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National testing key to raising standards

National testing key to raising standards

New Zealand must introduce a system of nationwide assessment in literacy and numeracy to ensure every child learns to read, write, add and subtract, National Education Spokesperson Dr Nick Smith said today launching National's Education paper "Schools of Excellence".

"The way we tolerate tens of thousands of children never learning to read or write is tantamount to child abuse. We're kidding ourselves that our education system is doing well, when the international data shows our average achievement in literacy has slipped from first in 1970 to 13th in 2003, and our disparity of achievement has become amongst the widest in the developed world," he said.

"Nationwide testing provides the objective information on children's literacy and numeracy to drive good teaching practice in the classroom, resourcing for recovery programmes and accountability to school management. The experience internationally and the research in our own South Auckland schools is clear in showing the benefits of regular assessment. New Zealand must put in place these proper quality assurance systems.

"Choice of schooling is also important to raising standards. The paper proposes the removal of rigid zoning and changes to school funding that will make an integrated or independent school a more realistic choice for families.

"National believes there is a crisis in boys education on the basis of the growing disparity of achievement and international comparisons. The gap between our boys and girls achievement is among the largest in the developed world. We are proposing a Commission of Inquiry to identify the changes in teaching styles, assessment and school management needed to lift boy's achievement.

"Other ideas canvassed in the paper are tighter standards for teacher education, a compulsory second language of a student's choice at Intermediate age, social workers in schools, a firmer approach to truancy, parent education programmes and greater rewards for achievement in school examinations.

The paper is being distributed to all schools and Dr Smith will be engaging in a national road show during the next term discussing the ideas. National is seeking feedback on the paper at www.national.org.nz .

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