Stay Calm – And Scrap National Standards for Education in NZ

I was a bit surprised to see Nikki Kaye come out with this; it is going to be a long three years.

The construction of National Standards for Education made sense to the National government in NZ and many parents but missed the key target for children because it was  unreliable and ultimately distracted from good teaching practice.

Some thoughts of my own in reply:

Labour’s plan to dismantle National Standards shows their disregard for parents and the needs of students around the country, National Party MP Nikki Kaye says.

You will find relatively few professional educators who agree that NS had anything to do with student needs.  Teachers are professionals, perhaps you should have listened to them. Six months in the job and you already know better? What is it you know that undermines other international research and findings?

“Parents need to know where their kids are up to and children need to know how they are getting on. National Standards are a key part of that,” Ms Kaye says.

Teachers are will be able to report more broadly on what students have achieved, which is a better reflection of education. Achievement standards are designed to address this. NS provides a narrow definition of what can and should be learned in school, look at the current NZTALENT debate.

“Families also deserve to know what Labour will replace National Standards with – not be told they are going to overhaul the way our students learn but will get back to you with the details later.”

This presumes that there needs to be a direct like for like replacement for NS. The well designed and informed curriculum we have simply does not need them. There is a need for audit or if you will inspection.

“Labour are showing how little thought they have put into their policy changes, with Education Minister Chris Hipkins still unable to tell parents how his education policy will affect students and parents.”

The removal of NS will allow teachers to deliver a functioning curriculum that provides good reasons for children to read, write and become numerate. NS broke the curriculum by imposing a deliberate focus on skills without context.

Ms Kaye says National Standards provide the Ministry of Education with key information to allow the Government to target interventions and improvements on schools that are not doing well, and focus efforts where they can have the biggest impact on student achievement.

Nope, National has spent most of the time trying to introduce performance related pay; which amply demonstrates how little understanding they have about educational achievement and student development.

“Having National Standards ensures that happens, and Labour’s plan undermines that without having a replacement.

Nope, again this is misleading – achievement can be audited through a number of means other than NS. NS was unreliable, invalid and should have been scrapped for that reason alone.

“This is typical Labour – the party of reviews and working groups. They demand change for change’s sake but don’t have their own ideas about how to take New Zealand forward.”

Pardon? They have listened to the people who are paid to teach and design curriculum, not tried to apply business stupidity to education. This reflects the needs of students not some middle-aged performance driven dogma. Reminder, Charter Schools where an assault on professional education which failed NZ expensively,  in entirely predictable ways. Education is not a free market.

“It’s important we develop the right tools that parents and teachers can trust and have confidence in.”

Agreed that’s’ why we needed a change of government.

“Mr Hipkins has said that National Standards will be gone quickly. Parents and students deserve better than that. We disagree with getting rid of them but for the government to say they are getting rid of National Standards quickly without a fully developed system across all schools is irresponsible.

I’ll repeat the earlier answer, this assumes that an NS replacement is necessary it isn’t. What is required is an audit system that is reliable. National consistent failed to design and provide that, they then punished teachers with it anyway.

“Labour needs to front up with New Zealanders and explain their intentions or admit that once again they have no idea.”

Hipkins has been an associate education spokesman since 2014, he has certificate in adult education and has worked in Industry training. Yes it would have been better to have appointed someone with more teaching/education experience. But he’s probably better informed than the champion of the “Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy”. Disadvantaged students don’t need apps they need proper support that National was unwilling to fund.

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