Kiwi students are falling behind the rest of the world in reading, maths and science, a global education report has revealed.
New Zealand's education ranking has fallen from seventh to 18th in science, from 13th to 23rd in maths, and from seventh to 13th in reading, according to a report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) last night.
Just over 4000 15-year-old Kiwi students took part in the assessment, which is done every three years.
Opposition MPs say students are falling behind because teachers are too busy filling in government forms to concentrate on teaching.
But Education Minister Hekia Parata pointed the finger at issues to which the study group has been exposed, including the bedding-in of a new curriculum, under-investment in teachers, and a poor culture of behaviour in some schools.
"This Government is addressing all of these long-standing issues," she said.
The students measured by the report were in the education system from 2001 to 2012, which meant they had never been caught by the national standards system, Ms Parata said.
She preferred to focus on the fact that students were still performing above the OECD average when it came to reading, maths and science.
Countries such as Australia, Canada, Sweden and Finland also declined, while Asian countries including China, Singapore and Hong Kong improved, she said.
Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said the National Government needed to accept its policies were accelerating the decline of the education system.
"It is a significant drop and, if you look at the other countries that are overtaking us . . . some real alarm bells should be ringing at this point."
Those sentiments were echoed by teachers' union NZEI. National president Judith Nowotarski said that the Government's obsession with collecting "unnecessary and irrelevant" data was hurting students.
"The minister is being misleading when she claims that this decline is a long-running trend. By far the biggest drop in achievement has occurred since 2009."
Ms Parata said the Government was committed to raising achievement, which was why it had invested $9.7 billion in education during tight fiscal times.
The OECD's 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment study, or Pisa, compared the literacy, maths and science performance of just over half a million 15-year-olds from 65 countries or economies. Shanghai rated top in all three.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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