National Standards has sent kids' education backwards - Chris Hipkins

  • 13/12/2017

The Government has ditched the National Standards reporting system, blaming it for setting children's education back with excessive testing and "arbitrary hurdles".

National Standards were introduced by the National Government in 2010, aimed at informing parents about how well their child was doing in reading, writing and maths compared to their peers.

But Education Minister Chris Hipkins says it's been a "huge distraction" for teachers.

"They weren't national, they weren't standard, and they weren't measuring a child's progress," he told The AM Show on Wednesday.

"Every major international study... has shown that the reading, writing and maths of New Zealand kids has gone backwards since National Standards was introduced."

His comments come after a new report - the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) - found Kiwi children had dropped from 22nd out of 41 to 32nd out of 50 in 2016.

Education experts agree with Mr Hipkins.

"It's been very adversarial between the teachers unions and the Government and sort of looking at the wrong things, really sort of assessing children without actually looking at how we're teaching them," Massey University Education professor Tom Nicholson told Three's The Project.

Mr Hipkins says constantly assessing children doesn't help them learn.

"The Government ignored all of the advice from the experts when they introduced National Standards.

"It's now time to go back to focussing on a child's progress. A little less testing and a bit more teaching."

National Party education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says Mr Hipkins made the decision to scrap National Standards in "an arrogant way", without consulting with people "to make sure there's something to replace it with".

"The education sector and parents deserve to know the timeline, the process of engagement and have iron-cast guarantees around the replacement system and reporting to parents."

Mr Hipkins says the Government will ensure a better system is put in place, one that will operate with a "light hand".

However Ms Kaye thinks there will be "en masse confusion" when schools start next year.

"We're going to be, I think, a little bit embarrassed internationally, because we're not going to have a nationwide view of what's happening around achievement that's acknowledged by the Treasury."