Schools fail to meet national targets

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2013

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Wellington and Hawke's Bay primary and secondary school pupils are lagging behind government targets, but they are not alone.

Nationwide, none of the targets for national standards, NCEA for school leavers, or early childhood education participation is being met.

For the first time, parents can now see a regional breakdown for achievement throughout a child's schooling.

The Government has set four targets for the sector, but nationally they are missing the mark - in the case of primary school writing standards, the gap is 15 per cent.

The data show improvements across all areas nationally but identify precise areas where more investment is needed to meet targets, Education Minister Hekia Parata said. "It's clear we have challenges, in particular, in respect of Maori and Pasifika, and it's clear we have challenges in terms of boys."

Nationally, 70 per cent of all students are achieving national standards, compared with 60.2 per cent of Maori and 56.8 per cent of Pasifika pupils.

Boys are also dragging the chain in writing, with only 62.6 per cent achieving standards compared with 77.8 per cent of girls. The target is 85 per cent.

In Hawke's Bay, national standards and NCEA achievement have a long way to go to reach their targets, but Frimley School principal Malcolm Dixon said deciles had a lot to answer for.

In Hastings there were no schools above decile 5 but it was parental support, not the quality of teaching, that was affected, he said.

"If that amount of low-decile schools are going into the region's results and we're only 2 per cent behind the national average then I'd say we're doing pretty well."

But it was the disparity between regions, such as Hawke's Bay and Wellington, that showed the disadvantage provincial schools had, Wellington College principal Roger Moses said. "I have significant concerns about the performance of kids in rural areas because it's difficult to attract quality teachers there."

Rural students were not as exposed and their outlook was "more prescribed" as a result.

Hawke's Bay national standards results are up to 3 per cent behind the national averages and Wellington secondary schools are about 4 per cent ahead of Hawke's Bay in terms of achievement in NCEA level 2.

Although schools would find the data useful, Mr Moses said a true reflection of students' progress would be measured by university entrance and scholarship pass rates, and the percentage of NCEA endorsements at merit and excellence level.

"It's difficult, in my view, to manipulate those sorts of pass rates."

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Ms Parata said the regional breakdown showed the challenges and successes and highlighted that 70 per cent to 75 per cent of children were doing well.

Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons supported the "transparency" in providing the data to regions for the first time.

"If we can't measure, then we can't fix. Now we have the measurement and we have regional representation that indicates in some areas there are pockets of excellence and in others there aren't."

The number of 18-year-old Maori with NCEA level 2 falls well short of the 85 per cent target, at 60.9 per cent.

However, Asians are exceeding the target, at 87 per cent compared with Europeans' 82.1 per cent.

Mr Parsons said the target for secondary schools was optimistic but not unachievable.

HOW THE NUMBERS STACK UP

Early Childhood Education participation:

Target - 98 per cent

Nationally - 95.7 per cent

Wellington - 97.3 per cent, Hawke's Bay - 96.1 per cent

Primary school pupils meeting national standards:

Target - 85 per cent across writing, maths and reading

Nationally - writing, 70 per cent, maths, 73.6 per cent, reading, 77.4 per cent

Wellington - writing, 71.6 per cent, maths, 74.3 per cent, reading, 80.1 per cent

Hawke's Bay - writing, 68 per cent, maths, 70.4 per cent, reading, 75.3 per cent

School leavers who achieved NCEA level 2:

Target - 85 per cent, Nationally - 74.3 per cent, Wellington - 77.9 per cent, Hawke's Bay - 73.2 per cent

18-year-olds who achieved NCEA level 2:

Target - 85 per cent, Nationally - 77.2 per cent, Wellington - 81.8 per cent, Hawke's Bay - 77.1 per cent

- © Fairfax NZ News

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