Martin Thrupp

National Standards for New Zealand's Primary and Intermediate School Pupils

Issue 17:2007 (published July 2008)

A key education policy plank for the National Party going into the 2008 election is to be National Standards for primary and intermediate pupils in reading, writing and numeracy. These are seen to be more acceptable than the national testing which occurs in England, the United States and other countries. But are they really more acceptable? This article will review evidence about the perverse effects of national testing, consider what is known about the National Standards proposed for New Zealand, and assess whether they are likely to avoid many of the same damaging effects on schools and pupils. It is argued that although the National Party is trying to distinguish its policies from national testing, the distinctions are not yet significant enough to prevent the problems which have been experienced overseas.