About 200 schools have refused to implement the standards at all, despite threats their boards could be replaced by commissioners.An international report on the state of New Zealand education has highlighted concerns about National Standards - giving unhappy schools yet another weapon in their fight against the system.

The criticisms come in an OECD report that found New Zealand had "one of the most developed school systems in the world" and average student learning outcomes were "very good by international comparison".

However, the report said there were several areas in National Standards that needed more work to "embed" them in primary schools.

Those areas include stronger support to ensure overall teacher judgments on a child's level of ability are reliable and consistent; clearer statements on how information gathered from schools can be used; and more work to ensure the focus on literacy and numeracy does not come at the cost of other subjects.


Critics of the standards said the report confirmed schools' concerns were "very well placed". They claim the standards, which provide primary school benchmarks in reading, writing and maths, are not a good measure of how a child achieves and do nothing to improve underachievement.

The president of education sector union NZEI Ian Leckie said the report suggested National Standards were neither national nor standard. It also suggested they were not well-aligned with current assessment tools, and that they risked marginalising other parts of the curriculum.

"The report reiterates many of the concerns that schools and teachers have been trying to flag since National Standards were first introduced."

Education Minister Hekia Parata welcomed the report, saying it commended the professionalism of teachers, the robustness and credibility of NCEA and the ERO model.

She said the recommendation that more work be done to implement the standards was "exactly what we are focusing on now - ensuring the standards are further developed and embedded within our schools".