No more National Standards for schools

The kids have headed back to school and are settling back into the curriculum. But how will parents know how their child is progressing now that the National Standards framework has been removed from schools with immediate effect?

National Standards was controversially brought into effect for primary and intermediate schools back in 2008. Parents, teachers and kids were introduced to the new system and meetings were held at many schools to explain how the changes would affect not only what was reported back to parents, but also how teaching would take place in classrooms. National Standards data was reported back to the Ministry of Education and results were published for each school in the country.

The problem with National Standards

National Standards was criticised for pigeon-holing students and not acknowledging the different ways and pace at which children learn. The National Standards system rated a child’s performance in maths, reading and writing against a set of standards. Children were either “above standard”, “below standard”, or “well below standard”. Some schools adopted different ways to communicate these ratings to parents, often softening the language used in reporting to, for instance, “exceeding standard”, “meeting standard”, or “working towards standard”.

The framework did not reflect on how an individual student had progressed in their own learning. Whilst children were striving to do better, they were constantly compared to an imaginary student who met all expectations.

National Standards also did not take into account other subjects, like science, music, art, technology and practical subjects. Children who were more “hands-on” were forgotten within the reporting. Schools felt pressure to meet targets and in some cases, more resources were seen to be put towards getting those children who were “below standard” over the line, often at the expense of those who were “well below standard”.

What’s next?

Now The Ministry of Education is working with the Government to replace National Standards with a new system that they hope will better refelect the individual progress that a child makes throughout their schooling with a focus on developing key competencies for all.

Until the new system is introduced, schools have been advised by The Ministry of Education to use the tools they now have for reporting on progress and achievement by students.

“Schools and kura will still be required to report to parents, at least twice a year, on their child’s progress and achievement, especially in the foundational learning areas of maths, reading, and writing. But schools and kura will no longer be required to use National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori for this reporting.” The Ministry of Education

General information on how children are progressing on a national level will come from the National Monitoring of Student Achievement (NMSA). The NMSA tests thousands of students on different areas of the curriculum to report on our current education levels and has been in use since 2012.

How would you like schools to report on your child’s learning?


  1. Shelz69 28/02/2018 at 10:16 am

    I never like this, I just hope that they are replaced by something that is easier to understand

  2. danielle2211 27/02/2018 at 9:17 pm

    The phrase national standards was horrible. Although I did like knowing were my kids were sitting but as said in the article it only measured maths, reading, writing. Children learn so much more at school. Seems like all our teachers do is testing can’t be good for the kids been taking off for testing all the time. The school system is always changing it goes back and forward up and down I can’t keep up, do I hope the kids can.

  3. kymmage 26/02/2018 at 3:49 pm

    I’m so glad national standards is gone. I couldn’t share my daughter’s report with her as the language was so negative. Not a reflection on the school, but the system itself. She doesn’t do well in testing but is demonstrating the skills so often she is “below” when the reality is different. Plus she is a perfectionist so it would have knocked her confidence so much. It also was not great for kids with special needs as it judged them against “normal” children’s performance.

  4. SarahBlair 21/02/2018 at 5:39 pm

    As Einstein said: Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.

    Children should be recognised for their individual strengths and not compared to their peers, so I am glad that the educational system is being reviewed and children will be measured by their achievements and not where they are falling short.

  5. Bevik1971 14/02/2018 at 4:40 pm

    It was quite different when I was at school (eons ago lol) and when my son was at school (he is 24 now). Our daughter is 5 and just started school so I’m unsure what systems will be in place for her when she’s a little older. I just hope it’s easy to understand and doesn’t make things more difficult than they already can be for some kids

  6. Mands1980 13/02/2018 at 8:07 pm

    I actually liked knowing where my children were at in national standards. With both my children being behind at one school I tried to get them meetings etc to get them up to standard and one now is. My worry is without them how do I know they are being taught properly and not slipping behind in the class and forgotten about. I just hope they still teach them appropriately for each child’s skill level.

  7. Jen_Wiig 13/02/2018 at 1:31 pm

    I’m really glad National Standards are gone again… Didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to them to begin with but the one time they really stood out esp in the pigeon hole department was last year when my boys (year 6 and year 4 at the time) had their reports come home… They were really good and with all that had gone on that year I was incredibly proud of them both… Then I see Mr year 4 immediately start comparing the graphs and numbers and said… Mum X did so much better than me because he’s above that blue line (the blue line was Nat standards) I was not happy… He had done amazingly and nevermind he wasn’t at “national standards” he excels in Art and sports… Those are his things and he is incredibly good at them!!! Yes his older Bro is abit of a nerd like i was and excels in maths and just about any book type work but man o man those unit standards really were a great way to demoralise a child big time!! Even as a parent having a couple of parent teacher interviews being told in not so many words were went doing our jobs as parents because our son was under the standard made us feel belittled and hopeless.. Can only imagine how it was for kids… Good ridiance I say

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