New education standards launched
Last updated 11:59 23/10/2009

Prime Minister John Key has launched what he called one of the most important steps his government will ever take, new national standards for schools.

The Government is to spend $36 million over four years to support schools' implementation of the standards.

Key said the country needed to grow its economy and lift its living standards.

"The future of New Zealand does not lie with the government, it lies with the children at school now."

He told teachers, parents and student at Auckland's Glen Taylor School - a decile-one school - that he had grown up in a "very poor" household.

"Being poor does not rob you of hope, having no education does."

Under the standards, parents would twice a year receive school reports on their childrens' progress.

The standards focus on detailed areas that teachers would be expected to test students against at each school level.

For example, after one year at school, students would read The Way it Was by Dot Meharry.

They would then be expected to answer questions from the teacher and provide additional information on the story, such as the use of different colours in the illustrations or the way time difference was depicted.

Teachers would use a variety of assessment activities when they wrote reports and may use samples of students' work.

Students would not be compared to others assessment would measure only their progress and achievement against the national standards.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said the standards would be introduced in all English-based primary and intermediate schools and would involve years one to eight.

"If students have these foundation skills in literacy and numeracy they will be able to learn across all areas of the school curriculum and will be on track to get at least NCEA level 2," she said.

"I'm delighted for the first time (parents) will now have information on what their children should be able to achieve and by when."

Key said the standards were supported by parents, would lift achievement standards and provide "clear signposts" on a child's progress.

One in five students was being left behind and they needed to be identified so they could receive the help they needed, he said.

"Parents want, and deserve, clear information on how their children are doing at school."

Parents could not intervene if they did not know there was a problem, Mr Key said.

"In order to succeed our children must have the very best educational opportunities. National standards will help realise those opportunities."

NZEI president Frances Nelson said it was "problematic" that teachers' and principals' first look at the standards was at the end of the year.

From here.