National standards report exposes 'flaws'

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 04/10/2012

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Officials told the Government the national standards results of individual schools should not be published this year because it risked "damaging buy-in from the sector".

Opponents of national standards in literacy and numeracy yesterday said there were "fundamental flaws" in the policy after a report emerged suggesting "considerable variability" in the accuracy of teacher judgments.

The latest monitoring report on the national standards, which looked at a sample of 100 schools, suggested that in writing, the accuracy of judgments was as low as 3 per cent in one school and as high as 89 per cent in another.

In maths, accuracy ranged from 18 per cent to 90 per cent.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said there was "variability" in the use of the standards across the country.

"We've always been conscious that we have to work on progress and consistency, and that's why we've been developing a tool with teachers to do exactly that."

Last week, she published the national standards results of 1899 schools on a government website.

Fairfax Media earlier published the results of about 1000 schools on its Stuff.co.nz website in a new section called School Report.

An official paper to Ms Parata, sent in June and obtained under the Official Information Act, said a national report on the data should be published, but individual school results should not be.

"Proactively releasing poor quality data, even with caveats, may provide justification to the concerns raised by the sector."

Ms Parata said a proactive release had been decided on in July.

The publication enabled school data to be published alongside links to contextual information.

Labour education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta said the new monitoring report showed the government data was "essentially worthless" and should never have been published because of the potential for misinterpretation.

However, Nelson's Henley School principal, John Armstrong - a member of the Government's "National Standards Sector Advisory Group" - said teacher judgments would improve.

"Many principals are finding national standards a useful tool for gaining ‘big picture' information about their school."

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- Fairfax Media

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