28 Nov 2013

School study finds national standards damaging

10:33 am on 28 November 2013

The Minister of Education is questioning research that highlights concerns about primary and intermediate students' performance in key subjects.

New research from Waikato University says national standards in reading, writing and maths are overall doing more harm than good and recommends reporting school results should stop

Hekia Parata says the findings support the position that teacher unions already want, and ignore the real achievements of the system.

"National standards do not narrow the curriculum, what it does is prompt the teaching of literacy and numeracy through an engaging programme.

"It is well regarded nationally and internationally and parents want to know how well their child is doing."

The university study tracked six schools for three years and interviewed more than 400 teachers, students and school trustees.

Lead researcher Martin Thrupp says it has found the standards are motivating some children and teachers but overall they are doing more harm than good.

He says the damage includes narrowing the curriculum and increasing teachers' workloads.

"We're also seeing a kind of two-tier curriculum in some ways, where in the lower socio-economic schools, because they're being encouraged to spend more time in reading, writing and maths, that's increasingly their focus."

Professor Thrupp says the Government should abandon its four-point system for ranking children's performance above, at, below or well below the standards and it should stop collecting and reporting schools' results.