This national evaluation report focuses on the important connections between the design and review of each school’s mathematics curriculum, the use of achievement information by trustees, leaders, teachers and students, and the acceleration of progress of priority learners. The context is the learning area of mathematics and what is happening for students in Years 4 to 8.

ERO was interested in how effectively schools reviewed and designed their mathematics curriculum in response to what they knew about students and their progress and achievement in mathematics. In particular ERO investigated what was happening for students in Years 4 to 8 identified as achieving below or well below the mathematics standards.

As part of the Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) programme, a framework has been developed to help leaders and teachers use change processes that respond to the needs of diverse learners (see Figure 1.)[2] This framework implies that each school’s curriculum is responsive to all students and that some change may be necessary in how the curriculum is designed to ensure that learning tasks, activities and experiences improve outcomes for all students, with a particular emphasis on each school’s priority learners.

Figure 1: Professional inquiry and knowledge-building cycle

Figure 1 outlines the professional inquiry and knowlege builiding cycle it is a series of boxes starting from left to right the first two are Self review processes evaluate the impact of initiatives, programmes and interventions particularly for priortiy learners and Informed by schools review and design of their mathematics curriculum.  These then link by arrows to a flow chart that is linked by clockwise arrows these boxes read from top left clockwise as: What has the impact of our changed actions on our students? What educational outcomes are valued for our students and how are our students doing in relation to those outcomes. Linked by an arrow above this is a box reading Use of achievemnt information. The flow chart continues How can we activate educationally powerful connections for all our students? What knowledge and skills do we need as teachers to improve student outcomes? How can we as leaders promote our own learning and the learning of our teachers to bridge the gap for our students? Engagement of teachrs in further learning to deepen professional knowledge and refine skills. Design or redesign of learning tasks, activities and experiences and finally Engagement of students in new learning experiences.

A 2010 ERO report Preparing to Give Effect to The New Zealand Curriculum[3] showed that most schools were in a good position to give full effect to The New Zealand Curriculum. This report noted that many schools had:

  • increased their understanding and appreciation of the intent of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • successfully consulted a range of groups in the school’s community
  • effectively reviewed their vision and values and integrated these, along with key competencies, into planning and teaching
  • comprehensively reviewed school curriculum documentation, before developing achievement objectives in each learning area and making connections between them across the curriculum
  • made progress with aligning their school systems, policies and procedures to The New Zealand Curriculum
  • engaged staff in implementing teaching strategies that further promoted student learning.

The next phase of each school’s curriculum review and development process is to make use of information about student achievement and teacher capability to continue to review their curriculum and focus teaching programmes. Trustees, leaders and teachers need to know about:

  • the progress and achievement of all learners
  • the identification of learning priorities, and priority learners
  • the capability of leaders and teachers to bridge the gaps through a responsive curriculum and associated teaching strategies
  • the impact of change for identified learners.

Structure of this report

The findings of this evaluation are reported in three sections:

  • Part A reports ERO’s findings about the effectiveness of schools’ review and design of their mathematics curriculum.
  • Part B reports findings in relation to how trustees, school leaders, teachers and students were using achievement information in their respective roles and responsibilities.
  • Part C looks at how teachers were accelerating the progress of learners who were achieving below or well below the mathematics standards.

Each section sets out a context for the findings that includes relevant background information and highlights why this is important.

A discussion of the findings provides a basis to identify next steps for schools and the Ministry of Education.

Appendix 1 shows the characteristics of the schools in the sample; Appendix 2 describes the methodology for the evaluation; and Appendix 3 provides a framework of evaluation questions and indicators schools can use as part of their self review.