23 Sep 2012

Minister says school results just part of the story

6:33 am on 23 September 2012

The Education Minister, Hekia Parata, says national standards results published on Saturday don't tell the full story on individual schools.

Fairfax newspapers, including The Dominion Post and The Press, have published standards for more than 1000 primary and intermediate schools.

Tables published in the newspapers and online show the percentage of children in each school who are above, meeting, below or well below expected standards for reading, writing and maths.

Ms Parata says the published material doesn't give the context that would explain how an individual school has achieved its results. She says parents need to acknowledge the information, but at the same time be involved with their children's school.

This is the first time detailed information about individual schools has been made public since the standards came into effect in 2010.

On Friday, the Government released an overall snapshot of national standards achievements and on 28 September will release official school-by-school data.

The union representing primary teachers says it's disappointed the results of hundreds of schools have been published by the newspaper group.

New Zealand Educational Institute vice-president Frances Guy says the data is unreliable and should not be used to compare schools.

"It's on a very narrow range of information, it's based on data that's 'ropey' as the Prime Minister keeps on telling us, and it actually does nothing to improve your child's education."

'Information, not league table'

Fairfax media says the way it has released national standards information from schools is not meant for them to be ranked by achievement.

John Hartevelt, a journalist involved in the compilation, says the information is not there to rank schools by achievement but as a resource for people to use.

Mr Hartevelt said the newspaper group had urged people to use the data in the proper context and not put an absurd amount of weight onto the data as it stands.

Results not full picture, says principal

The figures released by the Government on Friday showed that, overall, 76% of primary school children reached or exceeded the national standard for reading, 72% for maths and 68% for writing.

Maori children are lagging behind in mainstream schools, with 42% failing writing standards, 38% falling below maths standards and 34% struggling with with reading.

However the results do not include kura kaupapa which will have figures published next year.

Te Akatea (Maori Principals' Association) president Para Meha says the data confirms what is already well known.

"Our achievers are really doing well, they're right up there. But we have a cohort there which is quite a long tail, and that tail is predominantly Maori and Pasifika, and I think we need to focus on what we can do to improve their levels of achievement."