National education standards need time - Parata

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2014

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National Standards aren't perfect but in time moderation will improve, the Government says.

The release of the latest achievement information for children from early childhood through to school leavers in 2013 shows three-quarters of the 400,000 children tested throughout the country were at or above national standards.

Yesterday, Education Minister Hekia Parata said national standards were still going through the process of moderation in the same way that NCEA had to.

For years NCEA, which is now in its 10th year, polarised the nation while consistency and confidence issues were ironed out.

Despite teachers' original opposition to national standards, Parata said they now experienced greater collaboration than ever before.

While she would not confirm national standards would be the foundation of a new school funding system, she did say the data would help in targeting some funding.

National standards results would allow the ministry to identify specific students and schools that needed investment in particular areas, she said.

Primary school unions have long criticised the standards for lacking consistency and last year a union boycotted the ministry's tool designed to help with moderating teachers' judgments.

Teachers at Rata Street Primary School in Lower Hutt spent more time keeping parents up to date with how their children were doing than collecting national standards data, principal Dave Appleyard said.

"National standards have to be looked at cautiously . . . They're only a snapshot of a student on one particular day."

Comparisons could not be made until the issue of consistency was addressed because currently there was little confidence in the judgments being made by all teachers.

Principals' Federation president Phil Harding said any comparison between schools using national standards was like "building a house on sand".

In three years of recording the data there had only been a "tiny movement of the mean," he said.

"So what exactly is it that we're celebrating?"

A system that measured students within their own school - "not on a national league table" - would be more use to schools and parents, he said.

Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons said parents had been asking for detailed information about their child's learning for a long time.

"Primary schools will get there with national standards but they're doing it begrudgingly.

"There's a political agenda here and it's doing the youth of New Zealand a disservice. They need to get real."

Kapiti College principal Tony Kane said while teacher quality would always make a difference in a school, there was no ignoring that a child's home environment had a big effect on achievement.

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NATIONAL STANDARDS BREAKDOWN

HAWKE'S BAY

Reading

2011: 73.1 per cent

2012: 75.3

2013: 75.3

Maths

2011: 70.2 per cent

2012: 70.4

2013: 71.3

Writing

2011: 65.7 per cent

2012: 68

2013: 69

WELLINGTON

Reading

2011: 76.2 per cent

2012: 77.4

2013: 80.4

Maths

2011: 72.2 per cent

2012: 73.6

2013: 75.5

Writing

2011: 68 per cent

2012: 70

2013: 71.1

NATIONAL

Reading

2011: 76.2 per cent

2012: 77.4

2013: 78

Maths

2011: 72.2 per cent

2012: 73.6

2013: 75

Writing

2011: 68 per cent

2012: 70

2013: 71

- Stuff

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