Take it as read; Māori and Pasifika young people have a lower IQ than Asian or European children.

Take it as read; children growing up in homes in lower socio-economic areas of NZ have a lower IQ than decile 3 – 10 students.

I would not reach that conclusion if the Government, the teacher unions, and educators generally were out on the street marching for improved education – as opposed to fattened wallets for underperforming employees. We are currently accepting the status quo as the natural lie (pun intended) of the land.

I have just gone through the NZQA Annual release of the NCEA, University Entrance and NZ Scholarship Data and Statistics. A lovely red covered book with the gloss of my tiny Renault.

The denoted conclusions:

  • Girls are way brighter than boys (my wife has known and exploited that for the last 31 years).
  • Asians are way brighter that other ethnicities.
  • Europeans are way brighter than Māori and Pasifika – and those two ethnicities chop and change from year to year.

I, of course – along with brain and developmental science – believe none of the above statements to be true. That is the case even after being a teacher since 1991 and observing these stats every year.

However, it becomes very hard to argue that New Zealand society, the Ministry of Education and successive Ministers of Education don’t believe that this is the norm, as evidenced by the following:

  • The National Standards regime that never quite got that progressions are at least as important as final outcomes each year;
  • The emphasis on 85% getting NCEA Level 2 through whatever means when it changes nothing and gives no one a ticket to tertiary education.
  • A NCEA review that produced an interim report that seemed broad based and positive – and then a final report that could have been written by a team from Auckland Grammar School, St Cuthbert’s College and Kings High School of Dunedin.
  • Throwing out the Aspire Scholarships programme.
  • Killing off significant innovation by transitioning all Partnership Schools into the State System. The promise to develop the Designated Character Model has not happened so far.

The results? Terrifying! Page 13 of the NZQA report looks like a hydroslide as the NCEA Level 1 results plunge by 1% for Asian students, 3% for European, nearly 5% for Māori and over 4% for Pasifika. In one year! I would hate to think what our next PISA results might show.

In terms of decile: If you grow up in decile 1 – 3 homes (like I did) only 27.6% of Year 13 enrolled students (not to count those who had already checked out of the system) got University Entrance. If you were a decile 4- 7 school nearly 48% qualified for the wonderful fees-free Year 1 tertiary education. Approximately 65% of those in the higher deciles got that free ride.

One of the huge issues is that at NCEA Level 3 Māori and Pasifika are not that far behind. What becomes very clear when you dig a little bit is that it is obvious, to meet the external goals, that schools are channeling brown and poor kids into courses that are not accredited for UE. You could not set up such long-term disenfranchisement and social inequity even if you had an evil master plan devised by Blackadder himself.

The NCEA review will make this divide massively worse. The Tomorrow’s Schools Review report was such a waffle piece that two of the researchers could not stand on a stage together and present a consistent and coherent argument. The recent collective contract agreements have locked and loaded the myth that all qualified teachers are of the same quality and Principals should be given no trust and opportunity to bring about genuine change through incentivising teaching in Decile 1- 3 schools.

There is currently no party or politician in New Zealand who has the insight or energy to change the system for the children who need it. The families themselves must rise-up and ask for the very best for their children.

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