Sixty percent of the target students across the 129 schools achieved NCEA Level 2 in the 2013 academic year. While it is not possible to know for certain how many students would have achieved NCEA Level 2 without additional support, the fact that well over half of the target students achieved NCEA Level 2 in 2013 is a strong indicator that the initiatives schools had developed were effective. This includes both the initiatives which schools already had in place and those they introduced as part of Achievement 2013-2017.
ERO found particular areas where school practices were well developed. In most schools additional emphasis was on providing a set of pastoral supports for students in the target cohort.
Most schools were providing students with a supportive adult who showed interest in their progress, systematically monitored their achievement and was on hand to help navigate them to success.
Schools also found ways to provide additional learning opportunities for students, this included the more strategic use of study leave times and even, in some cases, offering additional tutorials during weekends and holidays.
ERO also identified some challenges associated with Achievement 2013-2017 and the overall efforts of schools to improve student achievement. At least some of these challenges are likely to be addressed as the implementation of Achievement 2013-2017 progresses and the Ministry advisors and schools have more time to consider the long-term issues that emerge from a focus on a target cohort.
The main challenges discussed in this report include how schools can:
These four challenges are all closely linked to how schools review their efforts as part of Achievement 2013-2017. ERO found that while schools could reflect on the issues raised by their support for target students, they had generally not carried out formal self review of their efforts.
It is a missing component of the Achievement 2013-2017 process that the short-term gains made by schools may not be sustained in schools without a clear review and development plan.
Such planning can potentially sustain the improvements made by schools and extend these practices to more staff and all students. Good planning linked to effective self review can also help identify the ‘big issues’ affecting student engagement and achievement and point to areas where a school could innovate. A considered approach to self review, for example, can use what has been learnt in supporting a target cohort and identify what the implications are for a secondary school’s curriculum at Years 9 and 10.
As part of the Ministry’s redesign of the approach for 2014 ERO discussed the emerging findings from the review. The Achievement 2013-2017 initiative now includes the following changes in 2014:
To promote a longer term strategy the approach has extended more widely across teaching staff and into Year 10 to identify and support students earlier. ERO also recommends that the Ministry develop and introduce a self-review framework for schools taking part in Achievement 2013-2017.
ERO recommends that all schools supporting students to lift their NCEA achievement actively build and sustain a long-term focus by: