The Government has set up an advisory group to replace National Standards in schools – but has kept it quiet, apparently because of public criticism of the proliferation of policy review groups.
The 13-member Ministerial Advisory Group on the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement will report to Education Minister Chris Hipkins on new measures of student progress and achievement across Years 1 to 10 - two years beyond the old National Standards.
The Ministry of Education has also launched an online survey seeking the views of parents as well as educators, but Hipkins left it to ministry officials to announce it quietly on Friday. The survey closes on June 28.
The latest advisory group was not included in 122 policy reviews which National Party leader Simon Bridges last week accused the new Labour-led Government of starting.
It is due to report by September and will meet up to 10 times.
The two co-leaders, AUT Associate Professor Georgina Stewart and a former Ministry of Education official who led the development of the NZ Curriculum, Mary Chamberlain, will be paid $680 a day. The other 11 members will get $480 a day.
The total cost, including travel to Wellington for meetings, has been withheld, but if all 13 members attend 10 meetings each the daily fees alone will cost $66,400.
National Party education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye said there were now more than 10 review groups on aspects of education alone, and people were asking questions about how they would all fit together.
"Of course there is a role for some, but this is getting a bit ridiculous," she said.
But Hipkins said the existence of the advisory group and its make up had been publicly available for some time on the Ministry of Education's website.
"We want to ensure any changes we make are based on expert advice and that those who are tasked with implementing them have been fully consulted in the decision-making process," he said.
Hipkins announced last year that primary schools would no longer have to report students' progress against National Standards and said he would "work with the sector, students, parents, whānau and iwi to develop a new approach" by September 2018.
However in an April 20 paper for Cabinet disclosed by the ministry on Friday, he said he no longer believed that "a new approach" was necessary.
"What we need to do is strengthen the use of the curricula in understanding and supporting all students' progress and achievement," he said.
He has asked the advisory group to report on:
• "The essential learning needed by all students at different stages of their learning journey."
• "Common frameworks and tools for understanding progress across each of the curricula for Years 1-10 ... and those children and young people learning long-term within level 1 of the curriculum."
• "Sharing information with, and reporting to students, parents and whānau."
• "Whole school community data literacy and capability."
• "Getting the assessment and aromatawai [Māori-language assessment] balance right, including the integration of these practices into the learning process (e.g. using digital technology, work samples) and reduce administrative burdens."
At the same time, the ministry has issued a new version of the Progress and Consistency Tool (Pact) which was developed by the National Government to ensure that National Standards were measured consistently in Years 1 to 8.
The new version extends to Year 10 and allows teachers to choose whether to assess their students against National Standards or the first five levels of the NZ Curriculum.
The primary teacher's union, the NZ Educational Institute (NZEI), has boycotted the tool until now, but NZEI president Lynda Stuart welcomed the plan to assess students across the whole curriculum, not just reading, writing and maths which were covered by National Standards.
"Some teachers are using Pact. It's not tied to any National Standards measure at all, so people will utilise tools that they have in the best interests of the learning progress of the children," she said.
NZEI executive member Liam Rutherford, who is leading the union's claim for a 16 per cent pay rise over two years, has been appointed to the new ministerial advisory group. A conflicts of interest statement dated April 24 disclosed that he was a member of the Labour Party's NZ Council.
The other members, apart from the two co-chairs, are: Charles Darr, Laura Hawksworth, Prof Margie Hohepa, Sonia Johnston, Rangimarie Mahuta, Sarah Martin, Dr Claire Sinnema, Prof Graham Hingangaroa Smith, Dr Jeff Smith and Diane Whyte.
Education review groups
• Education Summit Advisory Group (chair: Judge Andrew Becroft)
• Tomorrow's Schools (Bali Haque)
• NCEA (Jeremy Baker)
• Early Learning Strategic Plan (Prof Carmen Dalli)
• Curriculum, progress and achievement (Dr Georgina Stewart, Mary Chamberlain)
• Learning support (Hon Tracey Martin)
• School funding (Ministry of Education)
• Education workforce strategy (Quality Teaching and Wellbeing Working Group)
• School property (Ministry of Education)
• Home-based early childhood education (Ministry of Education)
• Vocational education and training (Ministry of Education)
• Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics Roadmap 2020 (Tertiary Education Commission)
• Performance-Based Research Fund review (due to start by August)