After years of being the bane of parents of primary and intermediate school students, the Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins today finished off National Standards. In doing so he keeps a key education policy promise made by the Labour Party before the election.
On the whole I support the ending of National Standards. I do however have concerns that perhaps this could have been ended after working with schools and parents to develop an alternative mechanism to guide reporting on students performance.
My thinking is that primary school students should not be subject to assessment in the same way as high school or even intermediate students are. Primary schools have more fundamental – you might say basic tasks such as introducing students to basic mathematics, English, science . Primary schools as I found out first hand from having developmental difficulties with with my speech and writing are among the first places of education likely to pick up on students with writing and speech difficulties. Mine were picked up early enough to be minimized. However this only happened because of close co-ordination between my school and my parents, as my school was keen to learn incase it could pick up signs in other students. And did.
Given the range of basic criteria in the development of a student that they have to monitor, is adding formal assessment not just unnecessarily burdening the teaching staff and placing undue expectations on the student-teacher relationship?
When I was at primary school, sure each Friday in Year 6 we had a maths test where the multiplication table we had been working on for the week would be tested as well as our spelling. However I do not recall any other except a run (or in my case walk)around the block being timed. Yes, teachers want to be able to say “Your child is doing this, this and this in these subjects”, but in terms of recognizing serious academic success is Primary School the time or place in a students education to be setting down formal assessment?