COMMENT:

I'm not sure why we need to load more assessments onto our kids.

Sure, many students aren't meeting literacy and numeracy standards - but is throwing more tests at them the answer?

Haven't we already failed in this area of over-testing our kids? And isn't primary and intermediate school supposed to involve enjoying your childhood before you hit the hard yakka years of high school? So why would we now want to put kids as young as 10 and 11 years old through NCEA-style assessments?

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The Government's undertaking NCEA reforms, but the Ministry of Education's also asking whether first-year intermediate students should have to pass NCEA-style testing.

Primary and intermediate school principals say no - and I agree with them.

Imposing numeracy and literacy standards on kids that young is a bad idea.
You run the risk of going backwards, back to the dark days of league tables (which we've just got rid of).

Children have enough pressure throughout their school life without being burdened earlier and earlier with hefty assessments.

Having kids in senior years at high school I see first-hand how stressful it is for them at that age - and even at intermediate when there's testing or projects to be done, younger kids can get stressed.

And what do we have an epidemic of these days? Anxiety, depression, mental health issues and - as we learn this week - unprecedented levels of bullying. So kids have enough to deal with at school without adding more exams to the mix, surely?

And don't give me that 'snowflake' argument. At 10 and 11 years old you are still very much a child, you are entitled to have less pressure than teenagers.

The president of the Principals' Federation said in one report that their members were "taken aback by the suggestion children as young as 11 could sit the tests". Part of their surprise being the Government had said its focus was the wider curriculum, not drilling down on maths and reading, they said.

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So where's this idea come from? And why, given all the palaver with National Standards, would we want to head back down this track?

There's no shortage of voices on this issue: Educational Institute President Lynda Stuart is quoted as saying that "research showed children and teenagers were already under too much pressure because of tests and assessment and primary school children did not need more of them".

She's right.
Any changes or new standards will be decided by the end of this year.

Let's hope the Ministry of Education is listening to primary and intermediate school principals before it makes up its mind.