School standards report card 'ropey'

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 03/07/2012
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BAD REPORT: Prime Minister John Key has acknowledged that national standards data coming in from schools is "extremely patchy".

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A fifth of primary schools are still not handling the national standards in literacy and numeracy, a report by the Education Review Office has found.

And the teachers' union says the report shows only one-fifth are working well with the standards.

The report, Working with National Standards to Promote Students' Progress and Achievement, examined 439 primary schools nationwide and found 19 per cent were "not working with all the requirements associated with implementing the standards".

More than a third of those schools had refused to implement the standards because they were against them.

"In many of these schools, leadership is lacking, staff turnover is high and considerable work remains to be done in curriculum and assessment developments that lay the foundations for working with the national standards," the report says.

The standards – a flagship education policy of the National-led Government since before the 2008 election – assess all children aged 5 to 12 as being at, above, below or well below benchmarks in reading, writing and maths.

They have been used in primary and intermediate schools since 2010, but schools were first required to send their results to the Education Ministry at the end of May this year.

Prime Minister John Key last night admitted the data coming in was "very ropey". "The earlier data, in my view, is unlikely to be terribly satisfactory for anybody so it does need a bit more time.

"It's extremely patchy and it's in different forms and that will make it very difficult to interpret.

"But over time, the Government's hope would be that it would be more consistent because the purpose of having better information is to give parents, I think, a better sense of how their school is performing."

Mr Key said the data should be immediately available to the public via the media or through a kind of league table the ministry plans to unveil in September.

"If you don't measure, monitor and report on things, I don't think you get progress."

Teachers' union the New Zealand Educational Institute said the ERO report found only 22 per cent of the schools examined had fully embraced the national standards.

"Schools aren't seeing the value in working with national standards. They've got a long, long way to go to actually even showing that the standards have educational merit," NZEI president Ian Leckie said.

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NZEI had urged a law change preventing the publication of the data but it had not found favour with the Government.

"Any information from [schools] going into the public domain should be verifiable, should be reliable and in fact, it's important that the Government accepts a responsibility that it doesn't go out," Mr Leckie said.

THE RESPONSE

Of the 439 schools in the ERO evaluation of national standards:

22 per cent were working well with the standards.

59 per cent were "developing their systems and processes" to work with the standards.

19 per cent were "not working with all the requirements".-

- © Fairfax NZ News

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