Thursday, August 26, 2010

Education Ministry to educate parents on National Standards

The Ministry of Education has sent brochures to boards of primary schools for them to distribute to parents to educate them on how children can meet the various National Standards. Apparently these weren’t sent to schools, they were sent to board chairs instead – perhaps to ensure that principals unsupportive of National Standards - which appears to be most of them - didn’t throw them in the bin.

I’ve read the National Standards and the brochures. While the brochures are good and explain what children need to do to improve their learning, they fall a little short in reflecting the Standards. However they do reflect aspects of the National Curriculum. For example, in discussing reading standards at Years 4 and 5, the brochures (see Year 4 [PDF] and Year 5 [PDF] state
that to meet these Standards, children will know what they want to read, they will “read smoothly, like taking”, recognise and understand information in different kinds of books, and understand different levels of meaning.

But the actual Standards for Years 4 and 5 demands that students will read, respond to and think critically about texts. It states they will locate, integrate and evaluate information on ideas as they work at Level 2 and towards Level 3 of the New Zealand Curriculum respectively. That’s just to meet the standard.

It is unclear why the Ministry wants to communicate to parents on National Standards without reference to documents like this [PDF] that attempts to explain what the Standards actually are. It is also unclear why the Ministry does not appear interested to advise parents what children need to do to exceed these standards. It is also unclear what the Ministry is expecting schools to do, because the leaflets say one thing, the Standards another, the Minister, something else altogether.As this indicates, Anne Tolley is deluded.

Meanwhile schools are grading kids as either “meeting” “working towards” or “exceeding” National Standards when they are not even required to grade kids in this way for the purposes of reporting to parents.




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