Press Release – Massey University
Professor O’Neill, from the College of Education, says Treasury wants to increase student-teacher ratios but chooses to ignore the “hard data” that show they are already higher than average. In the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment …Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Kiwi Teachers ‘Good Value For Money’
Education spending by government on primary and secondary students is lower than the OECD average but New Zealand teachers are among the highest performers, Massey University Professor John O’Neill says.
Professor O’Neill, from the College of Education, says Treasury wants to increase student-teacher ratios but chooses to ignore the “hard data” that show they are already higher than average.
In the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), New Zealand ranked fourth out of 34 OECD countries in reading, sixth in mathematics and fourth in science.
New Zealand’s annual expenditure per student is equivalent to US$5,573 per primary student and US$6,994 per secondary student.
The OECD average is US$7,153, and US$8,972 respectively.
“We spend less per student yet get impressive results,” Professor O’Neill says. “This suggests that our teachers overall do a great job and are cause for celebration not carping criticism.”
In the debate over whether to increase student-teacher ratios, Professor O’Neill says Treasury has failed to report that current New Zealand student-teacher ratios are one teacher to 16.3 students in primary, 16.3 in lower secondary and 12.8 in upper secondary schools. The equivalent OECD averages are 16.0, 13.5 and 13.5.
“In other words, our ratios need to be reduced overall to match the OECD average, not further increased,” Professor O’Neill says.
He also described as “misleading” criticism about the rising costs of schooling saying increases in Government funding were about catching-up on underfunding in past years.
Professor O’Neill says a simple way of looking at value for money from teachers as a whole is to divide total salary costs for teachers by the total number of students. New Zealand costs per student are US$14,986 in upper secondary (OECD average is US$16,989), US$11,888 in lower secondary (OECD average is US$14,956) and US$11,226 in primary (OECD average is US$11,545).
“Again New Zealand teachers appear to provide very good value for money to government and the country,” Professor O’Neill says.