NO NEED TO RANK: Stanton Mercer with his son Nathaniel. Mr Mercer says talking to a child?s teacher will be a better way to und
NO NEED TO RANK: Stanton Mercer with his son Nathaniel. Mr Mercer says talking to a child?s teacher will be a better way to und

Primary kids to receive A-E gradings next year

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL and AAP

STANTON MERCER doesn't mind a little healthy competition in his son's kindergarten classroom, but he thinks ranking them against each other is going too far.

The Lennox Head parent said he saw no real need for new standardised reports being introduced in primary schools by the NSW Government next year.

In the new reports children will receive A-E marks to show how well they perform against statewide benchmarks in each subject.

The reports also will indicate whether students are in the top, second, third or fourth quartile of their class for each subject.

"I think the way reports are done at the moment is fine," Mr Mercer said.

"A bit of competition is OK, because kids need to know what it's like because they'll be competing all through life.

"But I think the best thing to do if you want to know how your child is going is to talk to their teacher."

The reports are intended to comply with a Federal Government demand that school reports be simpler to understand and use traditional marking systems.

Modified reports will be produced for kindergarten students to take into account the needs of very young children.

Premier Morris Iemma said the reports would give parents answers to some of the questions he and his wife Santina asked after reading their six-year-old daughter Clara's most recent report

the next quartile, nine achieved in the third quartile and nine achieving in the lowest quartile?

"NSW wants plain English reporting, less jargon, consistency between schools in how and what is reported to parents as well as parent teacher student interviews (and) ongoing dialogue around their child's learning."

Meanwhile, Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said the State Government had no intention of bringing forward the introduction of new school annual reports.

The reports, in which schools will compare the marks of their students against statewide averages and the results of students in similar schools, will be trialled in 50 schools next year.

All NSW Government schools will be required to publish annual reports from 2007.

The Federal Government has threatened to withhold billions of dollars worth of funding from the states unless they introduce the annual reports and plain-English report cards by next year.

card.

Mr Iemma said he and his wife had been left wondering: "Where is she up to with her development in English or maths, what are the areas that she needs to work on?"

Northern Rivers Parents and Citizens' (P&C) Associations are yet to discuss the new reports, however the NSW Federation of P&Cs and the Teachers' Federation criticised the introduction of quartile-based ranking.

Teachers' Federation vice president Jennifer Leete said being told they were in the bottom quarter of their class would shatter the self-confidence of some students and discourage them from working harder at school.

"For example, encouraging them to take a greater interest in reading is going to be harder when that student is continually getting messages that they are in the bottom 25 per cent," Ms Leete said.

"Frankly, I think the best way for a parent to find out that the student is struggling is to be invited to the school, to sit down with the teacher."

NSW Federation of P&Cs president Sharryn Brownlee said she rejected the 'interference of the Federal Government' in the school reports.

"Parents of New South Wales support an outcomebased reporting system and will not tolerate students being partitioned into categories that are unreflective of the students actual learning outcomes achieved," she said.

"Why should a class of 36 students who are achieving at different outcome levels be forced into a reporting system that says nine achieved in the top quartile, nine achieved the next quartile, nine achieved in the third quartile and nine achieving in the lowest quartile?

"NSW wants plain English reporting, less jargon, consistency between schools in how and what is reported to parents as well as parent teacher student interviews (and) ongoing dialogue around their child's learning."

Meanwhile, Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said the State Government had no intention of bringing forward the introduction of new school annual reports.

The reports, in which schools will compare the marks of their students against statewide averages and the results of students in similar schools, will be trialled in 50 schools next year.

All NSW Government schools will be required to publish annual reports from 2007.

The Federal Government has threatened to withhold billions of dollars worth of funding from the states unless they introduce the annual reports and plain-English report cards by next year.



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