Friday, September 21, 2012
Natiional Standards Solve Nothing
Hekia Parata has released the first statistics available from the collection of National Standards data and was able to claim that 76% of children in years 1-8 were above the Standard for reading, 72% were above the standard for Maths and 68% in writing. Given the flawed, unmoderated nature of the standards this is nothing more than a rough estimate that isn't far off what could have been estimated using other data. Parata also revealed that Maori and Pasifika children scored significantly lower with up to 46% of Pasifika children below or well below the standard and Maori children scoring 42% below for writing, 34% for reading and 38% for Maths.
Parata promoted the data as if we wouldn't have been aware of these concerns without National Standards and yet this knowledge has existed for many years and far more useful assessments have been used in the past to establish it. All National Standards does is give a broad idea of those above or below standards in three areas, with no qualitative detail on what specific areas cause lack of achievement of what teachers could do to address the deficits.
While National Standards has cost around $60 million to force onto schools many programmes designed to address the causes of underachievement have been under resourced or cut altogether. It seem extraordinary that Pasifika children were known to be a group that needed extra support and yet the Government has deliberately cut funding to Pasifika language nests and bilingual support. It has also under resourced Ka Hikitia which was designed to address Maori achievement in English medium schools.
The Government's cuts to the Ministry of Education has also had a direct impact on front line special education staff and resource teachers providing learning support are overwhelmed and underfunded.
The Campbell Live TV item, that compared the lunches between a decile 10 and decile 1 school, starkly demonstrated one of the reasons many children may under perform at school. Poverty is a well established contributor to under achievement and yet any initiative to address this issue has been ignored by the government.
I'm sure there will be more announcements from Minister Parata regarding the "unique" revelations that the National Standards have uncovered, however they are not actually providing new knowledge and they won't make one jot of difference for the children who need immediate support.