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Parents Have Right To Information Says Smith

Education Minister Nick Smith says parents have a right to information about the National Assessment decisions made by Government so they can get more reliable information on how well their children are doing at school.

"The approach by some principals in denying parents this information ironically reinforces the need for parents to have independent nationally referenced information on how well their children are doing. The attitude by some principals and teachers that they know best and that parents should be kept in the dark is totally out of step with the modern concept of children's education being a partnership between parents and teaching professionals."

"The excuse by some principals of not distributing this information to parents because it is close to an election, does not wash. They are the same principals who, eighteen months ago, refused to distribute a discussion document asking for parents' comments on assessment. Principals should be about empowering parents not keeping them out of the loop."

"The controversy over the pamphlet is quite unwarranted. The claim the document is political is just rubbish. The content was written by the Ministry of Education. The vast bulk of the pamphlet informs parents of assessment issues like new exemplars, diagnostic tools and the National Education Monitoring Project on which there is wide consensus of support. The pamphlet is an abbreviated form of a more in depth document distribution to all schools, on the Government's decision on national assessment. I challenge any person who questions the appropriateness of the pamphlet to go through the proper process through the independent Auditor-General."

"It is also significant that the Ministry of Education has had inquiries from many schools wanting to take part in the national testing pilot. We have had far more schools express interest in the pilot than have expressed concern about the pamphlet. In every country that National Assessment has been introduced it has been vigorously opposed by the teacher unions against parental wishes. New Zealand is proving to be no different."

"The pamphlet is simply about keeping parents informed on an issue of vital importance to their children's education. Parents are perfectly capable of assessing the merit of the material for themselves and were it electioneering it would backfire. I urge parents to get a copy and judge for themselves." ENDS

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