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  • Writer's pictureLiam Rutherford

OECD school tests show weighing the pig doesn’t fatten it

It was good to see a prompt response from Jonathan Milne of Newsroom that challenges the narrative that international rankings are the be all and end all of education system performance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While there is no spine for it from any of the decision makers, the bold move would be to remove ourselves from these tests, for a period of time, to focus on develop our education system based on the our people, our culture, and our aspirations for tamariki in Aotearoa.

Jonathan write:

About 690,000 pupils from 81 countries and economies took part in the 2022 Pisa assessment, and the results were released late last night. Likely as a result of Covid and lost schooling, the results for most countries were worse than three years previous.

Very true, most countries have been declining, including the OECD average, and in the case of Reading our decline was lower than the average. But in saying that, I am not sure we should be falling into the trap of justifying the results. They are not good enough, but the key point being that we don't need PISA results to tell us this.

Every teacher and principal will be able to describe the way in which our current system is not set up to improve results in the way that we aspire too. We seem to be on this never ending loop of lining the curriculum areas up one by one and talking about a decline in results, teachers dont teacher science well enough, maths well enough, reading well enough etc. At what point do we take a step back and acknowledge that as a country we have changed radically over the last 30 years, inequality has grown, we have a much more diverse makeup of New Zealanders, and the level of learning and behaviour needs has grown, yet we have not seen the shifts in our education system to cater for this change...

Of course this is not new idea. There was one report that articulated this cleary. Pūaotanga - Realising the potential of every child. This report called for a dramatic shift in resourcing and rethinking the makeup of the system.

The frustration with the policy prescription of this new government is that it will take 3 years, at least, for them to admit they are following a failed set of ideas and in the meantime children are missing out and the workforce is being further burnt out.

Personally, I think we should return back to the tomorrow schools review and consider some of the ideas that the previous government was not bold enough to implement, but that discussion can wait for another day.

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