Children have 'long way' to reach standards

Case study: Tairangi School

JODY O’CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2012
Tairangi School
Chris Skelton

Many of the pupils at the decile-one Tairangi School in Porirua do speak English as a first language.

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Porirua's Tairangi School faces a tall order before it has even started implementing National Standards.

Many of the 196 decile-one school's pupils are not native English speakers, and it often takes up to seven years to become proficient, while poverty is also an issue.

These factors have made the school cautious on what can be read into the National Standards figures, but also determined to make the system work for its pupils.

"Our children will start below. That doesn't mean to say they can't reach the same end point, but [it will require] a lot more pushing, encouragement and quality teaching.

"I'm not saying our kids can't get there, but they have a long way to go."

Principal Pip Newton says they have put a lot of work into moderating the way pupil's achievements are recorded, but that there is a long way to go.

In the debut year of National Standards reporting, the school used results purely from standardised tests due to a lack of confidence in the consistency of any other data. And it marked "very hard".

This year, however, teachers began using overall judgement and would report these so as to include figures for pupils who were for some reason unable to sit tests.

While the figures for writing and maths were on the low side, an impressive 76 per cent of pupils were at or above in reading.

"There has to be a lot more work done on moderation processes before you can take the data anywhere."

There were so many questions that would take a long time to answer, she said.

She was not against National Standards, it was just not a useful form of "hard data" that the school could rely on to report to the board of trustees, for example.

"It's quite a good thing to have those expectations there but also when teachers talk with parents they should have the information in front of them and use their judgements."

At the moment, if parents wanted a thorough idea of a school's quality, they could get that from ERO reports, she said.

"I think our school is doing very, very well indeed."

Board of Trustees member Liz Peilua, who had two children attend the school, said that until the "kinks are ironed out" the board could not rely on National Standards and would continue to ask for the results from standardised tests.

As a parent, Peilua found it frustrating to be told her child was simply ''doing well'', rather than seeing the figures.

"I just want to know the truth. If they can't show the method and apply it consistently then to me it's not the truth."

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- The Dominion Post

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