ERO visited 40 secondary schools in 2013 and investigated how well they analysed and responded to their NCEA data. ERO looked for evidence that schools had identified student achievement issues and developed initiatives that improved learning. Although a range of achievement data was considered, the focus for this work was schools’ investigation of NCEA Level 2.
ERO found ten secondary schools that had identified a student achievement issue and responded effectively. These schools made a difference for students. They showed high levels of coordination and organisation. Their staff shared a strong focus on improvement. They had well-developed school frameworks for responding to issues and excellent support systems for individual students – including Māori and Pacific students.
While some of these schools had established curriculum innovations in place, most had focused on developing support structures for individual students. This included better tracking of student achievement, increased student mentoring, introducing additional times and opportunities for learning and developing better relationships with the families or whānau of students. There was less focus on developing new curriculum options, structures and approaches.
One of the ten highly rated schools did make substantial and innovative change to its curriculum. This school also made the biggest gains in student achievement.
A second group of 14 schools carried out a considerable amount of analysis of student achievement information. While these schools had some promising responses in place, they had not yet shown significant or consistent improvements for specific groups of learners. These schools had yet to see any clear benefits from the time they had invested in looking at student achievement information.
A third group comprising 16 schools did not have good processes for identifying and responding to student achievement issues. These schools lacked the coordination and focus of the more effective schools. Often, only a minority of staff were attempting to change the current patterns of achievement. Many staff lacked the urgency required to change their approach. At some of these schools significant issues affecting student engagement were not being addressed.
This report underlines the importance of tracking and supporting the achievement of individual students – including those at risk of underachievement. It also emphasises that schools should investigate how they can make achievement gains by implementing improved curriculum structures, options and delivery.
Refer to the diagram Inquiry and improvement process for schools on p.10 of the report.