Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about accelerating student achievement

Does ERO focus solely on National Standards?

Answer: No, while National Standards data will provide information for the review, we will use your internal evaluation to help us go further. We look at all the data and information you have about progress across the curriculum, and all of the dimensions of effective practice that contribute to children and young people achieving the outcomes expressed in The New Zealand Curriculum.

Why is ERO focusing on Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration? 

Answer: ERO is focused on Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. We know that schools that perform well for Māori generally perform well for all students.

What does acceleration mean?

Answer: Achievement is accelerated when a child makes more than one year’s progress over a year, on a trajectory to achieve at, or above the National Standard by the end of year 8, or an appropriate qualification at secondary school level. 

What schools are affected by this change in review approach?

Answer: In 2016, we began with primary schools (full primary and contributing). From February 2017, we have extended our work into area, intermediate and middle schools. Secondary schools and early learning services will follow.

Is the process different from how you currently review schools?

Answer: No. Our review process has not changed. What is different is the main evaluative question which has moved from a focus on all kids, to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need accelerating.

Will ERO’s return times change?

Answer: No. Return times will vary, depending on how the school is doing in terms of their response to accelerating Māori student achievement.

At the conclusion of a review, schools receive a report outlining what ERO has found, and recommendations for what can be done better. Will that change?

Answer: No, that won’t change. We will still report back to school. Report findings will focus on the conditions that contribute to, or inhibit student achievement. Schools will still have the opportunity to respond to our unconfirmed report before the finalised report is made public.

Our report format has changed slightly. An example of the format of our external evaluation report can be viewed here.

How do I know what is happening for my child, and their learning needs?

Answer: You can talk to your child’s teacher. If you have any questions then you should contact your child’s teacher. Parent, family, and whānau involvement is vital to raising student achievement. 

What tools and resources will schools get to help them with this?

Answer: The School Evaluation Indicators identify what matters most to improve educational outcomes for all children and young people. Along with the indicators, we are about to publish a resource which gives schools guidance on how to use internal evaluation for improvement. We have also investigated and reported on how schools make educationally powerful connections with parents and whānau, how successful primary schools raise student achievement, and how successful schools set and achieve targets for improving student achievement. Together, ERO’s resources and other tools currently available in schools such as the NZSTA cultural competency tool Hautu and the Māori Achievement Collaborations (MAC) will provide a good start for this journey of improvement. In addition, ERO will run workshops for those schools that need some extra guidance.

How will you approach school reviews where Māori and other children are achieving well?

Answer: We will go into those schools with the same question. Where we find success, we will celebrate Māori achieving success as Māori. This will be acknowledged through the publication of good practice reports – we will continue to promote and share stories that exemplify accelerated Māori student achievement. We will ask about all children whose learning and achievement needs to be accelerated.

Our school has a high level of transience, with high student turnover. How will we measure the acceleration of those students?

Answer: ERO will be interested to find out how well students are doing while they are at school. We are interested to find out what you can achieve with those kids while they are at your school.

What if my child is improving but not fast enough for their achievement to be considered accelerated, by ERO’s definition?

Answer: We accept that children develop and accelerate their learning at different paces and time. But it’s important that they are achieving at a level that will enable them to fully access the NZ Curriculum. If children leave primary school below or well below the national standards this will not be the case. We expect that schools will be able to discuss their deliberate strategies for acceleration for individual children. That will be the conversation that we will be having, during the review. When a school has been able to accelerate a child’s progress in six months over a year we would expect to find out what worked, what didn’t work and what the plans are for the future.