Raising achievement in primary schools

This June 2014 ERO report explores the deliberate actions leaders and teachers took that increased the number of students achieving ‘at’ or ‘above’ the national standards. The actions provide a way forward for improving the progress of Māori students achieving below the standards for their year level.

What did effective schools do?

Leaders and teachers at effective schools responded innovatively to underachievement and successfully accelerated progress for the students involved. They:

  1. designed and implemented an improvement plan that enabled more students to achieve better results with less inequity across the school population.
  2. usually undertook additional assessments with students needing to accelerate progress to better understand their strengths and needs
  3. were strategic and successful in their actions to accelerate progress.
  4. strategically trialled a new approach in one area and expanded the trial by increasing the number of students and teachers involved in the new approach.
  5. trialled well-researched strategies rather than continuing with what was obviously not making a difference.
  6. focused on building relationships with students, their parents and whānau. Some also extended their partnership to hapu and iwi

What is accelerated progress?

The purpose of accelerated progress is to enable the learner to achieve at the national standard for their year level. Achievement can be considered to be accelerated when a student makes more than ones year’s progress over a year on a trajectory that indicates they will achieve at or above the standards by the end of Year 8 or sooner.


Māori enjoying success as Māori

Improvements in achievement resulted when schools:

  • integrated elements of students’ identity language and culture into teaching and learning
  • used their student achievement data to target resources for optimal effect
  • provided early intensive support for those students at risk of falling behind  created productive partnerships with parents, whānau, hapu, iwi, communities and business focused on educational success  retained high expectations of students to succeed in education as Māori.


What does strategic and successful look like?

Strategic and successful schools had both a long-term commitment to acceleration and a planned approach to improvement that provided wrap-around support for students and teachers. For example when data identified that a group of Year 8 boys were not achieving well in writing the school provided a remedial Year 8 writing programme. At the same time they aimed to ensure this achievement pattern didn’t reoccur by providing professional development in writing for teachers of Year 4 to 8 classes.

Capabilities that made the difference in a school’s ability to accelerate progress

  • Leadership capability - school leaders were able to design and implement a coherent whole school plan that focused on targeted support for students and teachers for equitable outcomes.
  • Teachers’ capability - teachers were able to find and trial responses to individual student strengths and needs that engaged and supported students to accelerate their progress in reading, writing and mathematics.
  • Assessment and evaluative capability – leaders and teachers could understand and use data, and know what works, when and why for different students.
  • Capability to develop relationships with students, parents, whānau, trustees, school leaders and other teaching professionals to support accelerated progress.
  • Capability to design and implement a school curriculum that engaged students.

this is an image of boys reading