Far North lags in national standards

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 12:02 24/07/2014

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Otago kids lead the country in reading, maths, and writing achievement, while Northland children are lagging behind on every subject.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says Public Achievement Information released today shows that three quarters of the 400,000 children tested throughout the country are at or above national standards.

Of the 2007 primary and intermediate schools reporting on standards nationwide, 78 per cent of pupils were at or above the national standard in reading, 75 per cent in maths, and 71 per cent in writing.

More than 83 per cent of Otago pupils were at or above the national standard in reading, 78.9 per cent in mathematics, and 76.4 per cent in writing, compared with 73 per cent, 69.9 per cent, and 65.4 per cent in Northland respectively.

While those percentages of children were still at or above the Government's ''national standard'', Northland's achievement had dropped in both reading and writing since 2011, and the region's children were achieving the lowest results in the country.

Canterbury was slightly above the overall national standard, with 80.1 per cent achieving at or above in reading, 76.7 per cent in maths, and 73 per cent in writing.

Wellington kids came in at 80.4 per cent in reading, 75.5 per cent in maths, and 71.1 per cent in writing, compared with Auckland's 76.7 per cent, 75 per cent, and 70.6 per cent respectively.

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.

Schools were required to start publishing their results in 2012, sparking controversy and backlash from the education sector concerned about the data being used to form league tables.

Today's release comes as Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins this week claimed Valley School in Pukekohe was advised by the Ministry of Education to ''arbitrarily adjust student results'' from below to above standard to make their data add up.

The Ministry hit back at the claim, with spokeswoman Katrina Casey rejecting any suggestion that the school was asked to tamper with data. 

''we would never ask schools to change their National Standards data nor did we in this case. However, we have an important role to check data for discrepancies which is what we did in this case.'' 

The principal accepted there had been a glitch in the spreadsheet numbers and the ministry had been working with the school on how the discrepancy could be resolved. 

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Labour is campaigning to scrap the standards, but Parata continued to defend the National-implemented data.

''Parents and schools never used to have this sort of very specific information, and now they're using it to make sure that the kids get what they need when they need it.''

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 a current 95.9 per cent. The Government's goal was to reach 98 per cent by 2016.

The public achievement data also showed the number of 18 year olds with NCEA Level 2 or equivalent had gone up from 74.3 per cent in 2011, to 78.6 per cent in 2013.

- Stuff

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