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National Standards data shows increase but 'disparity still exists'

Published: 9:59AM Tuesday June 11, 2013 Source: ONE News

The latest National Standards data shows an increase in the level of achievement by primary and intermediate students, Education Minister Hekia Parata says.

Introduced in 2010, National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics are designed to provide signposts to teachers and parents of the level of which their children are learning at.

At a briefing this morning, Parata gave credit to New Zealand's teachers, saying that progress is being made "child by child and school by school".

But the opposition says it would scrap the system.

"It's very clear that the national standards data is incredibly unreliable," Labour's education spokesperson, Chris Hipkins, said.

"They're not necessarily comparing apples - different teachers make different judgements."

But according to data, the National Standard in relation to reading in 2012 increased to 77.4%, a rise of 1.2% in comparison from 2011.

With regard to mathematics, the reported achievement increased by 1.4% from 72.2% in 2011 to 73.6% in 2012.

However, the standard for reading received the biggest increase with achievement rising 2% in 2012 to 70%, up from 68% in 2011.

Around 450,000 students were assessed using National Standards.

Parata said that Pasifika children showed the greatest increase on last year, improving by around 3% in all three standards.

"It's great to see that around 70% of children are at or above the National Standards and the increase in Pasifika achievement.

She also said that this year's data gives a more complete picture of education in New Zealand because it includes Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori information for the first time.

"It is also exciting that we now have the Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori information," she said.

"Our children in kura and schools using Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori are generally at a level where they should be for korero, panui, tuhituhi and pangarau, but the information also shows us where there is room for improvement.''

Around 22,000 students were assessed against Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori standards, Parata said.

'Disparity still exists'

However, Parata admitted that shows disparity continues to exist in the education system, in particular achievement is significantly lower for Maori and Pasifika learners than for others, and boys trail girls.

This is the first year that National Standards data has been disaggregated by year level which shows some concerning trends including a decline in the rate of achievement as the year level increases, especially in mathematics.

"This data is extremely powerful for both identifying and providing support to all children, and targeting professional development to teachers to continue to improve their overall judgements against the standards.

"This is only the second year that National Standards data has been reported and we expect the quality to continuously improve each year. It gives us a very comprehensive picture of our system and what we need to be focusing on," she said.

Parata added that a range of support initiatives, such as Reading Recovery and Reading Together, have been put in place to help aid students.

"We expect school leaders and teachers to use their data and to be targeting resources to the areas where extra support is needed.

"We are also looking to introduce the Progress and Consistency Tool for National Standards and Te Waharoa Ararau for Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori later this year which will help support teachers to make reliable and consistent judgements," Parata explained.

Meanwhile, the Ministry has established an advisory group of experts in the fields of literacy and numeracy and asked them to consider National Standards data and other information and make recommendations about what we can do better to address these issues.

"Ensuring each and every child gets a good education is the most important thing our Government can do to raise living standards and create a more productive and competitive economy," she said.

Individual school data will be released later this month on the education counts website along with Regional and Territorial Local Authority analysis.

National Standards and Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori are part of Public Achievement Information available on the Ministry of Education's website.

Public Achievement Information includes National Standards and Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori data, Education Review Office (ERO) reports, schools' annual reports, NCEA data, and relevant national and international reports.

Schools are met to report to parents, families and whanau in writing at least twice a year on their child's progress and achievement in these areas, in relation to the National Standards.