Rich schools excel in National Standards

CLASS OF ITS OWN: National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics have been used in all primary and intermediate schools since 2010.
CLASS OF ITS OWN: National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics have been used in all primary and intermediate schools since 2010.

Children in Auckland's top decile schools are doing better than those in less well-off areas, as measured by the Education Ministry's controversial National Standards.

Stuff.co.nz's School Report website, which reveals National Standards results from more than 1000 schools nationwide, shows a lower percentage of students at decile one primary and intermediate schools in Auckland are reaching the standards compared to decile 10 schools in the city.

There are 2000 primary and secondary schools in New Zealand, but about half did not respond to the request for National Standards data, despite instructions from both the Ombudsman and the Education Ministry.

A number of schools have not been included for privacy reasons, such as if they have a total roll of 20 or under or have fewer than 10 Maori or 10 Pacific students.

The standards in reading, writing and mathematics have been used in all primary and intermediate schools since 2010.

Many principals and academic experts insist the standards' data is still too unreliable and should not be used to compare performance between schools.

Auckland's data shows there are more children both exceeding and falling well below National Standards in the city, compared to the rest of the country.

In 2010, 73.2 per cent of children in Auckland achieved in mathematics, 66.5 per cent passed writing and 74.5 per cent were given the tick in reading.

In 2009, the Education Ministry predicted the standards in maths would be met or exceeded by 75 to 90 per cent of pupils in years one to six and by 50 to 70 per cent of pupils in years seven and eight.

The Auckland data paints a contrasting picture of schools at the extreme ends of the decile range.

On average 14 per cent of Auckland children in decile 10 schools are failing to reach the standards in reading, while in decile one schools the figure is 48.3 per cent.

Auckland does well in producing above-standard writers, with almost 18 per cent exceeding the National Standard - ahead of the figure for Waikato, Wellington, Christchurch and Southland.

But the city of sails also has the highest number of children, one in 11, ranked as ''well below'' the same standard.

Principals are warning parents not to rely on the National Standards data as an enrolment tool alone.

They have called the data ropey and unreliable as a sole source for investigating schools.

Murrays Bay Intermediate School principal Colin Dale said a school has many things going on behind the numbers, like special needs children.

The decile 10 intermediate was above the regional average for reading with only 12 per cent of students below the National Standard.

''Children don't learn at the same rate, they don't walk at the same rate, they certainly don't speak at the same rate, so why would we have National Standards where if a child doesn't meet, at a certain stage of their schooling, a particular random recommendation they're failing?

''And of course they're not failing - Winston Churchill never met them (the standards) and Einstein couldn't read or write until he was 10.''

Flat Bush School principal Pat Chamley said students aren't bound for failure because they go to school in Otara.

The decile one primary was well above the regional average for decile one schools in Auckland, with 26.2 per cent of students not meeting the National Standard in reading.

''I looked at some data from a decile 10 school of a child who was stated as being at standard in written language,'' he said. ''And when I compare with to what we do here, that child would have been seriously at risk, if not failing.

''Now they've judged that in their own way as being 'at standard' and we've judged it in our own way as being 'at standard' and it's very different. It has to make you wonder what the point of National Standards is.''

* The averages created are using only the results Fairfax has been provided with from each region.

Auckland Now