Timetable for Assessment Package to be Extended

  • Brian Donnelly
Associate Minister of Education (Early Childhood Education and Maori Education)

The timetable for the introduction of national testing outlined in the Green Paper "Assessment for Success in Primary Schools" is being extended for up to a year, the Minister of Education, Wyatt Creech and the Associate Minister of Education, Brian Donnelly, announced today.

Mr Donnelly, recently returned from a two week investigation of assessment systems in Ontario and England, is intent on developing with education stakeholder groups a programme that is tailored to New Zealand's education environment.

The deadline for submissions on the Green Paper is August 7 and the Ministers said consultations with interested groups are still on track.

"There are significant advantages in continuing the dialogue and in particular we want to talk further with teachers about the advantages of the assessment package and how best to ensure that the proposals for national testing can be used to add value to the education system," the Ministers said.

"Any constructive assessment system must highlight the predominant role of teacher assessment of pupils through tests created within the school and by an external agency."

Information gleaned from overseas by Mr Donnelly suggests that some teachers were starting to rely on nationally-set tests for assessing their own pupils.

"This would seem to be back-to-front," the Ministers said. "Secondly, it was recognised by both the Ontario and English education systems that mistakes in initial planning had been made.

"The timetable we have set as a government is simply too tight to ensure that many complex issues and decisions can be considered without similar mistakes. These include such questions as who should be responsible for the tests, test development, quality assurance processes and processing logistics.

"Credibility with stake-holders is essential if the results of national testing are to be used constructively in the classroom. It therefore seems sound to take a little longer and make sure we have faultless design.

"Meanwhile we will press ahead with the development of externally-referenced assessment material as an additional tool for establishing how our pupils are performing. This will include assessment resource banks and exemplar material.

"We still believe that nation-wide testing of all students at a particular level is an important part of a total assessment package.

"However we must make sure that we allow ourselves the time to get it right," the Ministers said.