Dom Post on National Standards

Today’s Dom Post editorial:

International research shows that New Zealand pupils at year 5 level – the old standard three – read better on average than their international peers.

Education Ministry figures show that more than a quarter of teenagers leave school without the minimum qualifications necessary to undertake an apprenticeship.

One statistic is a credit to teachers, the other a blight on their reputations.

NZ compares, on average, well internationally. Our top students are a match for the top anywhere in the world. But our bottom 20% do far far worse, than the bottom 20% of other countries. The left go on a lot about income inequality – well it would be nice to hear the same concern for education inequality – the gap between our best and worst is one of the biggest in the OECD.

Those conclusions are backed up by an Education Review Office survey of 212 schools last year which found that 70 per cent of teachers teaching first-year and second-year pupils were doing a good job, but 30 per cent had little or no idea of the importance of getting their pupils off to a good start with reading and writing. What’s more, the review office said, those teachers had only a rudimentary grasp of how to teach reading and writing, set “inappropriately low expectations” and passed up opportunities to motivate, engage and extend children.

And the purpose of is not to demonise teachers who are not performing as well as they should. It is to help identify both students and teachers who need assistance.

The new standards should not be regarded as the goal of the education system, but the minimum set of skills with which children should be equipped.

Exactly. The standards are a minimum. They are not a substitute for a comprehensive education.

The existing system is failing a significant number of pupils. It needs an overhaul.

The Government is to be congratulated for acting to provide parents, teachers, schools and education authorities with more useful information. The teachers’ union should stop standing in the way of progress.

Sadly that will not happen so long as the leadership treats itself as the provisional wing of the Labour Party.

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