Parents should have as much information as possible about the schools they send their children to. That is why The Dominion Post, together with Stuff and other Fairfax Media outlets, today publishes national standards data from more than 1000 primary and intermediate schools.
>> Search for your school and see full Wellington coverage
Gathering the information was not easy. Some schools refused point blank to provide the data we requested, despite a warning from Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem that they had a duty to comply under the Official Information Act. Others supplied it in a format that was impossible to decipher.
Ian Leckie, head of the teachers' union, the NZ Educational Institute, says the decision to publish is aimed at selling newspapers, and that it does not meet the journalistic requirements of fairness and accuracy. He is wrong.
The NZEI would rather national standards data from individual schools be kept from the parents who fund them and entrust them with educating their children. We take a different view.
We have also made it clear that the information comes with several caveats. National standards are not on their own a measure of whether a school is good or bad or better or worse than one down the road.
Although literacy and numeracy are the building blocks that will allow children to achieve their full potential, there is much more to a good education. Science, social studies, music, culture and sport are all part of a well-rounded schooling. We urge parents who are comparing their school with others to consider the extensive extra information we have provided online, especially the latest Education Review Office reports for each school.
The editorial is well worth a read in its entirety. That schools were reluctant to release information is unsurprising. But the world hasn't come to an end today with publication of National Standards data.
Today's release draws a line in the sand. What will be of far more impotance is the trends in years to come, and whether individual schools improve, remain static or get worse. That will be the true test.
In the meantime, parents have an absolute right to know how individual schools are performing on a range of measures, National Standards included.