Great to see The Herald doing a focus on primary education this week! The first piece in the series seems (from the list at the bottom of the article) to have started life titled “National Standards: A failed crusade?”. Yesterday it was “The $250m National Standards policy – is it working?”. Today it is:
Primary schools in NZ: Is the $250m policy working?
Thousands of children begin secondary school each year without the reading, writing or maths skills needed to make it through. … Six years and $250 million on, Kirsty Johnston asks if the National Standards policy has been worth it.
Six years and $250 million on, with data showing just a small increase in achievement levels, questions are again being asked about the impact of the standards – not just on achievement but on the whole primary system.
National Standards was introduced in 2010 after a successful National Party election campaign. They require teachers to judge children twice-yearly against a four-point scale, and were prompted by concerns that one in five students were leaving school without basic literacy and numeracy skills.
In a 2008 press release, John Key vowed to fix that. “National believes that the first task of our education system should be to ensure that every child from every background can read, write, and do maths at a level that allows them to participate in a modern economy,” he said. Key pledged $47 million towards a literacy and numeracy “crusade”, including $18 million a year in targeted funding for struggling students.
After six years, many believe the standards have only served to highlight already well-documented trends. For example, the data shows the largest differences are between rich and poor. Just half of children at Decile 1 schools met maths expectations at Year 8, compared to 80 per cent at Decile 10. Boys, and Maori and Pasifika children, also lagged behind.
“None of that surprises me. National Standards haven’t told us anything we didn’t already know, and the problems haven’t gone away,” said Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins. “The whole exercise has diverted time and attention away from what really matters – teaching and learning.”
A related article has the numbers:
Primary school pass rates have virtually flatlined despite an six-year government literacy and numeracy “crusade” costing more than $250 million.
Data shows a quarter of children entering high school are below the National Standards in reading, writing and maths.
Of the almost 60,000 students who began Year 9 last year, 17,900 were unable to meet writing requirements, 18,500 were behind in maths, and 12,700 could not read at the expected level, meaning they would have to be rapidly “caught up” to have any hope of passing a high school qualification.
The figures remained largely unchanged over three years, rising an average 1 per cent across all year levels since 2012.
One percent over four years is statistical noise, and these are subjective assessments with a built-in pressure for grade inflation (just like NCEA).
National told us “New Zealand elected a Government that promised to introduce national standards so that every single child could read, write, and do maths when they left school.” It was always a stupid promise. In reality the standards have made no difference to achievement, just as the experts predicted. What a waste of time and money.
(From The Herald)