Pressing pause on RAS
Annual Conference has called for a pause on the Review of Achievement Standards (RAS) to enable curriculum changes to align better with NCEA changes
The huge changes that lie ahead for secondary education have exciting potential and are absolutely necessary to improve education for kaiako and ākonga alike but we need to take a pause on some aspects to ensure we get the best possible outcomes long term, PPTA Te Wehengarua national executive member, Louise Ryan, told Annual Conference.
Louise moved the NCEA paper which was passed unanimously by delegates. It calls for time out on on the development and implementation of new NCEA achievement standards. Conference also called for the focus of the NCEA review for the next few years to be on mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori, cultural responsiveness, literacy and numeracy and localised curriculum in the existing teaching, learning and assessment programmes.
“In the curriculum refresh we have one of the most significant changes to education we have seen in decades. We are moving towards a Te Tiriti-honouring curriculum and an inclusive framework - a curriculum where all learners can see themselves, that is clear and easy to use, and where nothing is left to chance.
Teachers should be the driving force
“There may be some school of thought that the curriculum is something that the Ministry should be left to work on and then come back to us when it is done. But in fact the opposite is true. We are the experts. We should be the driving force behind these changes. And yet this is not what is happening.”
Publicity around the new Aotearoa NZ Histories curriculum had helped raise some awareness of the changes ahead. “But the refresh goes so much further than this.”
In the next few years, between 2024 and 2026, teachers would not only be required to implement new achievement standards for all three levels, but they would also need to think about their programmes at years 9 and 10 in terms of the new updated, refreshed curriculum.
“Let that sink in. At every year level, teachers will need to be revising, redesigning, reflecting, creating for all of the year levels. Think about the workload implications of this. And when the going gets tough, what will go? What key things will be sacrificed in order for teachers to make it through? Spoiler alert - it probably won’t be assessment.
Opportunity to focus on the curriculum
“We must ensure that we are thinking about local curriculum, that matauranga Māori and cultural responsiveness is at the heart of what we do and that we are all teachers of literacy and numeracy. These must not become things that are thought about once we are designing our assessment - a box to be ticked off.”
A pause would give teachers an opportunity to be involved in the curriculum refresh in a way that isn’t happening now. “This work needs to be led by the experts - us - but it isn’t because we do not have the capacity to do so. By temporarily stopping our work on the RAS we are giving ourselves the opportunity to focus on the curriculum. It will also give us time to re-evaluate the landscape of RAS in order to fix the many significant problems that are emerging in the development and the implementation of the RAS.”
Changes need to be right – not rushed
Louise reminded delegates of what the Minister of Education said at the national secondary education leadership summit in July. “Chris Hipkins told the audience that it was better to get these changes right than do them in a hurry and get them wrong.
“Teachers agree it is crucial we get these changes right. Part of the motivation behind the pause is to ensure that we do it as well as we can with the assessment coming as a result of a well designed curriculum, rather than letting the assessment drive what we teach. Making decisions quickly may mean the standards will need to be revisited and realigned which will just lead to more workload implications for teachers.”
As this issue of PPTA News went to print, PPTA Te Wehengarua national executive was about to consider specific strategies to enable the call for the pause on RAS to happen. Strategies included continuing to communicate the need for a pause with the Ministry and other agencies, politicians, and the public, and developing a revised timeline for the RAS to show the benefits of a sharper focus on mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori, cultural responsiveness, literacy and numeracy, and localised curriculum.
Louise said it was also crucial for PPTA Te Wehengarua members, particularly those who are intimately involved in the development and piloting of the revised draft achievement standards, to understand the need for and benefits of a pause with this work. Executive would develop a plan to communicate with and support members.