Government claims OECD report endorses New Zealand education policy

February 23, 2012 11:41 am 

WELLINGTON, Feb. 23 — New Zealand's government has welcomed an international report that ranks the nation's schools among the best in the developed world in terms of assessing student achievement.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the organization for economic cooperation and development (OECD) report commended the professionalism of New Zealand teachers, "the robustness and credibility" of the NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement, the national qualification system), and the ERO ( Education Review Office, the government agency that assesses schools) model for its approach to school evaluation.

"It also praises our focus on improving teaching and learning," said Parata in a statement.

New Zealand was one of 24 countries that participated in the OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes.

The OECD team visited a range of schools in New Zealand and met with various agencies, academics, researchers, stakeholder groups and indigenous Maori and Pacific Island group representatives, said the statement.

They examined student assessment, teacher appraisal, school evaluation, and the overall system.

"The report endorses our evaluation and assessment practices as being high quality and transparent," said Parata.

"Reporting against (the government's) national standards will enhance this transparency."

The report showed that on average, New Zealand students achieved very well by international standards.

However, the New Zealand education system was still leaving too many learners behind, including far too many Maori and Pacific Island learners, "and this is what needs to change," said Parata.

"The OECD report says national standards will improve information about student achievement and progress, and identify the students who need more support," she said.

"It recommends more work is done to implement the standards, which is exactly what we are focusing on now ensuring the standards are further developed and embedded within our schools."

Parata said the findings of the report would be useful in refining New Zealand's evaluation and assessment policies, to focus on improving learner outcomes.

However, Radio New Zealand reported that the OECD said "not too much" should be read into schools' national standards results, which are provided to the Ministry of Education each year.

The OECD report said the number of students above and below the national standards provided little insight into the quality of a school, according to the Radio New Zealand report.

The OECD report – based on a visit in 2010 – said it was of utmost importance to clarify what kind of information the standards could and could not provide, who should have access to the information and what it could be used for.

The report also called for more work to ensure teachers at different schools were making similar judgements.

On Monday, Parata welcomed another OECD report, which, she said, showed New Zealand students were performing well compared with their overseas counterparts.

The OECD Program for International Student Assessment report assessed whether a country's wealth had a bearing on attainment at school, and singled out New Zealand as a top performer achieving better-than-average results despite its comparatively low gross domestic product. (PNA/Xinhua)

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