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Labour would ditch national standards

Last updated 14:30 14/09/2011
SUE MORONEY: Says national standards had been a
DONNA WALSH/Waikato Times
SUE MORONEY: Says national standards had been a "huge distraction" for schools and parents.

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Controversial national standards would be turfed out by Labour and replaced with a scheme to track student progress against the national curriculum, the party has announced.

Labour has announced its policy for lifting achievement in primary schools.

Education spokeswoman Sue Moroney said the national standards had been a "huge distraction" for schools and parents which "had to stop".

"They are not moderated, they differ from school to school, and are therefore neither national nor standard," Moroney said.

The National-led Government passed legislation under urgency within its first 100 days in office to enact national standards in primary and intermediate schools.

The standards rank children aged five to 12 at above, below or well below benchmarks in reading, writing and maths.

Hundreds of schools have protested against the standards, however, with many refusing to co-operate with the policy.

Moroney said Labour would give schools a choice.

"We believe that lifting education achievements is best left to the experts in partnership with parents, and our plan allows that to happen," she said.

"But for any school community that genuinely supports national standards and believes it provides the best way to get results for their students we will not bully them into submission."

Labour would, however, require schools to use "recognised assessment tools" and teacher judgement to:

  • Determine the New Zealand curriculum level a child was achieving
  • Show a child's rate of progress between reports over the course of a year
  • Identify children not achieving within the curriculum level appropriate to their year at school
  • Decide and report the next learning steps
  • Report this information in plain language to parents at least twice a year

Parents would get "clear and regular feedback" on their child's progress against the New Zealand curriculum and be able to see what was needed to lift achievement.

"Parents will be able to gain this valuable information without their school being forced to adopt a distracting one-size fits all approach, which is splitting school communities."

The existing National Standards were based on systems imported from England, the US and Australia, and ignored the fact that New Zealand already ranked above those countries in education performance, Moroney said.

- Fairfax NZ

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