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Schools won’t want students dragging down results

24 November 2011
For Immediate Release

Schools won’t want students dragging down “National Standards” results

The education sector union NZEI TE Riu Roa says the parents of special needs students should be concerned that schools will now be required to report their children’s achievement against “National Standards”.

The Ministry of Education has changed its advice to schools and says achievement information for special needs students must be included in their “National Standards” reporting. That means schools will be required to measure the number and proportion of all students as above, at, below or well below “National Standards”.

NZEI says not only does that raise serious privacy issues but it could result in schools excluding special needs children if “National Standards” information is used to publish school league tables.

Students with special needs are more likely to sit in the ‘below’ or ‘well below’
categories for their age.

"The result of that will be that in smaller schools, or schools which have a special needs unit, those children will be easily identifiable in terms of National Standards reporting and any public league table which is drawn up,” says NZEI’s immediate past-President Frances Nelson.

NZEI also believes there is a big danger that if the media can publish school league tables based on “National Standards” information, and schools are incentivised if they "perform better", then some schools won’t want students who might drag down their overall school achievement data.

“If the government stands by and allows National Standards information to be used to publicly judge and compare schools, and to reward high-performing schools, then there is no doubt some schools will make a conscious decision to exclude special needs children,” Ms Nelson says.

“These privacy issues, along with the increased school competition that National Standards will promote, again highlight the dangers of a one-size fits-all, tick-the-box approach to education. They also underline the fact that such issues were never thought through in the haste to implement the Standards”

NZEI is advising Boards not to take any action with regard to reporting and submitting “National Standards” information at this stage because of the issues around the integrity of the data and the need to ensure that the privacy of individual students is not compromised.


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