Schools should be focusing less on assessment and more on teaching and learning, says Dr Gareth Morgan, leader of The Opportunities Party, which recently released a bold new education policy that has sparked much discussion.
The Party wants to delay National Standards until Year 6 and delay NCEA until students’ final year of school.
Morgan believes there is currently too much emphasis on assessing students and says schools should be freeing up more time for teaching and learning.
"Testing and assessments of children in primary and secondary school is a national obsession and it's absorbing an enormous amount of teaching time- ridiculous,” says Morgan.
PPTA president Jack Boyle agrees that young people are over-assessed.
“Students deserve a quality education and that’s becoming harder and harder to achieve because teachers are spending too much time doing needless marking and assessing,” says Boyle. He hopes the Opportunities Party’s approach will be discussed widely.
The Party says New Zealand’s education system is caught somewhere between a low-trust educational model that leans heavily on assessment to ensure student progress and a model that trusts teachers as professionals and allows them more freedom in how and what to teach.
“Politicians need to stop their micromanaging and tinkering,” the Party states. “Better to take the global evidence and just sign off on a best-of-breed public education system, letting the professionals (education academics and of course teachers) do the business.”
The Party proposes to ‘restore the status of teachers’ by requiring teachers to have a post-graduate degree, and a programme of continuous professional development.
The Party also proposes to make full-time early childhood education free for children aged three and over, with a focus on improving quality in poorer areas.