The focus on a target cohort of Year 12 students at risk of not achieving NCEA Level 2 by the end of 2012 has encouraged the secondary school leaders and teachers in this pilot study to examine and improve their performance. This report identifies some of the good practices which schools have subsequently developed – in particular, those related to addressing individual students’ needs, building positive relationships with students and their families and tracking and monitoring student progress. Schools should use this report and other recent ERO reports[11] to reflect on how well they are ensuring that all students are receiving high quality learning opportunities as set out in The New Zealand Curriculum.

ERO’s investigation of school initiatives, combined with the achievement data from this project, indicates that overall, some students have gained success. Achievement data shows that in this pilot study 189 students (out of 311) achieved NCEA Level 2 in 2012. While it is not possible to know for sure what would have happened without the additional efforts of schools, there is enough evidence to suggest there has been a positive influence on student achievement.

Schools should, nevertheless, be wary of focusing on the acquisition of credits at the expense of student pathways. In this evaluation ERO found a few cases where students gained credits that did not have clear links to their pathways, including any future educational opportunities. The credits students gain should not depend on whatever credit accumulation opportunities can be identified. Instead, students and their families can expect, as part of The New Zealand Curriculum, that their identified pathways into further education, training and employment will be a starting point for school support structures to gain NCEA qualifications.