Here come the National Standards
Educators and parents will hold a range of opinions on this initiative, which was one of the platforms the current government campaigned on.
The Ministry of Education has set up a parents' web page where parents can view some of the proposed material and importantly, give feedback. There are also consultation meetings being held across the country. I am not convinced that they have worked out enough of the details to hold meaningful consultation but will hold off on judgement until next week.
I believe one of the most important things for us all to do as the National Standards are rolled out is stay true to our schools' values and beliefs about powerful learning.
The NZ Curriculum is all about school communities establishing what they value and believe about education, I already worry because I hear principals and teachers engaging in negative thinking. Nobody has told us we now have to 'teach to the test' and sacrifice our local curriculum.
As professional educators we must use our knowledge of child development and education to raise standards of achievement. What are we saying about ourselves when we say that because of the existence of National Standards we can no longer use the teaching practices that we believe our kids need? We decide how we teach. If we believe we are making a difference for children then we should keep on doing so.
I have many unanswered questions about the National Standards. I worry about the media using results to produce 'league tables' and unfairly rank schools. I worry about the potential disruption to the long and well thought out NZ Curriculum implementation process. I worry about clumsy and simplistic measurement of complex child developmental areas such as reading. I worry about the 'value added' to children at school not being captured in simplistic National Standards.
But most of all I worry about teachers and principals throwing in the towel and not innovating because of the existence of the National Standards. If we expect a doom and gloom, 'teaching to the test' system then we will get one - because we are the ones who will decide to deliver it.
Continue to be excited by, and proud of, our revised NZ Curriculum and don't take your eye off the ball. A 'key competencies' driven education system is what this country needs for its future survival. The merely literate and numerate are the new poor. The thinkers, relaters, self-managers, contributors and participants are the new leaders.
Don't sell out our children's futures because of the National Standards.