August 25, 2006
NEMP Helps Identify Students Strengths And Weaknesses
The education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, says the information provided by the National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) is extremely useful for schools.
“The NEMP assessments provide an informative snapshot of how primary students are performing,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Irene Cooper. “They enable school staff to see where things are going well and where they need to adjust what they’re doing, in order to lift the students’ performance.”
“Our primary schools are very fortunate to have this world class assessment programme providing such valuable information,” says Irene Cooper. “NEMP is far more effective in helping schools improve student achievement than the standardised testing used in England and parts of Canada.”
Experience in England and Canada shows that standardised tests stifle learning because teaching becomes restricted to enabling children pass the tests. Stress levels of children are increased and they become disengaged from learning. This is why education authorities in Wales and Scotland have scrapped the tests in their primary schools.
NEMP is run by the Educational Assessment Research Unit at the University of Otago. Each year around 3000 students are assessed in a number of tasks related to areas of the primary curriculum. Half the students are chosen from Year 4 (age 8 to 9) and half from Year 8 (age 12-13).
The assessments provide detailed information about students knowledge, skills and motivation. This identifies the areas in which their performance is improving, declining, or staying the same. The aim is to use this information to improve the education that children receive.
NEMP reports released today by the Ministry of Education cover three areas of the primary curriculum: mathematics, information skills and social studies. They compare assessments made last year, with assessments made in 2001. The reports also look at Maori student achievement in these three areas.
Students are continuing to improve their performance in algebra and statistics, but there was a
marked decline in the recall of basic number facts and in solving simple number problems. Maths is the second most popular subject for Year 4 students and the third most popular for Year 8 students.
The performance of students’ information skills remained virtually unchanged between the 2001 and 2005 assessments. The internet was the most popular source of information.
There were small increases in the performance of Year 4 and Year 8 students in social studies. The report says students ideas about good citizenship focused on personal and interpersonal qualities, which are important in the classroom and involvement in the wider community.
Māori Student Achievement
There’s a moderate gap in the performance between Māori and Pakeha students at both Year 4 and 8 in maths, information skills and social studies. The gap has decreased in social studies and Maori students performed better than Pakeha students on tasks that relate to their life experiences.
“Schools will use the information in these reports to address areas where a weakness in student performance has been identified, such as the ‘number’ component of their maths teaching,” says Irene Cooper.