Our schools make grade - just
South Canterbury just above national averageROSA STUDHOLME
South Canterbury school students are ahead of their counterparts around the country in reading, writing and maths - but only just, according to national standards data released today.
Under the controversial standards, launched in 2010, students are measured as above, at, below or well below the standards in three areas.
A South Canterbury education leader is warning parents not to take the data at face value.
Fairfax Media, of which The Timaru Herald is a part, was able to collate data from 27 South Canterbury schools and about 1000 nationwide in a project it has been working on for the past few months. Fifteen South Canterbury schools did not provide data, among 1000 nationally.
The full national results are available through a link on timaruherald.co.nz or at stuff.co.nz/schoolreport.
The data for South Canterbury shows local schools sit just above the national ratings in all three disciplines.
In reading, 77.8 per cent of local students sit at or above the national standard, one point above the national average of 76.7 per cent.
In writing, 70 per cent of local students were at or above the standard, two points ahead of the national average, and in maths, 73.6 per cent were at or above the standard, one point ahead of the national average.
Fewer South Canterbury students are struggling in the core subjects than students nationally.
In reading, 4.3 per cent of students are listed at well below the standard, compared with 7.1 nationally; 6 per cent are well below in writing compared with 8.3, and in maths 4.9 per cent are well below compared with 6.2.
South Canterbury Principals' Association president David Armstrong said the general view of principals was it would be impossible to compare results between schools.
"They are not designed to be comparative between two different settings. Schools just do what they need to do, and they just use [national standards] as a tool available to them.
"National standards in the schools I know is just one part of their assessment programme.
"Schools use lots of different ways of assessing children and meeting their needs.
"To compare schools on the numbers contained in . . . [the] national standards report . . . is impossible.
"There's no consistent moderation between schools."
Mr Armstrong said there had been limited professional development opportunities for teachers.
"Each school has had to do their best with a tool that hasn't been their design."
He was confident parents and school communities would take a wider view on school achievement.
"I think that people know that these schools give a range of information and . . . national standards are just a part of that.
"Positive aspects are it's always good to be looking at children's achievement and talking about that."
Education Minister Hekia Parata accepted there was "variability between schools" in the quality of the data. However, this was expected to improve.
"We can't continue to keep doing the same things every year for everyone if we want to change the number and range of students who are being successful."
- © Fairfax NZ News