Māori success in schooling

In 2009 Māori made up approximately 22 percent of the students in New Zealand schools with just under 167,000 students. Māori students made up over half of the roll in 19 percent of schools. Māori students made up at least 15 percent of the roll in 60 percent of New Zealand schools.

National Education Monitoring Project data, from 2000 to 2008, shows that there have been small improvements for Māori students in writing, reading, and mathematics relative to the scores of Pākehā.[5]

In secondary education, between 2002 and 2008, there is evidence that the achievement of Māori students has improved in comparison with non-Māori. For example, the gap between the number of Māori and non-Māori achieving National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1 has narrowed.[6] To a much lesser extent, the gap between Māori and non-Māori has also narrowed for NCEA Level 2.

However, while the number of Māori students gaining university entrance (UE) has increased from 2004 to 2008, the gap between the number of Māori and non-Māori gaining UE has actually widened.[7]

ERO’s 2006 national report

ERO has completed national reports about Māori students in mainstream schools since 2001. The 2006 report The Achievement of Māori Students[8] found that the majority of schools had taken some action to improve the achievement of Māori students, but that there was a wide range of performance across the schools reviewed. Many had made good progress in some areas but needed to improve in others, particularly in using Māori student achievement data to adapt school practices, and in monitoring the effectiveness of programmes designed to improve Māori student achievement.

In 2006 ERO’s recommendations were that principals and teachers:

  • ensure that adequate information about the progress of their Māori students is collected and aggregated at class and school levels
  • analyse this information to identify opportunities to improve the achievement of Māori students
  • use this analysis to make appropriate changes and/or develop new programmes
  • monitor the effectiveness of any changes or new programmes.

ERO’s recommendations to boards of trustees were to:

  • request the principal to provide regular reports on the progress of Māori students as part of the principal’s report on student achievement
  • request the principal to report on how the school is responding to the current status of Māori student achievement in the school (as indicated by the achievement data)
  • request regular updates on the effectiveness of programmes designed to improve Māori student achievement
  • support the principal and staff to collect, analyse and act on Māori student achievement data.

Since 2007, ERO’s evaluations of Māori student achievement in school reviews have focused onthe progress each school has made in this area since its previous ERO review. ERO has investigated the ways in which schools were identifying and meeting the learning needs of Māori students, as mandated in changes to the National Administration Guidelines (NAGs).[9]

Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008 - 2012

In 2008 the Ministry of Education launched Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success, the Māori education strategy for 2008 to 2010. This document, updated in 2009, underpinned ERO’s evaluation.

Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success focuses on realising Māori potential through its strategic intent of ‘Māori achieving success as Māori.’ Of its four key strategy areas, two are of particular relevance to ERO’s investigation: young people engaged in learning; and organisational success. To improve the performance of Māori students, the education system must increase teacher capability, facilitate responsive and accountable professional leadership, and increase the involvement of whānau and iwi.

ERO investigated the extent to which schools were familiar with and had used Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success to review and make changes to practice,and what progress had been made in improving Māori student achievement since the schools’ previous reviews.

The New Zealand Curriculum

Schools have been implementing The New Zealand Curriculum from the beginning of 2010. The principles of the curriculum embody an expectation that schools will:

  • support and empower all students to learn and achieve personal excellence, regardless of their individual circumstances
  • acknowledge the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the bicultural foundations of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • give all students the opportunity to acquire knowledge of te reo me ōna tikanga
  • reflect New Zealand’s cultural diversity and value the histories and traditions of all its people
  • ensure that students’ identities, languages, abilities and talents are recognised and affirmed and that their learning needs are addressed
  • connect with students’ wider lives and engage the support of their families, whānau and communities.

These principles resonate with national and school-based initiatives to improve success for Māori students. As they continuously design and review curricula that reflect local contexts and communities, schools have opportunities to improve their knowledge about Māori learners and to respond more effectively to what they know.

ERO’s Methodology

In each school’s education review in Terms 2 and 3, 2009, ERO evaluated and reported on the success of Māori students in mainstream settings. Information from individual school reports was collated and analysed for this national report.

The evaluation had two overarching questions:

  • To what extent do board and school personnel use Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success to inform thinking, planning and action?
  • What does the school know about improvements to Māori student achievement since the previous ERO review?

Differences in ratings between school types, deciles, roll sizes, Māori roll sizes, familiarity with and use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success, and Māori staff in senior management positions were checked for statistical significance using a Kruskall-Wallis H test.

The differences in ratings between urban and rural schools (locality) were checked for statistical significance using a Mann Whitney U test. The level of statistical significance for all statistical tests in this report was p<0.05[10]