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National standards don’t reflect student improvement

Aug 8th, 2014 | By | Category: Latest News


SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT: Pupils at Clyde Quay primary in Mt Victoria are achieving well, says the ERO. IMAGE: Tess Nichol

SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT: Pupils at Clyde Quay in Mt Victoria are achieving well. IMAGE: Tess Nichol

NATIONAL standards are not an effective way to measure kids’ achievement at school, according to a former New Zealand primary teachers’ union president.

headshotLiz Patara (right),  now principal at Clyde Quay primary school says national standards are too broad and fail to show pupil improvements which can be discouraging, especially for children with special education needs.

“You can’t see the progress, necessarily, that kids make in order to actually meet the standard, all you know is that they don’t meet the standard,” she says.

This can give the impression that pupils are doing worse than they really are.

She says Clyde Quay pupils who have English as a second language can struggle for years to meet literacy standards, only to surpass their peers a few years down the track.

Ms Patara says she would like to see the mandatory reporting of national standards abolished.

She says she is tired of having to tell parents their children don’t meet the standard and would prefer to be able to focus on their improvements and successes in other areas.

Children who lack self-esteem are unlikely to make it through high school, she says, so it is essential to make sure every child tastes success before they finish at Clyde Quay.

To this end, she and her staff appear to be succeeding.

The Educational Review Office reported in 2013 that Clyde Quay had an inclusive environment and was supportive of children with different learning needs.

Genuine cultural inclusiveness is something Ms Patara is passionate about as she believes pupils’ cultures can greatly affect the way they learn.

“You’ve got to really think how does their culture and their language impact on teaching mathematics, or how does it impact on me teaching science,” she says.

Pupils at Clyde Quay are achieving well and ERO’s 2013 report says most pupils are either at or above what is expected to reach national standards in all areas.

Ms Patara says that she tries to remember that the Government introduced national standards to lift pupil achievement, but adds that she has yet to see real evidence that they have.

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