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What are National Standards really being used for?

What are National Standards really being used for?

24 July 2014

The National Government needs to come clean about its plans to link controversial National Standards data, such as those released today, to future decisions about school funding and teacher pay.

The 2013 National Standards data shows marginal improvement in results across the narrow part of the curriculum being measured – reading, writing and maths – but NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said the latest results were just as unreliable and meaningless as the previous data.

“Teachers still have no faith in National Standards, but use them simply because they have no choice,” she said.

“What the results show is what they have always shown – the strong link between socio-economic background and student achievement. We are more concerned about how the government plans to use this dodgy data in the future.”

In March, Education Minister Hekia Parata told the Herald on Sunday newspaper that the government was looking to fund schools according to the progress students made in National Standards. The Minister also told media when the government’s “Investing in Educational Success” policy was announced in January that National Standards would be used to measure the success of the proposed “communities of schools”.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Judith Nowotarski said that with the General Election approaching, the government needed to front up to parents and teachers about its plans.

“This is an election year and New Zealanders have a right to know what the government’s real plans are if it wins the election.

“We challenge the Education Minister to assure voters that there is absolutely no intention to move towards a system that funds schools or teachers according to National Standards performance,” said Ms Nowotarski.

“Schools should be funded according to the needs of their students, to ensure equal education opportunities for every child, regardless of their background. I can’t imagine anything more unfair than taking funding from schools in disadvantaged communities and giving it to schools where kids are already making great progress thanks to their socio-economic background.

Ms Nowotarski said such a move would be absolutely disastrous for education in this country and children would end up as the collateral damage.

Ms Nowotarski said teachers and parents were not impressed with the government’s plan to spend $359 million on four highly-paid new roles as part of its “Investing in Educational Success” policy. Surveys have shown that teachers and parents would prefer supporting children more directly through smaller class sizes, more special education support and high quality early childhood education.

“Ultimately, the real question parents and school communities want answered is when will the government address the real causes of educational underachievement – poverty and inequity - instead of doggedly pursuing its ideological experiments in education,” said Ms Nowotarski.

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