'Dubious' results from key tests
Tests 'don't reflect children's abilities'JONATHAN CARSON
At least two Waikato schools are refusing to use key reading and writing tests amid concerns they are seriously flawed and do not accurately reflect pupils' ability.
The STAR reading and e-asTTle writing tests, used by many primary schools in the region and about 80,000 students nationwide, are believed to have been returning dubious results since they were updated last year.
And some principals say pupils are achieving unusually high results in the tests, which are used to rank them against national standards.
Deanwell School principal Pat Poland said some students were found to be two years ahead of where they should be when tested in November.
"Those tests have been updated and all of a sudden our children are doing much, much better.
"The Government will think this is wonderful, they'll be able to trumpet the fact that national standards have made a difference."
He said he would not be using the tests until the Ministry of Education could assure him they were accurate.
"The bottom line is neither test can be trusted at this stage to give accurate representation of where a child's at."
Ministry senior manager Chris Harwood said the e-asTTle test was updated as part of an ongoing review process.
He said the test was not designed to be easier and the ministry was considering what, if any, action needed to be taken in response to principals' concerns.
New Zealand Council for Educational Research manages the STAR test and general manager products and services, Graeme Cosslett, said he was "completely confident" of its robustness.
But he said the way results were reported may be confusing for some schools. "Actual data from the thousands of students who trialled the test shows students do not achieve higher results under the revised test," he said.
Te Kowhai School principal Tony Grey said the STAR test results had improved but there were valid reasons for it.
"You just need to read the manual in a bit more depth."
However, Waikato Principals' Association chairman John Coulam said the latest results for the reading and writing tests were "totally unrealistic".
"When you've got a whole class going up a couple of [levels] based on these tests it just means something's wrong. From our school's point of view we will not be using the STAR test again until it's got some validity around it," Mr Coulam said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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