'Wrong' to expect same standards with children
Case Study: Raroa Normal IntermediateJODY O'CALLAGHAN
In our Schools
Raroa Normal Intermediate School may have the trifecta in high National Standards achievements, but principal Kevin Ryan says it is wrong to expect kids to meet the same standards at the same time.
''Learning is more than just reading, writing and maths.''
Nearly 93 per cent eof the decile 10 Johnsonville school's students achieved at or above the national standard in reading, as well as 91.4 per cent in maths and 85.8 per cent in writing.
But there was an emphasis on the school's more than 600 pupils learning across the board, including subjects like music and drama.
''It's the way in which we organise our curriculum that makes it successful, I believe. Across the board,'' he said.
''Our scores and standards are high and our kids achieve.''
But high-decile schools would generally produce better results.
''We've got great kids here who come from good backgrounds. They already have a high ability before they come to us.''
And the surrounding contributing schools were also high-decile. ''They already have the abilities that we can build on.
''We just didn't do it in two years, but we do have a curriculum that meets their needs and engages them.''We try to emphasise in our curriculum having authentic context to learning.''
That involved teaching them skills when it was appropriate and showing them how to adapt that to real-life situations.
Teaching them ''just in case they need it'' did not work, he said.
The school's gifted and talented students, and those with learning support needs, were identified early, with teachers specially employed to help those at either end.
''Not all schools have the staffing that we have to meet those needs. We have designed staffing in that way.''
It was wrong to expect all children to reach the same standard at the same time.
''That to me it is a travesty, and Government has said somehow it is the school's fault they have not.''
It was like running the 100-metre event - some would gradually progress towards a certain time, while others would never reach it.
It was an individual child's progress that was important.
''You can't tell that from the National Standards data.
''The emphasis here is on teaching kids and not the standards.''
Raroa Normal Intermediate School used a combination of NZ standardised tests and teacher judgements against the school's interpretation of the nationalstandard, he said.
But it was a nebulous measurement, that would be difficult to moderate nationally.
''Not only is the standard itself open to considerable interpretation, the measure of what constitutes below, well below etc is also open to considerable interpretation.
''There is no way that everyone can ever say to any parent that this child should be reaching the national standard.''
Raroa Normal Intermediate School numbers
0 per cent Well Below
7.05 per cent Below
9.84 per cent At
83.1 per cent Above
0.17 per cent Well Below
14.05 per cent Below
46.49 per cent At
39.30 per cent Above
0.34 per cent Well Below
8.26 per cent Below
10.67 per cent At
80.72 per cent Above
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