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 told Newshub the international rankings Lipson quotes to show an apparent decline in education achievement measure “students’ competencies towards the end of their compulsory education, and a great many factors influence their progress and learning during this time”. 

“NCEA is a measure of student attainment against curriculum expectations,” said associate deputy secretary Pauline Cleaver.

“Since 2009, there has been an 11 per cent increase in those attaining at least NCEA Level 2 or equivalent, and this improvement is even more significant for Māori and Pacific students.

“New Zealand already has an evidence-based approach to teaching and improving literacy learning, and the New Zealand Curriculum already includes both knowledge and competencies.

“We are listening to and working with New Zealand teachers and leaders around what they need to implement the National curriculum to ensure equitable educational outcomes for all students.”

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