Schools where children are failing exams could be taken over
by the Government as the Education Minister warns staff need
to be held accountable for students' performance.
The availability of more data on how schools are faring, such
as national standards results, would help that happen. The
scenario has been dubbed "frightening" by one principal,
while another said schools should not be blamed for
situations beyond their control.
School interventions - where powers are taken away from a
board and put in the hands of a statutory manager or
commissioner - usually take place after major staffing,
safety or financial issues. But Education Minister Hekia
Parata signalled a different approach could be needed.
"It's interesting that we are not putting in interventions
when learning is not occurring ... I think we need to be
moving much closer to that."
Ms Parata said that although the option to intervene because
of educational performance was already there, better data and
information meant it was now easier to make a call to do so.
There were 70 schools under the control of statutory managers
or commissioners at the start of this month.
Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons said
the message that schools would be taken over because of
student achievement data would be a "frightening scenario"
for many. However, he said if such information was used
carefully - to help collaboration between high and low
performing schools, for example - the Government's focus on
data could benefit schools and students.
Allan Vester, chairman of the NZ Secondary Principals Council
and head of Edgewater College in Pakuranga, said care would
need to be taken to properly understand what the data was
showing and measuring.
" ... the minister needs to make sure that it does not become
a process of blaming schools for situations beyond their
National standards describe what students should be able to
do in reading, writing and mathematics as they progress
through levels 1 to 8, the primary and intermediate years.
Problems with the data were underlined in a ministry report
this month which found teacher judgments on children's
relation to the standards lacked dependability.
But Ms Parata said those issues would be ironed out as the
standards were bedded in. By themselves they would not be
used to justify any action, but would form a case together
with Education Review Office reports and other information.
- Nicholas Jones of the NZ Herald