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New Zealand's education delusion: how bad ideas ruined a once world-leading school system

Educational innovations Educational data Educational evaluation Higher education New Zealand

This report explores the origins and consequences of New Zealand’s adherence to child-centred education. It contrasts the scientific consensus about how children learn with the different and, in many ways, contradictory advice given to educators and policymakers. It exposes how parts of the research community confuse evidence with values. It  also uncovers how curriculum and assessment policy rest on a flawed philosophy. This report’s six key recommendations outline how to create the corrective shift that will reverse decline and narrow the educational inequities.

Key Recommendations:

  1. Create an evidence-based teaching profession by designing a handful of mandatory standardised national assessments to highlight the effective schools and approaches
  2. Create a new national curriculum based on disciplinary knowledge, not competencies
  3. Encourage evidence-based instruction in early literacy
  4. Reintroduce partnership schools, but with rigorous accountability
  5. Redress the dominance of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER)
  6. Fund quantitative and generalisable research that rigorously tests properly formulated hypotheses about what might raise attainment and break the link between socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds and educational achievement.


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