Our kids among the smartest

Marlborough children are among the country's top performers in reading, writing and maths, second only to Otago.

More than 82 per cent of pupils were at or above the standard in reading, 78.6 per cent in mathematics and 74 per cent in writing.

Queen Charlotte College principal Tom Parsons said it was great to have the Ministry of Education results available.

It was the first time this amount of information had been released at a national and regional level, Parsons said.

"You can't fix a problem in your region if you can't measure it . . . and compare them with other regions. This information will give us that opportunity," he said.

The ministry has set a goal for Marlborough to have 85 per cent of students meet the national standards by 2017.

Parsons believed reaching the goal was possible if the community worked together.

His only concern was the impact a social downturn in Marlborough could have on reaching the 85 per cent.

"Something similar to what happened when it was suggested the ferries might move from Picton or if the wine industry had to take a downturn, could impact education in the region and our ability to reach that goal. It isn't all school related, it reaches further into the community than people realise," he said.

He hoped that the amount of information available to schools would encourage them to compare notes and work together to help their students improve, Parsons said.

The standards came into effect for year 1 to 8 schools in 2010, giving national expectations of student knowledge, progress and achievement across all areas of the curriculum.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said parents and schools never used to have such specific information and were using it to make sure children got what they needed.

Fifteen of the 16 regions had increases in achievement against national standards from 2011 to 2013, including gains for Maori students in 14 of the 16 areas.

Participation in early childhood education had also risen from 94.6 per cent in 2011 to 95.9 per cent. The Government's goal was to reach 98 per cent by 2016.

The Marlborough Express