National standards given world praise

A Palmerston North education expert has defended the national standards system, saying it's considered top quality among international professionals.

The release of the latest national standards data was met with a backlash from Manawatu school leaders last week, with a handful of New Zealand's leading educationists echoing their concerns.

Critics have called the system misleading, meaningless and flawed, saying it misinformed the public and led to unsuitable comparisons of schools and harmful "league tables".

But Palmerston North-based Massey University Institute of Education senior lecturer Dr Jenny Poskitt has stood by the national standards system, saying it was highly regarded overseas.

Poskitt was one of five Kiwis to attend the International Assessment Conference in Canada earlier this year, where experts lauded New Zealand's national standards system, calling it "the most coherent system in the world". "New Zealand is envied internationally for its systems of collecting and using national assessment data," she said.

"At the heart of effective assessment is the involvement of students and teachers, who gather, analyse and use assessment data. We have that in the national standards data."

The data were gathered using a range of assessment tools, by comparing data over time and regularly tracking progress, whereas other countries' systems did a one-day national test to determine results. "Because teachers collect the data, they understand it and . . . use the information immediately to adjust learning and teaching to deepen student understanding."

Teachers discussed samples of student learning, which led to professional conversations about teachers' own learning and judgments, as well as children's learning progressions, she said.

"Consequently, teachers go back to the classroom focusing on particular elements of the child's learning they may have previously not noticed or with new strategies to help them learn."

Manawatu Standard