School boards protest against national standards

School boards opposed to the new National Standards have taken a stance and say they are deferring setting student achievement targets based on the new benchmarks.

The Government says they are running a union agenda and children shouldn't be used in a political argument.

The standards are being introduced as a way to find out how students are progressing in reading, writing and maths, with reports sent to parents.

Teacher unions oppose the standards and say the benchmarks don't properly reflect student achievement.

More than 225 boards have formed the Boards Taking Action Coalition, and today called on others to join them. About 2000 schools are involved in the new standards regime and targets are required to be set by the end of 2011.

Island Bay School Board chairwoman Jane Forrest and Balmoral School chairman Simon Mitchell said action was being taken in the interests of children's education.

"As representatives of our parent communities, we are joining with our principals and teachers to say that National Standards are fundamentally flawed, confusing and unworkable and we have no confidence in them," they said.

"So we will defer setting achievement targets based on National Standards until these concerns are addressed."

Teacher unions have called for a delay in introducing the standards so a pilot programme can be run, but the Government has firmly rejected that and says boards that don't use the standards will be breaking the law.

Acting education minister Tony Ryall said there was strong community support for National Standards.

"This is a political action by what appears to be less than 10 percent of schools," he said.

"We have been reasonable, patient and accommodating, and the vast majority of schools are getting on with implementing the standards.

Mr Ryall said the Government was determined to life achievement for all children.

"We can't continue to allow up to one in five children to leave school without the basic reading, writing and maths skills that they need."

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