Threat to fudge exam results

Last updated 05:00 31/08/2009

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Schools are threatening to fudge test results and find the easiest tests possible to boost results and undermine the introduction of the Government's controversial national standards.

Hundreds of primary school principals have said they will boycott the Government's flagship policy unless changes are made to limit public access to schools' performance data.

Under the policy, pupils from years 1 to 8 will be assessed in numeracy and literacy against national academic standards, with performance data publicly available under the Official Information Act.

The Government has abandoned plans to fully introduce national standards in primary and intermediate schools next year, with schools not having to report back to officials on pupils' performance against the standards until 2012.

However, parents will still have to be told how their child is performing against the standards from the beginning of next year.

Principals are still concerned about the prospects of league tables and have aired their thoughts about possible ways to undermine them on an Education Ministry website forum.

Paul Heffernan, principal of Auckland's Laingholm Primary School, wrote on the forum: "We are going to teach the easiest test we can find. We are going to re-teach and re-teach baby.

"We will even fudge the results big time. My school is going to be top school on the league table so that my community will know I run a brilliant school. Parents will flock to my door. To hell with anything creative. And don't say this won't happen. It sure did with NCEA."

Auckland's Summerland Primary School principal Luke Sumich, who started the discussion, was pleased so many of his colleagues were having their say.

"We need to get our concerns clearly expressed and into the hearts and minds of parents and politicians. If we could all speak with one majority voice, perhaps then [Education minister] Mrs Tolley might accept that parents do not want league tables just ready access to their child's data."

He had not decided if the standards were good or bad but was annoyed with the prospect of league tables being produced.

"If you are in a poor area but the school does an amazing job, I may not get good results on a league table. They assume that a school ranked higher than its neighbour is performing better. They assume better teaching, but it does not tell the full story."

Mrs Tolley said most of the sector was working constructively with officials to raise pupils' achievement levels.

"Parents have made it clear that they support national standards."

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- The Dominion Post


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