The Ministry of Education’s Annual Report (2009) identified that a disproportionate number of Pacific students were not developing required literacy and numeracy skills in line with their peers.
Both national and international surveys of educational attainment at primary level show that Pacific students overall are achieving at lower levels than their peers. The 2005/06 Programme for International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) survey identifies that 16 percent of Pacific students were less likely to reach the lowest reading benchmark. The international median was four percent, and for all New Zealand students it was eight percent. The 2006 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) gave average scores for Pacific (427), Māori (453) and NZ European/Pakeha (510). Researchers, educators and Pacific communities have expressed concern about this underachievement. Since 2001, the Ministry of Education’s Pasifika Education Plans have highlighted a commitment to reducing disparities and improving the achievement of Pacific students in New Zealand.
Recent National Education Monitoring Projects (NEMP) (2005 to 2007) show that although Pacific students do not perform as well as pākehā students they are more engaged with, and more positive about their own abilities in, mathematics, science, social studies, and science.
Ministry of Education data on Pacific presence, engagement, and achievement at secondary school shows complex relationships between the three factors. While Pacific students are more likely to stay at school longer than Pakeha and Māori, they have a higher absence rate than pākehā and Asian students. The visibility of Pacific adults is low, with Pacific students less likely to be taught by Pacific teachers, or to be at a school with Pacific members on the board of trustees.
In 2007, 56 percent of Pacific school leavers obtained National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) level 2 or higher, compared with 84 percent of Asian, 71 percent of Pākehā and 44 percent of Māori students. Longitudinal research on NCEA and motivation and achievement shows that Pacific students reported more family child-caring responsibilities which correlated with achieving fewer credits in NCEA level 1. 
The National Administrations Guideline 1 that requires every board through its principal and staff, to:
This evaluation is closely linked to the Ministry of Education’s Pasifika Education Plan 2009-2012 which sets goals and targets for promoting Pacific students’ achievement from early childhood through to tertiary education. In the school sector, the goals are: increased Pacific parent involvement in students’ education; effective teaching focused on achievement; and Pacific students achieving qualifications. ThePasifika Education Plan also has a goal to increase Pacific children’s access and participation in early childhood education.
The overarching evaluation question ERO asked in schools was:
What does the school know about progress in Pacific student achievement since the last ERO review?
ERO sought answers to this question through six investigative questions about the extent to which there had been improvements in:
Information from individual school reviews was aggregated nationally to provide the findings for this report which are grouped under:
The report includes some comparison between the findings from ERO’s 2009 pilot report in Auckland schools and those from the wider 2010 evaluation.
Pacific students in the 233 schools made up from 95 percent of the roll to less than one percent. Approximately half the schools had fewer than five percent of the roll students of Pacific ethnicity.
Samoan students were the largest group, followed by Tongan. Others were Niuean, Fijian,  Cook Island Māori, Tokelauan and Tuvaluan. Schools grouped some Pacific ethnicities together and classified them as ‘other Pacific’.
In each primary school ERO asked what the school knew about Pacific students’ early childhood education (ECE) attendance.
Fourteen percent of the 173 primary schools said that all their Pacific students had attended ECE. In a further 30 percent of schools most Pacific students had participated in ECE, and 18 percent of schools reported that some had. In three schools no Pacific students had attended ECE. There was no information about this in the remaining 32 percent of primary schools.
In almost a fifth of schools the numbers of Pacific staff and trustees had increased. Most other schools had the same number of Pacific staff members as at the time of their previous education review. Sixty-seven percent of schools had no teachers that were Pacific and 83 percent had none in senior management positions. Two percent of schools had more than 10 teachers and more than three senior leaders of Pacific ethnicity.
Seventy-eight percent of schools had the same number of Pacific trustees as at their previous ERO review. The number of Pacific trustees ranged from none to eight. Seventeen percent of schools had more Pacific trustees and five percent had fewer.