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National’s education policy flip-flops again

01 October 2008

National’s education policy flip-flops again

The National Party’s ‘bold’ plan to introduce standardised national testing has been greeted with almost universal hostility in the education sector and now we have seen yet another policy flip-flop from National, says Education Minister Chris Carter.

A month ago John Key and National’s Education spokesperson Anne Tolley were trumpeting standardised national tests as the only way forward in raising literacy and numeracy standards in our schools. A survey released yesterday reveals that most educators condemn this simplistic and discredited strategy.

“Anne Tolley and Associate Education spokesperson Paula Bennett now claim that the literacy and numeracy progressions and other formative assessment tools already widely used in all primary schools in New Zealand, are really what they meant.

“Such a cynical approach to education policy will rightly earn contempt from teachers all around New Zealand.

“National has again shown that they cannot be trusted to keep their word and don’t have any real policy alternatives,” said Chris Carter.

The policy of the Labour-led government on standardised national tests has remained consistent. National testing inevitably leads to a focus on the test rather than a focus on the specific learning needs of the student.

“As seen in Britain, setting such standards also leads to teaching focusing on the small number of students who sit just below the ‘pass mark’ with the intention of ‘getting them over the line’,” said Chris Carter.

The Labour-led government has put considerable additional investment into professional development and classroom tools such as asTTle. This assessment tool provides teachers, students, and parents with information about a student's level of achievement relative to curriculum levels. International experts have praised the evolution of world-class assessment programmes in New Zealand.

“National should be ashamed of trying to marginalise the excellent work happening in our schools to lift the achievement of all New Zealand students.

“National’s latest education policy development is yet another badly disguised flip-flop,” Chris Carter said.

ENDS

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