League tables in primary schools now 'inevitable'

Last updated 05:00 31/07/2010
Anne Tolley
LEAGUE TABLES: Mrs Tolley is again on the front foot over league tables after shying away from the idea last year.

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Primary school league tables are back on the agenda, with Education Minister Anne Tolley now saying they are inevitable.

Mrs Tolley is again on the front foot over league tables after shying away from the idea last year. She set up a think tank to try to find a way to stop data from the new National Standards being used to rank schools against one another.

But Mrs Tolley has now said no-one had come up with an acceptable solution that could stop league tables.

"Eventually, you have to come to a conclusion that there is no safe way of presenting the data.

"I have always said that communities are entitled to the information, whether it is good, bad or indifferent."

National Standards have been implemented in primary and intermediate schools this year. All children, aged five to 12 are ranked as either at, above, below or well below national benchmarks in reading, writing and maths.

Many principals and academic experts fear that when schools send all of the data about their pupils to the Education Ministry in 2012, media will use the information to rank schools against each other. They are worried the comparisons will be unfair on lower decile schools that teach children from tougher backgrounds.

But Mrs Tolley said secondary schools were coping with the league tables created by the annual results in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, or NCEA.

"We haven't seen huge bus-loads of kids being moved after the NCEA league tables come out."

Mrs Tolley has expressed concern that her league tables think tank was taking too long to find a solution.

"I've said to them, we're not changing the Official Information Act ... You can't give responsibility without information, so they [communities] are entitled to have good information."

Principal's Federation vice-president Peter Simpson said the data from National Standards would be "invalid and unsafe".

"The creation of league tables using the data from these standards is dangerous for kids and for parents."

Comparing primary school league tables with secondary school tables was no comfort because one-fifth of all NCEA results had been shown to be poorly moderated. "One in five are getting it wrong, so league tables using those aren't valid either."

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- The Dominion Post

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