Imposing National Standards on bi-lingual and ESOL students amounts to cultural bullying and will do nothing to help them become competent learners, says the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa.
The government has changed its advice and is now telling schools they must assess bi-lingual and ESOL students and report to parents against National Standards. It is part of updated Ministry of Education guidelines to schools. Previously these students were assessed against English Language Learning Progressions which were developed by the Ministry of Education and agreed to by the Education Minister.
"National Standards are unreliable and flawed and forcing them on this group of students is a tragedy, particularly as it replaces an assessment system which was appropriate for them and recognised their special learning needs and development," says NZEI President Ian Leckie.
"Measuring bi-lingual children or children who have just arrived in New Zealand against a set of narrow National Standards, completely devalues their own language, and the other skills and knowledge they have. It will also discourage first language learning which is so important on so many levels".
Research shows that students who have strong literacy in their own language have greater success in literacy in English and bi-lingualism has been identified as a major contributor to the overall academic success of Pasifika students in New Zealand schools.
Ian Leckie says "National Standards for ESOL and bi-lingual students is completely out of step with that and will only serve to label children further and demotivate them towards becoming competent learners".
NZEI also believes schools will be reluctant to measure these students against National Standards, not only because it is unfair and inappropriate, but because they will have to include them in their official reporting.
"If National Standards information is not protected and will be used to compare schools in the form of public leagues tables, there is a risk that schools will either not include these students' results, or skew their reporting to offset them," Mr Leckie says.
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