Overview

This report is part of a series of national evaluation reports ERO is publishing over three years about the implementation of the National Standards in English-medium schools with students in Years 1 to 8.

The eight schools selected for this good practice report were reviewed during Terms 1 to 3, 2011 and were among those considered to be working well with the National Standards. ERO revisited the schools in Term 4, 2011 specifically to explore the schools’ practices within the context of their school curriculum and community.

These examples of good practice highlight a clear commitment to working with the National Standards paired with school cultures that are proactive and focus on initiating change. Almost all of these schools started working with the standards early on in the introduction of the National Standards. The schools focused strongly on enhancing good assessment and reporting systems already in place. School leaders looked ahead to identify potential problems. They communicated with their school community about possible changes in reported student achievement, and developed strategic and deliberate implementation plans.

Leaders in almost all of these schools understood the need to frame the National Standards within The New Zealand Curriculum. They helped staff fully understand all the concepts outlined in the illustrations of the standards, rather than just fitting nationally-normed results into them. Teacher and board of trustees’ understanding of the standards was developed through high quality professional learning and development (PLD) – both internal and external – as well as support and advice from professional networks.

The schools in this report identified areas of their current practice to be reviewed and/or closely monitored to ensure consistent application of the standards. New processes and practices were trialled, and school leaders were conscious of teacher workload. If new processes were developed then these replaced existing processes rather than being additional. School leaders used staff meetings, teacher-only days and classroom release time wisely. They developed new templates and processes with teachers. Smaller schools in this study selectively used available resources rather than develop their own.

The comprehensive use of these processes and templates ensured trustees were well informed about student achievement and progress. Trustees asked informed and knowledgeable questions about reporting and goals. This meant they could effectively use information from overall teacher judgements (OTJs) to set targets, allocate resources, and monitor progress against those targets.

The schools had systems in place to help teachers make consistent OTJs across the school that reflected their shared understanding of the standards. School leaders expected and encouraged teachers to discuss their OTJs with each other. Identifying inaccurate judgements was not seen as a failure on the teacher’s part. Moderation at various levels – class, syndicate, leadership team, and cluster – contributed to the strength of OTJs.

Teachers were aware of the school’s targets. Some had syndicate and classroom level targets that supported the school-wide targets. This practice highlights the need for teachers to be aware of, and involved in, in-depth analyses of student achievement information. Teaching was focused and deliberate, and teachers understood what their students’ next steps for learning were to progress against the National Standards. Teachers were accepting of their shared responsibility for students’ learning and progress. Discussions with students, parents and whānau focused on improving students’ progress, particularly that of target students. Students at these schools felt they were well supported to make progress. They were aware of their next steps through goal setting.

The schools had developed or enhanced comprehensive systems to report to parents and whānau. Teachers talked to parents about what they would do for their child, as well as reporting on achievement and progress. This tended to be mostly informal but at times was also done formally.

School personnel at these schools recognised they still have things to improve when working with the standards. They see it is a continual process of trialling and refining. A culture of ongoing improvement supports this process. Many identified next steps focused on these schools continuing to build their knowledge and understanding of the standards. They also aim to continue a strong focus on consistency of OTJs and accelerating student progress.