Time to stop dropping the ball on education
We’re looking at a generation of learners failing the basic literacy and numeracy standards needed to participate and function in society.
G.K. Chesterson described education as “simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” Our current education system makes one wonder about the state of our societal “soul” as future generations inherit it.
The latest results from a pilot of changes to incoming NCEA literacy and numeracy standards found that 34% of students achieved the writing assessment, 64% passed the reading standard, and 56% achieved the numeracy standards. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that only 2% of decile 1 students passed the writing assessment, with 15% of decile 1-2 students passing literacy and numeracy assessments.
The Post-Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) stated that teachers and students need more time to apply the changes required for learning and teaching the new NCEA standards. Whilst unopposed to the incoming wave of NCEA changes, the PPTA are asking for more help and support for teachers in the implementation process.
These unsurprising statistics are, unfortunately, a snapshot of the dire state of our compulsory schooling system. We’re looking at a generation of learners failing the basic literacy and numeracy standards needed to participate and function in society. If that isn’t challenging enough, our education sector is also facing three years of disrupted learning, the impacts of which are still unfolding.
It is as clear as daylight that our education system is facing a literacy and numeracy crisis.
Perhaps it’s time to have honest and uncomfortable conversations about the state of New Zealand education. To use a sporting phrase, where are we dropping the ball with our literacy and numeracy woes?
Answering this only raises more questions.
Could it be how we’re teaching these subjects? Are our teachers using evidence-based approaches for teaching foundational literacy and numeracy skills? Are we providing practical professional learning development opportunities for teachers? What resources are used to support teachers and students during seismic curriculum changes? Do we need broader systemic changes like national monitoring systems that track a child’s progress in their foundational years of learning (Year 0-Year 8)?
Times of crisis bring clarity and opportunity. It is as clear as daylight that our education system is facing a literacy and numeracy crisis. Herein lies a chance to focus on troubleshooting possible problematic areas like whom we place in front of our school children. Dwight D. Eisenhower noted, “Teachers need our active support and encouragement. They are doing one of the most necessary and exacting jobs in the land. They are developing our most precious national resource: our children, our future citizens.”
It’s time to review how we train our teachers and ensure our teaching programmes are driven by the Science of teaching and learning—rather than ideology.
Our educators did a phenomenal job in ensuring learning continued amidst pandemic disruptions. In our COVID-19 recovery efforts, the Ministry of Education, schools, the Teachers Council and others alike need to seriously consider how we can equip our teachers to teach well in today’s climate. We need current resources and professional development training provided by MOE and schools aligned with evidence-based practices. It’s time to review how we train our teachers and ensure our teaching programmes are driven by the Science of teaching and learning—rather than ideology.go back