The impact of the implementation of National Standards and the continuing focus on the functional aspects of literacy and numeracy in the New Zealand curriculum can be viewed as part of a global neoliberal reform agenda that deliberately constricts and narrows curriculum and pedagogy. Building on a review of the impacts on curriculum by national assessment agendas in other countries, this article considers the impacts on curriculum depth and breadth by the introduction of National Standards in New Zealand. It considers the likely impacts in particular on arts and critical pedagogies, and the implications of these changes on progressive notions of the role of education and democratic citizenship. The article concludes that there is growing empirical evidence that what and how children are taught in New Zealand has narrowed as a result of the implementation of National Standards.
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