Newshub-Reid Research poll: Kiwis send resounding message to Jan Tinetti over literacy and numeracy

Literacy and numeracy rates have been falling for decades but in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, voters have sent a resounding message to the Government: you need to do more.

But Education Minister Jan Tinetti says the Government's efforts are starting to work.

Visiting Ridgway School in Wellington on Monday was a trip down waiata lane for the Education Minister.

"It took me back to when I used to work in schools so I used to be a principal," she said.

She's now the Education Minister and has a very big job of improving Kiwi kids' ABCs and 123s.

"The Government's got it. I know we've got it and I'm really excited about the results we're seeing," she said.

Achievement rates for NCEA level 1 have fallen from three quarters - 75 percent - in 2017 to 64 percent last year. NCEA level 2 dropped from 78 percent to 74 percent, but the number of students who got NCEA level 3 actually increased 65 percent to 67 percent.

Tinetti said actions are starting to work.

The minister pointed to results from the Better Start programme for Years 0-2 children which has been shown to significantly accelerate growth in students' literacy skills.

"I'm absolutely delighted with the results," Tinetti said.

But she won't be delighted with these results. 

In our latest Newshub-Reid Research poll we asked, 'Is the Government doing enough to address falling literacy and numeracy rates?'

A whopping 69.4 percent said no, just 15.6 percent said yes. The rest didn't know.

"We know that there's been confusion over literacy. That's what we are doing at the moment is making certain that we've got this common practice, we've got this common way of teaching," Tinetti said. 

To get kids back to school so they are actually there to improve their ABCs and 123s the Government spent $74 million on an urgent package to employ another 82 attendance officers in term 2.

Last week, Newshub revealed there was a grand total of one who'd started work and 19 contracts sent out.

But on Monday, the minister revealed it was "above that now". Out of 82, there were three, as of last week on Friday. It was going up "on a daily basis".

And on Tuesday?

"Almost seven," Tinetti said.

What does almost seven mean?

"There's part ones as well in some of the contracts so we are almost at seven there," she said. 

National's education spokesperson Erica Stanford said: "She's scrambling to try and make up excuses as to why that's the case. Meanwhile, half of our kids are not attending school regularly."

"We're still in the first part of term 2 so I'm pretty pleased with that progress," Tinetti said. 

At least someone's pleased.