary schools, as those children were younger, still developing and therefore still learning; while older students' ideas were very much developed by then.

The Ministry of Education is working with about 25 schools that did not send in data for last year.

Hikurangi Primary School principal Bruce Crawford said the school had long been against the implementation of national standards and had chosen to send in student results based on its own school's 2011 charter, rather than the national standards format.

"The ministry came back to us asking for it to be put in national standards format and we just thought, 'well no, sorry, we're not going to do that because it's ethically wrong'."

The school has since yielded and will start measuring students by national standards this year.

Mr Crawford said that because the school was in a decile-one area, students had to work harder to achieve. "Our people are working extraordinarily hard ... to make things work ... This data is just not a fair indication of how hard our kids work."

A former school principal who stepped down after pressure to implement national standards says ongoing issues with the system will eventually lead to its failure.

Louis Guy was the head of Auckland's New Windsor School for 22 years - 18 as principal - until he resigned at the end of last year.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday, Mr Guy said the release of schools' national standards information at the weekend meant that what he feared the most was already starting to happen. The data was "abusive against the parents and communities" because it deceived them into "thinking they can judge the schools reliably through very limited data".

- NZ Herald

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