Improvements in Pacific students’ presence, engagement and achievement, since their previous review, were evident in a small number of schools. Fewer students were involved in suspensions or disciplinary actions and attendance was not an issue in nearly a third of schools. Twenty percent of schools had evidence of improved literacy and numeracy achievement for Pacific students since their last ERO review. More schools had Pacific representation on the board and an increased awareness of Pacific students’ issues and successes.
Many schools put in place initiatives to improve outcomes for Pacific students. However, in most cases they had no process for identifying how or whether these actions improved Pacific students’ presence or achievement. In most cases only informal or anecdotal evidence was used to find out about the impacts of the strategies implemented. To reduce the achievement disparities identified in national and international surveys, assessment information should be used as part of schools’ review and development of strategies to make improvements for Pacific students.
In some schools with small numbers of Pacific students, school leaders identified difficulties monitoring, collating and reporting achievement and attendance results to the board. These leaders were concerned that privacy issues may arise if individual students results were identified. In some of the most effective schools leaders had thoroughly monitored these students progress and reported results to the board in very general terms to assist decision making.
The integration of cultural elements is often believed by school leaders to be a logical step in improving Pacific students’ achievement. Many schools’ initiatives were based on this assumption. However, some schools’ initiatives focused solely on culture and language development without giving regard to improving or changing teaching practices. Schools that succeeded in raising Pacific student achievement generally used more than one approach to improve teaching and increase their partnerships with parents.
In the most effective schools, commonly reoccurring success factors were effective self review, an inclusive and positive school culture, and valuing home-school partnerships. Collated and analysed achievement information for groups of Pacific students contributed to robust self review and development of programmes planned to improve achievement for these students. High expectations were evident for both staff and students, and relevant professional learning and development supported teachers’ implementation of effective practices in the classroom. Parents’ role in their child’s learning was valued and promoted. Work is still needed to enable all Pacific students to benefit from such positive actions.