According to international studies New Zealand students, on average, achieve well in literacy and numeracy, particularly at secondary school. Our highest achieving students are comparable to the best in the world. However, the education system continues to under-perform for some learners and we have a wide spread of achievement compared to other high performing countries, particularly at primary school level (see Education Counts).

Learners who are not achieving to expected standards need a targeted approach that ensures they are meaningfully engaged in mathematics programmes that build on what they already know:

  • A deliberate and relentless whole school focus, involving trustees, leaders, teachers, students and whānau is needed to bring about improvement for those learners.
  • ERO has identified that in many schools the processes associated with reviewing the curriculum, assessing learning, teaching, managing and governing are not well connected to bring about such improvement.
  • It is the dynamic and important connections between these processes that need to be strengthened.

The findings of this evaluation highlight the need for improved monitoring, reporting and evaluation of the ways in which schools are using resources to accelerate the progress of identified learners.

Given the significant investment schools are making to raise achievement for priority learners, there needs to be more robust self evaluation of the effectiveness of resourcing decisions. Bringing about such a change could lead to considerable system-wide improvement in New Zealand schools.

In the schools where there was a high degree of coherence and connections between these processes, mathematics programmes had relevance for learners. Teachers were innovative in their teaching and open to exploring different approaches to inquire their practice and make changes based on meaningful information.

This evaluation identifies two further areas that could contribute to the wider shift needed:

  • Improving self-review processes to better evaluate what is working well, and for whom, would enable better targeting of resources in schools.
  • Learners should have more opportunities to develop a better understanding of what they have already achieved and what they need to focus on next.