National standards data provided by schools is too "ropey" to show parents how well a school is doing in reading, writing and maths and may not be released this year, the Prime Minister says.

Data the Ministry of Education had received from schools was "patchy", making it difficult to create anything coherent for parents and needed more time, John Key said at a post-Cabinet press conference yesterday.

"This year, I think the data will be too ropey," he said.

The National Government introduced the national standards policy during its first term in office.


Mr Key said the Minister of Education told him data was not up to scratch - "it's extremely patchy and in different formats and that will make it very difficult to interpret - but over time the Government hopes it will be more consistent because the purpose of having information is to give parents a better sense of how their school is performing".

Mr Key said the best way for the ministry to produce information, as an alternative to league tables generated by the media, would be in consultation with the education sector.

"It's better for the Government and the sector to agree on a format, but if they can't they're not going to stop media organisations going to schools for the data," he said. "The sector needs to consider what they think will be the most productive way of presenting that data. My sense is that if we could come to a logical way of presenting that data and could give it to media outlets they would be much more likely to use it."

The Prime Minister said data should be presented in a way that compares schools in the same decile group. "There is no point assessing the results of a decile 1 school against the results of a decile 10 school.

"Some very low-decile schools will be presented with a range of issues that may not be the case in a decile 10 school and so you may have a lot of students coming and going from the school, or more kids with English as a second language," he said.

Almost 59 per cent of Herald-DigiPoll survey respondents approve of publishing the material, either by the ministry or the media, or both. League tables for secondary schools' NCEA results are commonly published, but not data for primary schools.