Purpose of indicators

Indicators in education 

Indicators are used at different levels of the education system for different purposes. 

At the national level, they provide a means of evaluating how well the system  is performing in particular areas of policy interest, for example: education and learning outcomes, student engagement and participation, family and community engagement, and resourcing. This information is supplemented by a range of demographic and contextual data1 and by ERO’s national reports on education issues and effective education practice.

The selection of an indicator depends on the purpose for which it is to be used.

Indicators that are used primarily for accountability purposes typically demand quantitative measures such as scores or ratings. On their own, quantitative data cannot reflect the complexity of a school and its community and they are unlikely to have much effect on school improvement.

When used for improvement purposes, indicators generally demand qualitative data. Using them effectively requires a deep understanding of change theory, iterative use of evidence, and the continuing development of evaluative capacity.2

The primary purpose of ERO’s evaluation indicators is to promote improvement.

ERO’s indicators: supporting improved student outcomes

The indicators in this document are designed to focus schools and ERO evaluators on the things that matter most in improving student outcomes. 

There are two types of indicator: outcome and process.

The outcome indicators are drawn from The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and can be used to assess the impact of school policies and actions. Indicators of student achievement and progress are a direct measure of what it is that schools are expected to achieve. Those related to students’ confidence in their identity, language and culture, and to wellbeing, participation and contribution are important in their own right as well as being essential for achievement and progress.

The process indicators describe practices and processes that contribute to school effectiveness and improvement. They are organised in six key domains that work together to promote equity and excellence in student outcomes. They will assist schools to identify areas in which changes are needed.

Where evaluation against the outcome indicators indicates poor performance, the process indicators can be used as a tool for investigating the school conditions that are contributing to this poor performance. Where evaluation against the outcome indicators indicates excellent performance, the process indicators can be used as a tool for analysing which school processes and activities have contributed to this excellent performance.

Selection of indicators: guiding principles

The following eight principles have guided the design of the framework and the selection of indicators. 

The indicators: 

  • focus on valued outcomes for diverse (all) students as articulated in The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa
  • focus on the school conditions that promote equity and excellence
  • foreground the relationships required to enact the Treaty of Waitangi
  • are underpinned by a research-based theory of improvement
  • reflect the interconnected nature of the organisational conditions that promote and sustain improvement and innovation
  • describe what is observable or measurable
  • signal the shift to an evaluation orientation that requires deep professional expertise and engagement.

This is a photo of a mum and her two children an older girl and a younger boy