Otago University College of Education student Sacha Hatton
(21) takes a reading lesson at George Street Normal School
as part of her final course placement. Photo by Gerard
Otago primary schools have outclassed the rest of the
country's schools by recording the highest levels of
achievement in reading, writing and mathematics, Ministry of
Education data shows.
Public achievement information released yesterday showed 124
primary schools in Otago posted the highest percentage of
pupils who were at or above National Standards in reading,
writing and mathematics.
In reading, 83.6% of pupils were at or above National
Standards, 78.9% were at or above the standards in
mathematics, and 76.4% were at or above the standards in
Otago Primary Principals' Association chairwoman Stephanie
Madden said most principals had reservations about National
Standards, but they were delighted with the data.
''These results are confirmation that the quality of teaching
and learning in Otago primary schools is of a very high
''We're very proud of the hard work that teachers, principals
and boards of trustees put in to ensure our children receive
the best possible education.''
She was not surprised by the data because the region had a
strong history of great education, she said.
More than 400,000 primary pupils had their progress assessed
in the subjects last year, and about 75% were at or above
Fifteen of the 16 regional council areas had increases from
2011 to 2013 in achievement against the standards, including
gains for Maori pupils in 14 of those 16 areas.
Education Minister Hekia Parata said the data showed children
throughout the country were doing better across the education
system, compared with results from 2011.
She said it was evidence the Government's moves were making
''a real difference in educational achievement''.
''From early childhood education through to NCEA achievement,
we're seeing meaningful progress.
''It all adds up to kids who will be coming out of our
education system with better qualifications and much brighter
Ms Parata said continued focus on achievement and use of good
information was paying off because it helped identify pupils
who were not doing as well as expected.
''But we need to extend the better use of data and these
innovative approaches to all our schools to ensure more
students enjoy the success they deserve.''
However, University of Otago College of Education senior
lecturer and master's co-ordinator Dr Darrell Latham said
while he believed Otago schools and teachers were exceptional
and among the best in New Zealand, the data should be taken
with a grain of salt.
Information which suggested Otago schools were ahead of the
rest, and that the Far North schools lagged in National
Standards, was ''a flawed comparison'', he said.
''It does not compare apples with apples. Some schools are
more likely to experience the damaging effects of the
National Standards policy than others.
''They include low socioeconomic schools or schools with lots
of English language learners or special needs children.
''English language learners are more predominant in the
northern regions compared to the Otago region, for example.''
Dr Latham said recent New Zealand research into National
Standards showed despite bringing some gains, the National
Standards approach needed to be significantly overhauled in a
way that reduced the potential for damage.
He said Ms Parata's statement that the data was evidence of
the Government's policy making ''a real difference in
educational achievement'' was also flawed.
''This is unrealistic and irresponsible. It is flawed because
of the national and regional variations that need to be taken
into account,'' he said.