The Road to National Standards

On the 9th of December 2008 the Education (National Standards) Amendment Bill was passed into law[1] under urgency within the first 100 days of the incoming National government by 65 to 47 votes. [2] This bill enabled the Minister of Education, to set national standards in education for New Zealand schools.[3]  In October 2009 the new National Standards (NS) were announced in the areas of reading writing and Math. The standards will be implemented at years 1 through to 8 in 2010 and are designed to have students ‘on track’ to achieve at least Level 2 NCEA which is typically achieved at year 12.[4] 

 National Standards have been subject to fervent criticism from educational practitioners, parents and academics alike. Some key criticisms have been aimed at the theory underpinning national standards. These arguments often suggest that national benchmarks do not correlate to enhancing student achievement.[5] Some argue that they can in fact further exacerbate the gap between low achieving and high achieving students and poorly resourced schools through the development of rankings tables and the labelling of students as ‘below average’.[6] Furthermore, those opposing the national standards argue international experience and research has shown that the implementation of national standards has not resulted in the raising of student achievement that they are often developed for.[7]

 A second key criticism has been aimed at the implementation of the standards. Education practitioners and parents have expressed concerns at the speed in which the standards were legislated and required for implementation in all English medium schools – without trial, in 2010. Concerns have stemmed from what some have deemed a lack in participation by schools and concerned parties in discussing the appropriateness of the standards and their eventuating development.[8]

This site is particularly concerned with the process and outcomes of implementation and how education policy can be better developed if sufficient attention is paid to this area of policy analysis.

See Link for video outlining some of the debates surrounding National Standards

[1] New Zealand Parliament, Questions for Oral Answer, House of Representatives, 16 December 2008, Speaker of the House, 24 March 2010

[2]New Zealand Parliament, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 16 December 2008, Speaker of the House

[3] New Zealand Parliament Education (National Standards) Ammendment Bill – First Reading, Second Reading in Committee 9 December 2008, Hon. Anne Tolley The bill also increased fines for parent condoned and persistent truancy, and allowed the Secretary of Education to assist schools (or independently) to take prosecutions although that is not the focus of this study. 

[4] Anne Tolley, “New Education Standards Announced. 3 News, 23 October 2009

[5] Anne, Storey. ‘The Search for Teacher standards: a nationwide experiment in the Netherlands’ Journal of Education Policy 21, 3 2006

[6] New Zealand Principles Federation. “National Standards Tool to Bash Schools” New Zealand Herald. February 3, 2010

[7] ibid

[8]New Zealand Education Institute. “Crisis of Confidence in National Standards Deepens” Scoop. June 25, 2010

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