Primary results may go online

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2012
Hekia Parata
ONLINE: Education Minister Hekia Parata is considering a website to publish secondary schools' performance.

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The Government appears set on publishing primary school performance data, criticised by a teacher union as "junk information".

Education Minister Hekia Parata yesterday said she would consider setting up a website similar to the MySchool resource that operates in Australia.

The Australian example "deals with a number of the concerns that have been rumoured" about the risks of league tables, Ms Parata said.

Comparisons between schools on MySchool were only between "statistically similar schools," giving a fairer picture of performance.

"I think that parents vest a lot of trust in the principals and teachers of the education sector – and so they should – and that trust should be returned by letting parents know accurate information about what's happening," she said.

Ms Parata said parents should visit the Australian website to see what was possible with the national standards.

Under the national standards, children aged five to 12 years old are ranked at, above, below or well below benchmarks in reading, writing and maths.

The standards have been in place in primary and intermediate schools since 2010, but this year schools will for the first time have to send results to the Education Ministry.

The National Party indicated before the election last year that its "next steps" on national standards would include using performance information to "strengthen the accountability of schools".

The Government has also picked up an early childhood education taskforce recommendation for a website giving details about every ECE centre.

"We invest billions of dollars in the education sector and New Zealanders are entitled to know what value we're getting for that money and that means having accurate information available," Ms Parata said.

In a speech to an education conference in Hamilton last month, Ms Parata said she wanted to "encourage professional competition in the context of collaboration".

New Zealand Educational Institute president Ian Leckie said publishing national standards data would lead to league tables that "unfairly and inaccurately" labelled children, schools and their communities and did nothing to improve achievement.

Unlike the NCEA – used in secondary schools – the primary school national standards were not moderated and there was "huge variation" in the way schools were using them.

"It would be a case of junk information in and junk information out," Mr Leckie said.

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"Schools want to be held accountable but that accountability cannot be based on a measure which is neither fair nor accurate, and is very narrowly focused."

- The Dominion Post

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