Inconsistencies and loopholes in the reporting of student achievement will be ironed out, Education Minister Hekia Parata has promised a prominent Bay principal.
Ms Parata was welcomed on to the grounds of Otumoetai College yesterday with a powhiri at the school's marae before heading to the boardroom to discuss some thorny issues with the school's leaders.
In the boardroom, principal Dave Randell cut straight to the chase, telling the Minister he had an issue with the way her ministry reported student achievement data.
"The way they report the facts and figures, we find it completely erroneous," he said.
"We were so concerned this year with the way the results from school to school change that we wrote to NZQA (the New Zealand Qualifications Authority) and questioned how they report. They've acknowledged that it's not consistent amongst schools."
Student achievement figures are skewed by factors such as international students who leave half way through the year and special needs students who do not have the capability to achieve NCEA, Mr Randell said.
In addition, the college's decile rating of eight was misleading because many students entered the school with low levels of reading and comprehension skills.
Finally, some other schools made their results look better than they really were by not entering poor performing students in standards they were unlikely to achieve, Mr Randell said.
"I understand what you're saying, that it's possible to game the system ..." Ms Parata said.
"The point you're making here about the level that the students come in on and the restoration that you are investing in, I do take on and will continue to take on your primary school colleagues about national standards because actually literacy and numeracy are meant to be indicators of the entire system, not the exclusive focus of national standards.
"I hear what you're saying but what our commitment is, is that we get to a point where we're all using consistent information that isn't gaming to try to present, in one way or the other.
"We will land at a methodology, I promise you, that does not allow loopholes of the type you're talking about because we need a true picture."
Ms Parata said the Ministry has already agreed to remove foreign students from student achievement data, and there was a working group looking at how to separate the achievement data of special needs students from school-wide data.