Ministry rejects scathing report claiming to expose ‘rot at the core of schooling in NZ’



text: Briar Lipson on The AM Show.


© Video – The AM Show; Images – The AM Show/NZ Initiative
Briar Lipson on The AM Show.

The Ministry of Education is brushing off a new report which claims to have uncovered a “rot at the core of schooling in New Zealand”. 

The New Zealand Initiative says Kiwi kids’ declining success in literacy and maths is down to a focus on the “flawed philosophy” of “child-centred learning”.

“We used to be the envy of the world,” report author Briar Lipson told The AM Show on Wednesday.

“Just 20 years ago we were third in the whole world for reading and maths for 15-year-olds, and since then we’ve done nothing but decline. In reading we’re now sixth, and 19th for maths.” 

At the same time as NCEA pass rates have climbed, our students have dropped in the international rankings. 

“We follow what’s called child-centred learning – that sounds like a

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Ministry of Education rejects scathing New Zealand Initiative schooling report

Lipson, who has frequently written and talked about perceived flaws in the NCEA qualification system introduced in the early 2000s, said children have too much freedom in class in how they learn.

The report “exposes how parts of the research community confuse evidence with values. It uncovers how curriculum and assessment policy rest on a flawed philosophy,” she says. 

“Though we want [students] to be independent ultimately, the route to independence is not to practise being independent. The route to creativity and independence is to do things like learning your times tables, construct a sentence, grammar, do your spellings. We’ve just got the balance wrong.” 

The New Zealand Initiative wants “mandatory standardised national assessments” and charter schools brought back, the curriculum to focus on “disciplinary knowledge, not competencies”, and funding for “quantitative and generalisable research that rigorously tests properly formulated hypotheses about what might raise attainment”.

The Ministry of Education

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Validated by scathing report, HISD special ed advocates question whether state can deliver change

After spending nearly two decades working in Houston ISD and four years fighting to get special education services for her second grade daughter, Nicole Tripp predicted state investigators reviewing the district’s handling of students with disabilities would find extensive issues.

As she expected, the Texas Education Agency released a blistering report late Tuesday that documented numerous violations of special education laws in HISD, findings that mirrored Tripp’s experience as a parent and former employee.

“You’re going to have some factors outside of the district’s control, but I do think that what I saw in HISD, before leaving, was intentional mismanagement that I don’t see in other districts,” said Tripp, who worked in HISD’s special education department from 2000 to 2018, most recently as an assistive technology specialist leader.

The state’s wide-ranging report on Houston ISD’s special education department, the result of an 11-month investigation into Texas’ largest school district, validated

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