Thursday, February 25, 2010
The push for standards continues!
A satirical story from a guest writer. See his Sione story
National Standards Extended
In a press conference at which she appeared today the Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, announced the extension of the Government’s National Standards’ policy. Anne Tolley was without the support of the Prime Minister, John Key, when providing the details of the soon to be introduced policy.
The Minister referred to the outstanding success, and the universal acceptance, of the introduction of National Standards into New Zealand primary schools and described the improvement already apparent in the achievement of students in the nation’s schools. She noted that the embracing of this key initiative by teachers, parents and boards of trustees members was only surpassed by that of leading editorial writers across the country. In spite of the narrowing of the curriculum Anne Tolley said it was quite clear that if we wanted to catch up economically with Australia it was important that students were able to read, write and do maths at the levels expected by the national standards. When asked about the need for students to be able to undertake thinking type activities and to be able to build on their talents to become life long learners Ms Tolley stated that it was this type of woolly thinking that had seen New Zealand students only performing in the top 10% of school’s world wide when they could have been doing even better.
The new standards will be applied to pre-school children where the Government will set up a range of assessment criteria to check that all children are walking and talking by an age appropriate time. When questioned about the criteria to be used to undertake the required national testing process the Minister said that the leading New Zealand academic Professor John Hattie, who already advises the Government, will be developing the necessary criteria and has in fact already set up a team of academics to assist him in this process. The Minister noted that this group had all the required qualifications to guide the pre-school sector and that none of those involved were in fact practicing pre-school teachers as this type of reference group had proved to be so effective in the primary sector.
It is intended that all pre-school facilities, excluding kohanga reo, will implement the required testing next term and that the plain English reporting of results will be given to parents once testing is completed. For those children not attending a pre-school facility the Government has signalled that Plunket Nurses will visit homes on a regular basis to undertake the testing and ensure that children are meeting the relevant walking/ talking objectives at the appropriate age. When questioned about those parents who do not support this policy the minister stated that she has had talks with the Minister of Social Welfare and that it was possible that the Government would examine all cases where parents refused to co-operate and would consider stopping any benefit payment or Working for Families supplements should this be necessary.
“The importance of children walking and talking by the correct age cannot be over- emphasised,” said Anne Tolley, “and we as a Government intend that this shall be the case.”
When asked about other developmental skills such as running and catching a ball and social skills such as politeness and co-operation the Minister said she had no plans yet for these to be assessed however it was clear from the work being done by the academic group that these areas could be included in the future. The community’s support for this policy was overwhelming stated the Minister and she was determined to address the achievement tail which sees children entering our primary schools still unable to undertake quality physical education and/or talk clearly and confidently. “These standards and the related testing will solve these problems,” said Anne Tolley.
“The on going change implemented by the Government and its driving of this change through appointed groups who have no immediate involvement in the day-to day educational provision of education continues to reflect the enlightened policy for which this Government will be remembered,” said Anne Tolley.
At the time of publication no response had been received from the NZEI, the union representing a large number of pre-school teachers, nor from any other pre -school organisation although it is expected that these groups will oppose the proposed changes purely on a philosophical basis as they threaten the protected status these teachers enjoy.
press release ends