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National Standards approach could publicly identify students

Government's National Standards approach could publicly identify students and teachers

Leaders of principals’ and teachers’ groups say the Government's plans to publish National Standards data reveal that there is a serious risk of publicly identifying individual primary school students and teachers.

The Government plans to publicly report National Standards data at both individual year level and on a region by region basis from 2013, as well as setting regional targets.

Around half of all primary schools have fewer than 150 students so publishing year level data could identify individual students and individual teachers in many cases.

The heads of the Intermediate and Middle Schools Association, the primary principals’ and teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa, the PPTA, the PPTA Secondary Principals’ Council and the NZ Principals’ Federation say this approach will be distressing and unfair for both students and teachers and could seriously compromise their rights to privacy.

The education leaders say it will be particularly unfair on those students who are struggling as well as teachers who are teaching students with more challenging educational needs.

Smaller schools will be particularly concerned as some have one class for some, or all year groups, and many have a small and easily identifiable group of Maori or Pasifika students, who have to be reported on separately.

Boards of Trustees face considerable risks of Privacy Act complaints if they identify individuals in the data.

As a group of professionals, we reiterate that this approach of "naming and shaming" schools, teachers and their students will not raise student achievement. Instead, the Government should look at better resourcing the solutions that we know work.

These include long term solutions where teachers are able to tap into the individual needs and passions of students across a broad range of subjects.

Some countries, such as the United States and the UK, have produced league tables and have found no corresponding improvement in educational achievement for students. In fact, New Zealand students have consistently out-performed students from those countries in international educational assessments such as PISA.

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