Schools' National Standards results to go online

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 12:23 08/08/2012

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Schools are to have their National Standards results published on a Government website.

Education Minister Hekia Parata today confirmed the contentious data would be added to an existing Government website called Education Counts.

"This information will be available on the website and parents or members of the public will be able to go on and look at all of it," Parata said.

"Parents and schools have wanted both and from the outset, that has been the intention of National Standards and now we are designing a tool that will deliver that."

National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics have been used in all primary and intermediate schools since 2010.

This year, schools have been required to send performance information to the Education Ministry for the first time.

About 95 per cent of schools have sent their data but Parata admits there is "significant variability" in what has come in. While schools were required to report their data, there was no mandatory format required.

The data published online in September would be in the same form as it had been reported to the Education Ministry, Parata said.

Next year, a standard reporting format would be required, however. A five-year plan for publishing "public achievement information" would help improve the quality of the information.

Teacher unions have argued the National Standards data is too unreliable to be published and raised concern over the potential for it to be arranged in to a league table, unfairly ranking schools.

Parata said the Government would not arrange the performance of schools in to a league table.

Ranking schools on performance would require a national test, which was not used in New Zealand.

"What we have instead is a range of data, all of which helps parents and schools and learners themselves to understand how well they are doing," Parata said.

However, the website would collect schools within regions for parents to view. That would show the overall performance against the standards in each region, as well as showing the overall national performance.

At meetings at hui around the country, it had been "really clear and consistent from all" parents that they were "very keen" to understand the information and how it applied to their child. It would also help them to discuss how they and the school could help their child improve.

Secondary school results from the National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) would also be added to the site soon, Parata said.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said release of the data would "inevitably" lead to schools being "ranked and judged on inaccurate data".

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"It is irresponsible to publish this information knowing that it is inaccurate and cannot be relied upon," Turei said.

RELEASE DATA, SCHOOLS TOLD

Schools have been told to disregard the advice of a primary teachers' union and instead release National Standards performance information.

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem has written to all schools after some brushed off requests for the data with a pro-forma response provided by the New Zealand Educational Institute.

Dame Beverley said the advice NZEI had offered "conflicted" with that provided by the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

"In my view boards of trustees are entitled to rely on the advice conveyed by the NZSTA. However, boards that rely on the advice conveyed by the NZEI risk an adverse finding being made against them by an Ombudsman under the [law]," she said.

Schools that had acted, or were considering acting, "in accordance with the NZEI advice" should reconsider, she said.

Those that continued to refuse or extend release of information would face an investigation, which "may find that a board has acted unreasonably or contrary to the law".

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- Fairfax Media

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