New Zealand's ranking on the PiSA international education league tables is set to fall, Education Minister Hekia Parata hinted in a speech today.
The next set of PiSA results (Programme for International Student Assessment) are due out next week.
"It is probable that New Zealand may well slip again as we see a further improvement, especially in Asian countries," she said in a major speech on education to the Iwi Chairs Forum in Gisborne.
The results rate the performance of 15-year-olds every three years in maths, science and reading.
In the 2010 result, New Zealand scored fourth in reading, seventh in maths and fourth in science.
Hekia Parata said the "emerging Asian dynamos" had made great strides in the survey.
She recently sent a delegation of education leaders, including the Secretary of Education and the head of the two teacher unions to Asia to look at what was driving their success.
"What we learnt from that exercise is that they have a focus on excellence in all aspects of the education system and that there is very strong alignment between what is developed in policy and what is delivered in practice."
In today's speech, Hekia Parata defended the Government's focus on assessment of students though the introduction of national standards but she said "I still need to crack the one remaining gap - a form of national assessment can operate to support teaching of year nine and 10 students [form three and four]."
National standards cover primary and intermediate schools, and NCEA assessment begins at level 11 - leaving years 9 and 10 in between the two assessments.
She announced she was going to give all schools access to the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) - which is currently available to primary schools and intermediate teachers to help them make judgments required for national standards assessments.
She said it would help teachers find out how their students were progressing, what they might do next to support each student and help with providing detailed reporting to parents.
She said it was a tool that teachers had asked for.
Hekia Parata also announced the establishment of a single programme, Building on Success, which amalgamates a lot of existing programmes targeted ate Maori success.
"We have made some progress but there is a worryingly persistent equity gap which means we need to do more, more quickly."
Building on Success will have $31 million to spend over three years but it not clear with any of that is new money simply the combination of existing programmes.
She indicated it was modelled on an existing local model run with the Whanganui Iwi Education Authority and private education provider Cognition Education.
The stated aim of the programme is to achieve accelerate and equitable outcomes for Maori students; develop school leaders' and teachers' skills, knowledge, relationship and capability to more effectively enable success for Maori students in collaboration with whanau, hapu, iwi and the community; and to support school to achieve the vision, principles and competencies for Maori students as outlines in the curriculum.