Posted by: blogger on 04, Feb, 2010
By Winged Avenger
2010 should be all about the NZ curriculum. Instead, the government is determined to railroad teachers into focusing on national standards.
Secondary teachers already know the downsides of too much summative assessment and league tables, both of which are key features of the national standards.
Teachers want to use the NZC as a platform for developing great teaching for diverse learners; parents want plain-English reporting of their kids’ progress. Neither group needs the national standards to achieve these goals.
It’s not unexpected that the debate has already turned to teacher-bashing. However, the real conversation needs to be about the new curriculum and understanding how this offers an excellent foundation that will continue build NZ’s quality education system. We need to remember that, while it’s important to tackle variable student achievement within schools, our education system and our new curriculum are held in high regard internationally.
Why is the government allowing Maori-medium schools to trial national standards? Why are they ignoring calls from NZEI to run trials in mainstream schools? Why the double standard? This smacks of political expedience and an increasingly uneasy alliance with the Maori party. Key is known as a pragmatist but this could be a new low. Similarly, Pita Sharples would do well to follow what he knows, both through evidence and from his heart: national standards won’t do the job the government wants done and are likely to damage kids who become labelled as “below the standard” from early in their schooling. He knows, too, that about 95% of Maori kids are in mainstream schools. We want improved achievement, not new labelling, for all learners – and the unpleasant statistics already show that Maori kids are over-represented in the learning tail.
National standards asks teachers to narrow their focus and to ensure that preparation for summative assessments dominate their classrooms. The NZC offers teachers the opportunity to broaden teaching and learning opportunities and to ensure kids’ learning is at the centre of their programmes. PPTA’s background paper on the national standards makes this clear.