Labour would dump National Standards

By Kate Shuttleworth

Labour Party MP Chris Hipkins says National Standards are too "vague". Photo / George Novak
Labour Party MP Chris Hipkins says National Standards are too "vague". Photo / George Novak

A change of government next election would see National Standards scrapped.

Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins said the Labour Party would scrap National Standards in their current form.

For some time the party has said it would look at a scheme to track student progress against the national curriculum.

The policy is still a work in progress, but Mr Hipkins vowed not to publish any aggregated data.

He described the standards as "vague".

"National Standards are no use basically; they're not consistent, they're not providing reliable, accurate data and they don't have an educational purpose."

Education Review Office reports would give schools a picture of how well schools are doing, and Labour would strengthen that information, he said.

"We think parents deserve quality information about how their kids are doing."

Labour are not alone in this policy. Greens' co-leader Metiria Turei said the party would campaign on the same front next election.

She said the Greens had opposed legislation the National-led Government had brought in under urgency within its first 100 days in office to enact National Standards in primary and intermediate schools

Education Minister Hekia Parata said Labour were sending mixed messages over National Standards.

"I believe David Shearer said they weren't going to abolish National Standards last year, then he said National Standards would be optional to schools to take on as they feel fit. So who would know what Labour is doing?

"National Standards data is based on actual teaching judgements in actual classrooms . I trust teachers' judgements."

National Standards released today showed 77 per cent of children in primary and intermediate schools were at or above their reading standard for their year level last year.

In maths it was 74 per cent, and writing was 70 per cent. All three figures represent an increase of between one and two per cent compared to 2011.

The data showed Maori and Pasifika students were behind other students, and girls were outperforming boys.

Auckland principals dismissed the national snapshot, saying it revealed nothing new. They said they were backing a policy stance to scrap the standards.

President of the Auckland Primary Principals Association Brian Gower said National Standards should be scrapped.

"I would support that, because we have to move toward some sort of high-trust model, so that the data can be truly validated."

He called National Standards a "big brother approach".

"... even Key has said the data is ropey, and as professionals we would highly agree with that."

National Standards are not moderated across schools.

"Due to lack of moderation there are no National Standards; there are curriculum levels."

Principal of May Road School in Auckland's Mount Roskill, Lynda Stuart, didn't see it as disruptive to abandon the standards.

She said National Standards didn't allow trust between schools and the ministry.

"I think National Standards, as they are, don't help target students' needs."

She called the data, released today, unreliable and was concerned people would take it too seriously.

"I think schools have always identified children that are struggling with their learning. We don't need National Standards to know this."

Principal of Freemans Bay School in Auckland, Sandra Jenkins, said it was a sensible policy move to scrap National Standards, saying the data was unreliable and invalid.

NZEI president Judith Nowotarski said National Standards had cost millions or dollars.

"National Standards are costly, time-consuming and do not provide any useful or sound assessment of student achievement."

- APNZ

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