Herald on National Standards

The NZ Herald editorial:

That is particularly true of written reports to parents. National has promised to make those more specific and useful. The Government should not compromise that policy for the sake of pacifying a sector of state servants who can make its life difficult. Mr Key and his minister are not confrontational politicians. They are likely to accommodate teachers’ preferences where possible.

John Key is not by nature a confrontational politician, indeed. He does like to get people to agree on what they can, and agree to disagree on other stuff.  But he may find that there is no middle ground with some of the teacher unions.

But a trial is not needed. Those typically take years to bear fruit. Voters have endorsed the idea of rigorous at all levels and clear reporting to parents. Is that really so hard? Primary schools are testing pupils for their own purpose all the time. Now they will have to share the results with parents.

A trial would be a disaster. It would be worse than the bulk funding trials of the 1990s. The teacher unions would use the trials to bully and threaten schools to not take part and/or to declare they are a failure. There is absolutely no chance at all that at the end of any trial, the position of the teacher unions will have changed at all. It is a delaying tactic.

The battle with educational failure has just begun. The Government must not give it up now.

Such a fuss over what is a pretty minor requirement – simply to tell a parent in plain English if their child is above, at, below or significantly below the level of numeracy and literacy expected for someone of their age.

This is not some abstract battle. A huge number of kids reach secondary school unable to read, write or do maths. They invariably are the ones who drop out, who feature in the crime stats, who go onto welfare rather than into work. And by the time they are in secondary school it is too late.

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