2 Nov 2022

Test results indicate pandemic set back children's education by months

8:30 am on 2 November 2022
Exam with uniform school student doing educational test with stress in classroom.16:9 style

Photo: 123RF

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti says test results indicate the pandemic has set children's learning back by months.

Tinetti said schools were reporting lower levels of NCEA achievement than normal and the government had also looked at results from a common set of tests called e-asTTle.

"We've got to be very cautious not to make too many judgements on it because there's a lower number participating in these assessments than what there were before the pandemic but we do take it as indicative and we do know that there are trends that our e-asTTle data is lower in reading, maths and writing," she said.

Tinetti said reading achievement was lower than at the same time in 2019, maths was not quite so badly affected, and writing remained at low levels of attainment as it had been before the pandemic.

"From the small data size that we've seen, it doesn't show that it's quite as bad as losing a whole year but it does show that quite a few months have been lost."

"It's not quite as bad as we thought it might have been overall, however there are groups of young people that we know, and we've had that evidence through from ERO that show that it's been tougher on different groups than others and an example of that would be our Pacific students," she said.

"This has been a much tougher time on Pacific students and therefore they're not achieving at as great a rate and it's quite concerning."

Labour MP Jan Tinetti

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Tinetti said the government's maths and literacy strategy would help schools catch up, as would its $20 million "lost learning" initiative aimed at providing extra teaching and tutoring for intermediate and secondary school students.

The government was looking at evidence of initiatives that would help younger children catch up such as providing more teachers, specialist teachers, and support staff, she said.

"I want to make certain that it's got the evidence that will feed that lift and the appropriate and accelerated lift that we need."

Principals of schools with large proportions of Pacific students confirmed to RNZ that students' learning had suffered.

They warned it could take several years for their pupils to catch up.

Tairangi School principal Jason Ataera said it would be rare for any child in his community to be at the same level they would have been had the pandemic not happened.

"I would hope within three years, more, that we would expect to see students back to where they were," he said.

However, principals of other schools told RNZ the pandemic appeared to have had a minimal effect on children's achievement.

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