NZ National Standards and Pasifika/ Pacific Learners - v 4.1- Statement from Leo Pasifika researchers: The Coalition for Pacific Languages in Education.

Ministry of Education email in response to this article-"I am sorry we do not have the expertise to assess your comments at this time" .

Lack of knowledge about bilingualism and Bilingual Education
This issue requires great care and greater professional content knowledge (Schulman, 1986,1987) about bilingual learners than most communities, educators and government officials have at present. Direct research on literacy and cognitive developmental pathways for bilingual students is rare and so knowledge needs to be gathered from a wide range of diverse international studies by professionals who know what to look for and where it will be most likely found.

NS standards are set at unrealistic levels and are unsuitable for bilingual learners

In general, for many NZ children including Pasifika bilingual learners, National Standards (NS) have been unrealistically set often at aspirational levels currently above the national normed standardized tests that even native English speakers themselves are often unable to achieve.
The true extent of this is currently unknown but indications to date are that a major problem is emerging. Further data is needed to examine and confirm this trend.
However the National Reading Recovery Unit at the Faculty of Education says this is the case for English reading levels and book levels. It is true also for English writing levels, which are reported to be unachieved by most writers at most levels. It is also true for maths especially at the yrs 5-8 levels.

Bilingual learners are on different developmental pathways to monolingual mono-literate learners

To set NS at levels above current standardised test results when most Pasifika students are on a bilingual pathway of educational development does not make sense. Bilingual students, especially those learning through our own Pasifika languages are on fundamentally quite different developmental pathways from children who have only one language, one literacy, and one culture. This bilingual bicultural development is not currently acknowledged by the NS progressions and benchmarks. As Dame Marie Clay said many times -there are multiple pathways to literacy and learning and few if any children, [even native speakers of English], follow a pre-set ladder like set of progressions in learning. The present advice from bilingualism and biliteracy experts to schools is to assess children against the alternative MoE English Language Learners Stages (ELLIP) for as long as possible until a bilingual pathway is developed.
Extensive research on bilingualism and Bilingual Education is available and is already held or available to the Ministry of Education through its Research Division( see ) together with the growing number of bilingualism /Bilingual Education commissioned reports. This research material needs to be drawn to the Minister’s attention and indicate the existence and need for a Bilingual/ Immersion Education developmental pathway. Such a different pathway is clearly acknowledged for students in Maori Medium Education (MME) but not yet for Pasifika Medium Education (PME).

Likely results of using monolingual, mono-literate National Standards
· Most Pacific children in the NZ Realm and wider Pacific countries who follow NZ’s mainstream monolingual Curriculum approach to education, do not currently reach these national normed standardised tests that many native English speakers themselves are unable to achieve. NS will therefore result in Pasifika students being labeled by the system as well below standard and failing again. Instead of recognising and acknowledging progress made by individual students who began at point A and are now at point B, the current approach to NS will be interpreted by students parents, community, teachers, schools, the media, and NZ society as the child’s failure, the teacher’s failure, the Bilingual programmes failure, the schools failure – creating yet another deficit “problem” of Pacific children and families. Usually the solution proposed by the Ministry of Education and other Palagi to this issue is to abandon our own languages and cultures and concentrating on only being Palagi, only speaking Palagi, only acting Palagi and only thinking Palagi- choose one or the other.
· It is likely from evidence to date with bilingual programmes that some parents whose children are reported as being well below standard will lose confidence in bilingual programmes and then want to withdraw their children from bilingual programmes. We know of course this is because they are learning mostly or entirely in the medium of a Pasifika language however they are being judged currently solely by an English language literacy standard.
· This will result in NZ society trying even harder to eradicate our “Pacificness” as many people including some of our own Pasifika peoples, seem convinced this is the problem.
· This hegemony and deficit approach lies behind the idea that our youngest children should be taken away from their aiga/kainga /fanau/family cultural and language contexts and put in an all English ECE to prepare them for school. This policy of blunt participation at any cost for some years now has been responsible for taking away our children’s cultures, identity, pride, languages, self-concept, and ability to succeed in education and life in NZ as Pasifika peoples on our own terms and raise their own children in our languages.
· Above ECE, the Pasifika Plan and NS sets a very narrow, academic, “English Only” vision for our children which we should not buy into. We need to reject the idea we must choose one or the other – academic success or Pasifika values, languages, identity and life. We can and must have access to both. Likewise the refusal to provide Bilingual Education as an option for Pasifika families denies our children their histories, heritages, birthright and academic success in school and success in both cultures and languages in later life.
· Such a deficit vision and strategy for Pacific peoples in NZ Education is utterly unacceptable, a breach of the Bill of Rights, the Human Rights Act and the many UN conventions and declarations we are a party to.
An alternative Pasifika vision
It must be replaced with a vision enabling us to -

1) Set of specific language, cultural, social, economic and achievement goals for Pasifika (Tongan, Niue, Samoan, Cook Is…) education where our languages are seen as a resource rather than a problem and rejecting a narrow focus on underachievement as in the MoE, Pacific Plans (PEP) of 2001, 2004, 2008, & 2009)

These values based goals include:
1.1 To enjoy success in education in NZ as Pasifika (Niue, Cook Is, Tokelau, Samoan, Tongan, …) people.
1.2 To be able to grow up in NZ in the context of our own languages, cultures, values and beliefs.
1.3 To be able to live life as Pasifika (Niue, Cook Is, Tokelau, Samoan, Tongan, …) people in NZ.
1.4 To gain the skills knowledge and understandings to be productive citizens of the wider world and participate in all areas of NZ society sharing in its material well being.

Research informs us that the best, perhaps the primary way of achieving this goal is through quality Bilingual Education programmes where children grow up bicultural and bilingual, and able to move in both worlds easily, freely and successfully.

Current cautions about Pasifika Bilingual Education in NZ.
While it is correct that Bilingual Education can produce graduates by years 6-8 who reach or exceed national norms in standardised tests for native speakers of English, this can only be achieved where the programme is established and operated in accord with Best Evidence -Best Practice research which indicates literacy must be taught in the Pacific language and English (attached). Very few of our current bilingual programmes in schools currently meet these best evidence practices (approximately 5 out of 33), though work has been underway for some time through the Auckland Bilingual Samoan Cluster (Shirley Maihi Chairperson) to address the issues as best we can with virtually no Ministry of Education assistance. Bilingual Education then has clear demonstrated research potential to raise academic achievement that will be cut short if NS in their current form are allowed to continue.

John McCaffery - University of Auckland
Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin - Victoria University of Wellington
Judy Taligalu McFall-McCaffery - Postgraduate Student, Pasifika Liaison Librarian, University of Auckland
Patisepa Tuafuti- University of Auckland.
Click to access the National Standards in Samoan from NZEI

Click to read more on the NZEI Website

Indigenous Children’s Education as Linguistic Genocide and a Crime Against Humanity? A Global View
Tove Skuttnab-Kangas and Robert Dunbar in Gáldu Cala. Journal of Indigenous Peoples Rights, 1, 2010.
“This Special edition builds on two expert papers for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. As the title shows, the book investigates to what extent educational methods for Indigenous/Tribal and minority children which use a dominant language as the means of instruction can give rise to international criminal liability on the part of States which use such forms of education, within the meaning of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and under the concept of crimes against humanity. These methods of subtractive education very frequently result in the degradation and even loss of competence in the mother tongue and also inadequate acquisition of the dominant language, with severe consequences for these children. This contributes to language shift, and thus to the disappearance of the world’s linguistic diversity (and, through this, also disappearance of biodiversity).”

Ministry of Education Statement in response to Reo/Leo Bilingual Pasifika Concerns about National Standards statement above . Our statement was supplied to the NZ Education Review Office at the request of ERO.

National Standards and Bilingual Units
MoE comments in plain from Ministry of Education Wgton, NZ. After they issued this statement we reviewed it and made the Italics comments which were also forwarded by us to ERO and the MoE

[Comments in italics from Bilingual Leo Pacific : The Coalition of Pacific Languages in Education- by John McCaffery, Patisepa Tuafuti and Galumalemana Hunkin] We welcome the opportunity to make some preliminary comment on the Ministry of Education’s statement but would rather discuss it face to face which was not accepted by the MoE

MoE -It is recognised that for many bilingual learners, their trajectory of progress may be quite different from that of monolingual learners, particularly in the early stages of language and literacy acquisition. The progress trajectories in the two languages do not tend to intersect until around years 7 and 8.
So we agree this is correct – students do not reach literacy in both languages until around these class levels but at present little is known about the multiple biliteracy pathways of development they take to get there.
However when will the NS recognise and validate these different developmental pathways for monolingual monoliterate and bilingual biliterate students. ? The MoE accepts it needs to do for Maori Medium education- Pasifika (PME)students are in the same developmental position- or did we miss something?

MoE -Different students progress along learning pathways in different patterns, and at different rates. This is particularly so for students from diverse linguistic backgrounds. For all students, however, the goal is the same: accessing content of The New Zealand Curriculum at age-appropriate levels.
No this is simplistic - bilingual learners have additional literacy language and social and cultural goals to achieve especially maintaining, preserving or reviving and using their own heritage family languages. Thse goals appear to be currently not recognised or valued by the Ministry of Educations approach to National Standards.In fact they (along with Goals 16-17) were taken out of the secretly revised 2009- 2012 Pacific Education Plan ( PEP)

Students in Bilingual Educationl programmes need to have the extra words added ---in both English and their heritage family language.

The following are the objectives we have set for our children and conmmunities

These values based goals include:
1.1 To enjoy success in education in NZ as Pasifika (Tongan, Niue, Samoan, Cook Is…) people
1.2 To be able to grow up in NZ the context of our own languages, cultures, values and beliefs
1.3 To be able to live life as Pasifika (Tongan, Niue, Samoan, Cook Is…) people in NZ
1.4 To gain the skills knowledge and understandings to be productive citizens of the wider world and participate in all areas of NZ society sharing in its material well being.

Extensive Best Evidence Research informs us that he best, perhaps the only way of achieving these goals is through quality Bilingual Education programmes where children grow up bicultural and bilingual able to move in both worlds easily freely and successfully. Strangely as Professor Stephen May says -The Ministry of Education claims to be Best Evidence led –except of issues of language and diversity, bilingualism and Bilingual Education- Why?

MoE -It is important that schools monitor closely to ensure that all students are making expected progress within the curriculum according to robust frameworks.
Expected progress for monolingual and a student in a bilingual programme need to be quite different For example – When in National Standards is the expectation that the student will demonstrate the ability to transfer literacy strategies taught in one languages literacy to the other languages literacy?This is not something the monolingual student ever does! BUT it is an essential strategy skill for bilinguals.

MoE -There is some evidence that schools have not been monitoring students’ English language and literacy learning progress sufficiently, thereby severely disadvantaging this learner group.
Agree –And by not showing any interest in or monitoring students first heritage family languages as well, teachers are not able to understand translanguaging, encourage transfer strategies, validate prior learning and strategies and validate being bilingual.

MoE -It is important, as it is with all learner groups, that explicit teaching and support needs to continue throughout schooling, particularly in the area of academic language and literacy across curriculum contexts.The National Standards seek to make more explicit what students need to have in place to be able to access the curriculum at an appropriate cognitive level. Norm-referenced tools are based on where many students [ mostly momnolinguals] have currently been performing, and have highlighted several gaps in teaching and learning, for example, the plateau in the progress of students at year 5/6 which corresponds with reduced attention to literacy in years 7 and 8. This serves to disadvantage students who are then unable to cope with the literacy expectations of years 9 and 10 and beyond.

No one disputes the need for high levels of achievement in English literacy and academic. Bilingual Education seeks to achieve this as one of its main goals. It is not one or the other but having both.Students can learn and use the skills in both languages.

MoE -The English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) are used alongside the Literacy Learning Progressions and National Standards to provide teachers with the framework in which to check and respond to students' progress and achievement in English language, particularly where they are bilingual or pluri-lingual. Schools are encouraged to also report students’ progress and achievement to parents, families, whānau, and to the students themselves, using the ELLP. This enables progress and achievement to be acknowledged and celebrated as these learners move along their pathway towards meeting the expectations described in the National Standards.
The ELLP is based on a theoretical view of language and literacy development that DOES NOT Include research on bilingual learners learning to read and write in two languages and literacies. It is based on a monolingual view of English language development and does not accommodate the students first language development at all. Internationally it is Not a widely accepted model for ESOL or ELL development –(See Margaret Franken’s, 2003 international review and critique of the ESOL in the National Curriculum the MoE contracted her to do ).

MoE -It is not possible to provide robust, evidence-based frameworks for the 114 languages spoken by New Zealand students, particularly given the diversity of bilingual competencies for different aged students within these language groups.
This is a widely mistaken monlingual view of the professional and research base needed to monitor literacy progress of bilingual students in bilingual programmes on principles of biliteracy development. These principles are independent of any particular languages the student speaks, as above in the principle of transfer or the ability to translanguage.

MoE In accessing the curriculum, it is expected that bilingual/plurilingual students will be supported to draw on their multiple language resources to enable their curriculum learning across a range of school and language contexts.
Who is doing this expected professional development ? Many ECE centres schools and teachers still have bans on first language student use which the MoE and ERO have failed to eliminate (happy to supply lists)
Where are the teacher handbooks and guidance? Where are the requirements for preservice Teacher Education to cover such understandings? Where is this discussed in the NZ Curriculum ? Where is this discussed in National Standards material.? Where for parents does it say if your child is bilingual they will be supported to draw on their multiple language resources to enable their curriculum learning across a range of school and language contexts ? Supporting and developing Pasifika language bilingualism is NOT EVEN a goal of current ECE policy or the PEP
LPDP research admits that the issue is NOT part of its PD programme ( MoE 2010)

Just the opposite the messages given to teachers and parents at present from national Standards work and the PEP is ONLY ENGLISH COUNTS.

Why is this the first time any Ministry policy or statement in writing has ever mentioned the needs of students in non Maori Bilingual Education programmes as we drew your attention to these issues long before NS issues and materials were decided on?

Answer- Because now both the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and ERO are beginning to question the suitability and fairness of monolingual derived National Standards in English ONLY literacy for students being educated in biliteracy – ie two literacies.

We look forward to further discussion of this issue but prefer to meet face to face.The Ministry of Education has refused to do so. Their response to these replies was

MoE I am sorry we do not have the expertise to assess your comments at this time .- I am sorry we do not have the expertise to assess your comments at this time .

Communication ceased. We have not heard from the MoE since. //
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