Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Doubts on school system exposed

Hekia Parata. Photo / APN
Hekia Parata. Photo / APN

Scrapping yearly reporting of controversial national standards results should be investigated, the Government's own advisory group says.

The group also says some criticism of the system may be justified, including the possibility that the standards used to measure children's progress are wrong.

It suggests Education Minister Hekia Parata consider finding "champions" to promote the data-driven approach to education, in a similar role as Sir Peter Gluckman has taken on for science.

Recommendations from the Ministry of Education's National Standards Aggregate Results Advisory Group reveal doubts about whether annual reporting of schools' results is needed. "An alternative to yearly national standards reporting, such as reporting on national standards at years 2, 4, 6 and 8, should be investigated," the group states in a June 28 report.

Yesterday the Green Party, which obtained the document under the Official Information Act, said it showed there were concerns about national standards and the message surrounding them, more than three years after their introduction.

"It shows that parents can't rely on that information. I hear from parents all the time that parents can't understand it, and it doesn't sit with what they are hearing from teachers," said Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei.

Ms Parata was unavailable for comment. But Rowena Phair, deputy secretary student achievement at the ministry, said it was good practice to review policy and practice, and use evidence to inform changes.

The group's short-term recommendations had been implemented, and there would be a review of national standards policy in 2016.

"For 2014, the ministry has made changes in reporting to reduce the administrative burden on schools, but parents will still receive regular information on how their child is progressing, and it will ensure the ministry receives timely information on how each school is tracking."

The advisory group's recommendations offer an insight into the Government's struggle to have national standards accepted by schools, and ideas for how to progress them.

The standards describe what students should be able to do in reading, writing and mathematics as they progress through levels 1 to 8, the primary and intermediate years.

The advisory group wants progress in literacy and numeracy to be tracked beyond that, into Years 9 and 10, the first of secondary school.

"[This is needed] to provide information about students' trajectories towards being successful school leavers. This was described as a missing link in the strategy."

- NZ Herald

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