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New Assessment Policy For Primary Schools

Education Minister Nick Smith today announced Government decisions on a new assessment policy for primary schools that includes new diagnostic tools, the development of exemplars of pupils' work across the curriculum, a strengthening of the National Education Monitoring Project and the piloting of a new national test in literacy and numeracy for pupils in years five and seven.

"Parents, teachers, schools and Government all need better information on how well our children are learning so we can focus on achieving excellence for all pupils. Better assessment is essential if we are to reach our goal of having all nine year olds able to read, write and do maths. We do our children no favours by fudging."

Reports this year from the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office show that some schools are fudging children's achievement and giving parents misleading information, producing large quantities of assessment information of questionable quality and not effectively using assessment information. SEMO Evaluation Report, May 1999

Report of the Literacy Taskforce, March 1999

ERO Report on Student Assessment: Practices in Primary Schools, Number 2 Winter 1999

"These issues of assessment are of vital importance and are not unique to New Zealand. The worry is that we are behind the pace. Every State in Australia has National Assessment. So too do England and the vast majority of states in Canada and America."

"Measuring educational achievement is difficult, but not impossible. We need more than a single tool. We also need to give careful attention to how we manage the information so it is a constructive influence in our drive to achieve excellence. That is why we have decided on a pilot of national testing. We are determined to get the detail right. The pilot will involve 10% of all schools and will begin next year. A research team will evaluate the test data and how schools use them. The pilot will provide information for a Government decision on the future role of such externally referenced tests."

An information pamphlet titled 'How is Your Child Really Doing at School?' is being sent to all parents of primary school children in the first week of the new term. A document which explains the new assessment policy fully, 'Information for Better Learning', is also being sent out to all schools. Both will be available on the Ministry's website (www.minedu.govt.nz).

"This assessment policy is all about bringing useful information and greater clarity into our schools to help all young pupils succeed." ENDS

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