International reading results show damage caused by National Standards

6 December 2017

New Zealand students dropped noticeably in their reading ability following the introduction of National Standards, according to results in an international report released today.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) has highlighted the damage caused by a focus on reading, writing and mathematics, to the detriment of the broader curriculum.

New Zealand ranked 33rd out of 50 countries, and eight places lower than in 2011.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said international research had repeatedly shown that focusing more on the “3Rs” and less on science and the arts had an adverse effect on progress in reading, writing and maths.

“Studies in New Zealand have also shown a narrowing of the curriculum following the introduction of National Standards, so these disappointing results really come as no surprise,” she said.

Ms Stuart said the government’s promise to scrap National Standards was great news for students, but schools were still waiting on clear guidance and assurances that they would no longer be required to forward National Standards data to the Ministry of Education next March.

“We’ve also asked the government to re-launch the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and prioritise professional learning for teachers to help them use them effectively,” she said.

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