A computerised national standards assessment tool, which is expected to be compulsory for every primary school student in 2015, has been given a red light by leading teaching associations.
The Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) is expected to strengthen teacher confidence and capability in making judgements on a student against the National Standards.
The tool will hold a record of previous judgements and, according to the Ministry of Education, it will help to provide a clearer overview of where a student is in relation to the standards.
It is being designed to interface with SMS so that class groupings can be loaded automatically, reducing the doubling handling of information.
However, The NZ Principals’ Federation, NZEI Te Riu Roa, the NZ Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools, and the Catholic Principals’ Association are calling on school boards, their colleagues, and the organisations developing the tool to cease any involvement in the further development of PaCT, including this year’s trials of the tool.
The Government plans to make the PaCT mandatory from 2015. Yet principals and teachers say making the tool mandatory will undermine teacher professionalism, reduce quality teaching for students, and cement in a reliance on data from national standards.
According to the associations, making PaCT compulsory will be no different from having a national test with all the negative connotations that implies. Most dangerously it assumes that every child is the same, learns the same way and can achieve the same results.
It also opens the gateway for other initiatives like competitive performance pay for teachers. There is no research evidence to show that when teachers receive performance pay it helps students learn better.