‘The latest news that Ministry constructed league tables are likely to be used to compare the performance of schools is unfortunate,’ says Paul Drummond President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation.
Since the national standards were introduced in 2008, to lift student achievement, the teaching profession has been in a state of confusion. For three years academics and professionals alike have argued the shortcomings of the standards and especially the inconsistencies, poor quality of their construction and their inability to actually achieve their purpose of increasing achievement levels of low performing children. It is now children’s performance in respect of these national standards that will form the basis of comparing schools.
‘There is a place for league tables’, says Drummond. ‘They are great for sport because you are comparing like teams that compete against each other and you expect winners and losers,’ he said. ‘When you are comparing schools the playing field is completely different. Even the same decile level schools are all different because children all learn at different rates and in different ways. If you wanted schools to compete you’d be encouraging them to pick only the best team,’ he said.
Parents and professionals struggle to find a rationale for the introduction of these new measures when it is well acknowledged, including by Treasury and the Ministry of Educationthat the vast majority of Kiwi kids are doing very well in the achievement stakes.
‘We do have an issue especially with our Maori and Pasifika kids because disproportionate numbers are not achieving as well as they could,’ says Drummond.
‘We can do much better with the right sort of professional development for teachers to implement good culturally appropriate strategies that we know already work and which will enable our Maori and Pasifika kids to succeed as Maori and Pasifika,’ says Drummond.
‘League tables create winners and losers. We want all our kids to be winners and to reach their potential in a healthy rounded way,’ he said.