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National standards threaten NCEA

Media Release October 23, 2009
National standards threaten NCEA

The minister of education’s insistence on a limited three R’s focus for the so-called “national standards” will jeopardise students’ achievement in NCEA, PPTA president Kate Gainsford says.

International evidence shows that numeracy and literacy skills are best developed using targeted teaching strategies across a range of subjects – including Technology and the arts.

Despite this, Anne Tolley plans to deny support for these subjects in primary and junior secondary schools – at the risk of sending students into year 11 ill-prepared for NCEA.

“Tolley’s plan creates a huge risk that primary teachers will feel pushed to focus almost entirely on numeracy and literacy in isolation, instead of developing them within the context of a broad-based curriculum,” Gainsford said.
Schools have been putting a huge effort into preparing for the new curriculum, which they will be required to implement from 2010.

“It is a curriculum that is considered internationally as one of the best in the developed world, but all that effort will go to waste if schools shift their focus to narrow approaches to literacy and numeracy,” she said.

The withdrawal of advisory support services for anything other than literacy and numeracy in primary schools from next year would exacerbate this problem.
Support for the junior secondary curriculum is also likely to disappear, she said.

“The last thing primary and secondary schools need is to be forced to focus on assessment at the expense of learning.

“The withdrawal of support, combined with Tolley’s failure to acknowledge the development of the new curriculum, which puts students at the centre, is disappointing,” she said.

“We cannot afford to ignore the needs of students as they enter secondary education. Engagement data shows this is a critical time for students, as the make the transition from primary schools and adapt to the challenges of specialist subject provision.”


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