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Minister Looks For Ways To Avoid School `League Tables'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Anne Tolley
Anne Tolley

Wellington, June 29 NZPA - Education Minister Anne Tolley says she is looking for ways to report national standards assessments without the information being used to create school "league tables".

Primary school principals have threatened to withhold results from national standard assessments unless they are given an assurance the information won't be made public and used to rank schools against each other.

From next year, the progress of primary school children in maths, reading and writing will be assessed against government-set standards.

Principals and teachers strongly oppose rankings which would show some schools were more successful than others.

Ms Tolley said tonight she was in the middle of a consultation process with schools and parents on how to collect and report national standards information.

"I welcome views from parents and educators on how best to do this -- including on how we could shape those reports so they don't lead to league tables," she said.

"I'm open to suggestions from the sector on how this information should be collected and reported."

Ms Tolley said the Government could not prevent national standards information being released publicly, because to do so would contravene the Official Information Act.

"The debate on so-called league tables is a sideshow to the real issue of meeting parents' desire to bring in national standards that will help lift student achievement," she said.

"Parents demand clear and direct information about their child's progress in fundamental skills. That is their right, and I intend to deliver for them."

She said schools would assess students against the standards and convey that information to parents in plain English.

"It is not standardised national testing, as the New Zealand Principals' Federation continues to claim."

Earlier today Labour's education spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said he would tomorrow meet principals and the primary teachers' union, the NZEI, to discuss possible solutions to the problem.

"Anne Tolley has created a stand-off between herself and schools over her insistence on obtaining information that could be used to form league tables of schools that would pitch wealthy schools against those from low decile areas," he said.

Mr Mallard said the Ombudsman recently appeared before a parliamentary select committee and confirmed that a minor law change could prevent data being compiled in a way that would lead to league tables.

Ms Tolley said Mr Mallard was misrepresenting the Ombudsman's position.

"The Ombudsman recently told a select committee, in response to questions, that a law change would be needed to prevent publication of information that could lead to league tables," she said.

"But he argued for proactive release of the national standards information, as district health boards do with health data."

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