Scrapping National Standards – the regulatory process

Scrapping National Standards is straightforward and can cause minimal change to school practices this year.

 By removing the requirement in the National Administrative Guidelines (NAG2A (b) and (c) and NAG 8)[1], the Minister can revoke the requirements for National Standards reporting.  There is no requirement for a change in theEducation Act to do this; Cabinet has the power to amend or revoke administrative guidelines.

As was the case last year, National Standards data would not be required to be submitted to the Ministry until March 2018 anyway.   A recent Ministry circular stated:  “There is no requirement to include Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori/National Standards (NAG2A (b) and (c)) information in your annual reports. The NAG2A information is only required to be submitted along with your school charter and analysis of variance before 1 March”.[2]

The Education Act was amended by the National Government in early 2017 to cement National Standards more firmly into legislation going forward.   However, none of the new planning and reporting in the Education Act, including around National Standards,  was due to come into force, if at all, until 2019.[3] The incoming Labour-led Government will need to make changes to the Act before then to remove references to National Standards (for example, in Sections 60A and 61 of the Act[4]).

NZEI’s advice

Schools should carry on with their current reporting format for parents and BoT level reporting through to the end of 2017, but should not collate National Standards data on their SMS or submit it to the Ministry.

What “replaces” National Standards?

The National Government claimed National Standards would lift student achievement by giving policy makers more information about the “health” of the system, giving schools more information about student achievement and giving parents information in plain English about their child.

 National Standards have not lifted student achievement significantly because it is quality teaching, not measuring, that underpins student progress.   

 National Standards should be replaced by:

- national sampling studies across the curriculum that provide a check on the health of the system without over-assessment of students

-  robust national assessment tools such as PAT or e-asTTle and effective programmes for addressing under-achievement that most schools have always used and that can give BoTs and school leaders confidence about student progress and achievement at school level  

- richer and more comprehensive reporting to parents than the narrow quantitative focus on targets for numeracy and literacy.  Rich assessment focused on the individual child and their learning needs, assessment which allows a teacher to use their professional judgment and knowledge of the child, is a core component of the way New Zealand primary schools operated before National Standards -- and has continued to be "best practice" in schools in the past few years. 

NZEI has also asked the Minister to support and resource a re-launch of the NZC and Te Marautanga with associated professional learning and development so that teachers can build confidence in their knowledge of the curricular and be confident in their use of assessment for learning.  The rationale for this is that the NZC has been undermined by National Standards since their introduction into primary schools. A relaunch would send a clear signal that our curriculum needs to be at the forefront of the learning design and implementation for students.

We encourage teachers to meet with the professional leaders in schools to review their current use of assessment and to determine the appropriate tools and professional learning required going into 2018.   This might include a focus on these issues during teacher-only days and school meetings, including meetings with BoTs and parents.

 We also encourage Communities of Learning to review their “achievement challenges” in the light of scrapping of National Standards.  This is an opportunity to refresh goals and strategies and ensure they are authentic to the student needs in your community.

Bookmark and Share