12 Feb 2009

Maori student achievement still lagging - report

3:02 pm on 12 February 2009

A Government report says most schools are still struggling to meet the educational needs of Maori students.

The annual report on Maori education, Nga Haeata Mautauranga, says Maori achievement is improving but still lags considerably behind that of non-Maori.

It says 50% of Maori children attend the poorest schools in the country, while only 5% go to schools serving the most well-off communities.

After a year at school, Maori children's reading level is lower than that of all other ethnic groups, and at the end of their schooling 35% leave without qualifications, compared with just 12% of non-Maori children.

There have been been improvements, however. In 2007, 18% of Maori left school with university entrance compared to 11% in 2002, and NCEA data shows growing rates of achievement among Maori.

Maori numbers in tertiary education have decreased from a 2005 peak of 23% to 20%, however there has been a positive shift within those numbers towards higher degree levels.

Education Minister Anne Tolley says while progress has been made, there are still many challenges to overcome.

She says the report validates the Government's policy of introducing national standards and compulsory tests for primary schools.

Ms Tolley says high quality teaching is also key to Maori children succeeding, and the challenge is find a way to attract the "brightest and best" teachers.