-The information in this article was sourced from an article by RNZ which was published on NZHerald-
Education in New Zealand has become a hot topic as the country gears up for a general election. Experts are divided on the state of the education system, with differing views on the severity and causes of the issues.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon has voiced concerns about low pass rates in literacy and numeracy tests, year eight students falling short of curriculum expectations, and New Zealand’s ranking outside the top 10 in international assessments for reading, maths, and science.
Dr. Nina Hood, the founder of Education Hub, supports Luxon’s concerns. She highlights a decline in international assessments over the past two decades, affecting students across achievement levels, even though domestic testing hasn’t shown a decline.
By year eight, many students are performing below the expected curriculum level, with only 56 percent meeting the reading standard, 45 percent in maths, and just 20 percent in science, according to Hood.
However, not all experts agree on the extent of the issue. University of Auckland’s Associate Professor of Education, Aaron Wilson, argues that most of the decline in international tests occurred a decade ago. He believes that New Zealand still outperforms the OECD average for high-achieving students and emphasises the need to address inequalities and improve outcomes for lower-performing students.
University of Auckland Education Professor Gavin Brown suggests focusing on New Zealand’s own assessments and adopting explicit teaching methods to strengthen students’ foundation in reading and maths by age 10.
Charles Darr, Chief Researcher at the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, points out that data shows stability rather than significant improvement or decline in student achievement. He cautions against jumping to crisis mode, as it may lead to unhelpful reactions.
The Ministry of Education’s summary reveals challenges in primary education, including mediocre performance in maths and science by year five, lagging reading scores compared to other English-speaking countries, and over half of year eight students not meeting expected curriculum levels.
New Zealand’s education system is a topic of debate, with experts offering varying perspectives on the issues it faces, from declining international rankings to domestic achievement levels.