Findings

This section initially presents findings from the investigation of schools’ familiarity with and use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success. It then focuses on each of the three key dimensions for the evaluation: presence, engagement and achievement.

Findings for secondary and primary schools are presented separately.

The use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success by schools

Schools’ engagement with Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success ranged from those that had considered the document and made changes to some of their practices, to those that had not yet discussed it.

ERO found that the secondary and primary schools that had made changes as a result of their consideration of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success were more likely to have improved outcomes for Māori students. The difference was statistically significant.

These schools showed improvement in:

  • Māori student engagement
  • boards’ knowledge and understanding of factors affecting Māori achievement
  • engagement with the Māori community (in primary schools)
  • the quality of Māori student achievement
  • the quality of Māori student achievement information
  • the quality of teachers’ and school leaders’ data analysis
  • provision of learning experiences that met the specific needs of individual Māori students
  • the use of analysed Māori student achievement data to inform school review and policy development
  • the quality of reports on Māori student achievement for the board and school community
  • appropriate Māori student achievement targets set by school leaders and boards
  • Māori student achievement in NCEA Level 1 (in secondary schools).

At the time of writing, schools have had Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success for approximately a year, so it is not yet possible to identify a definite link with the improvements listed above. ERO found, however, that schools that placed high priority on improving success for Māori were generally more likely to have considered Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success, used it to help them set and meet their targets, and made changes as a result.

Secondary schools’ use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success

Almost half the secondary schools had made some changes as a result of working with Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success. [11] Figure 1 shows the extent to which secondary schools were familiar with and used it.

Figure 1: Familiarity with and use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success – Secondary Schools

figure 1 is a bar graph called Familiarity with and use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success – Secondary Schools. The y-axis is called percentage of secondary school and is ranged 0-100 at intervals of 20. The x-axis has four labels they are as follows: Considered and made changes 20%, Taken into account when planning 24%, Discussed but no changes 28% and Not yet discussed 28%.

ERO found that the most effective secondary schools in this investigation were familiar with Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success. Of the six schools that demonstrated good practice, five were making changes based on this strategy. The sixth had revised its current plans and was about to implement changes.

Primary schools’ use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success

Figure 2 shows that two-thirds of the primary schools were familiar with Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success and had used it to change practice or inform planning.[ 12]

Figure 2: Familiarity with and use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success – Primary Schools

figure 2 is a bar graph called Familiarity with and use of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success – Primary Schools. The y-axis is called percentage of secondary school and is ranged 0-100 at intervals of 20. The x-axis has four labels they are as follows: Considered and made changes 37%, Taken into account when planning 30%, Discussed but no changes 12% and Not yet discussed 21%.

Many of the primary schools that had made evident progress with increasing success for Māori had made changes in response to Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success.Despite this, of the 14 primary schools that were most effective in promoting Māori achievement, half had not made changes as a result of reading it. It should be noted however, that these schools had effective approaches in place before its release.Importantly these approaches demonstrated many of the important principles underlying Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success, including a focus on student and whānau engagement.

Improving the presence of Māori students

Being at school is vital if students are to be successful learners. Schools should monitor Māori students’ presence and respond appropriately to identify concerns. Attendance needs to be considered by schools, as well as stand‑downs, suspensions and exclusions, which can disrupt the continuity of learning, with consequent negative impact on engagement, motivation and achievement. Persistent lateness also impedes learning.

Improving the presence of Māori students at secondary schools

Most secondary schools reported that Māori student presence had improved or remained at a high level since the last review (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Māori student presence – Secondary schools

figure 3 is a bar graph called Māori student presence – Secondary schools. The y-axis is called percentage of secondary school and is ranged 0-100 at intervals of 20. The x-axis has five labels they are as follows: Remained at a high level 20%, Substantially improved 12%, Improved 38% and Not improved 10% and Not known 20%.

Secondary schools that were specifically monitoring Māori student presence had tracked trends since their last review. They had collated and analysed data on Māori students separately from other groups. Most of the schools where Māori student presence had remained at a high level or had improved substantially had a strategic approach and well-embedded systems for monitoring and tracking attendance.

Schools where there was no evidence that the presence of Māori students had improved often had initiatives and strategies in place, but lacked reliable systems for measuring their impact. Eight of these schools knew about school-wide presence, but did not collect or analyse separate information on Māori students and therefore did not know whether their presence had improved.

Among the schools that did not know about Māori student presence was one school where Māori comprised 40 percent of the roll, and two others where approximately a quarter of the students identified as Māori. In some schools, issues with individual students’ attendance were identified and dealt with (as with all other students), but the school was unaware of any patterns and trends affecting Māori as a group.

Initiatives to improve Māori student presence in secondary schools

Secondary schools had a wide range of initiatives to improve Māori student presence. Twelve schools in this study were involved in Te Kotahitanga. [13] This project incorporates a high level of monitoring and ensures that participating schools use reliable systems to track Māori students’ attendance patterns. One of the key elements of the Kotahitanga professional learning and development programme helps teachers to increase their ability to engage Māori students more effectively in learning. Improved attendance and retention are among the expected outcomes of the project, along with reductions in the number of stand-downs, suspensions and exclusions. Most Kotahitanga schools had evidence to show that the project had had a positive impact on student presence and engagement.

Te Kauhua [ 14] is another initiative that some of the schools are involved in. Like Te Kotahitanga, it aims to increase Māori students’ engagement in learning, but few Te Kauhua secondary schools in this evaluation were able to demonstrate links between Te Kauhua and improved outcomes for Māori students.

Other initiatives that secondary schools have undertaken to improve Māori student presence include:

  • setting strategic and annual targets for Māori achievement
  • appointing a home or iwi liaison person
  • establishing mentor programmes
  • involving students in goal setting
  • building teachers’ knowledge and understanding of te reo me ngā tikanga
  • highlighting role models
  • engaging restorative practices
  • developing Māori leadership programmes
  • increasing opportunities for cultural participation and leadership
  • targeting elements of pastoral care for Māori students
  • establishing whānau or home rooms
  • sharing data with whānau
  • establishing a whānau committee or support group.

Schools believed that these initiatives were effective in bringing about improvements, but their evidence for this was largely informal and anecdotal.

Improving Māori student presence in primary schools

Figure 4 shows that Māori students’ presence had improved or remained at a high level in almost three-quarters of the primary schools since their last review. As in secondary schools 30 percent of primary schools did not know enough about Māori student presence to enable a judgment to be made on whether improvement had occurred.

There were no identifiable patterns linked to school size, location or decile.

Figure 4: Māori student presence at primary schools

figure 4 is a bar graph called Māori student presence – Primary schools. The y-axis is called percentage of secondary school and is ranged 0-100 at intervals of 20. The x-axis has five labels they are as follows: Remained at a high level 42%, Substantially improved 10%, Improved 18% and Not improved 9% and Not known 21%.

In most of the primary schools where Māori students’ presence remained high, school staff continued to monitor Māori attendance. They also maintained practices that they perceived to be effective in supporting Māori student attendance. For example, many schools knew parents and whānau well and ensured there was regular contact between home and school.

An example of good quality knowledge about Māori students’ presence was found in a decile 2 rural school, with Māori students making up 53 percent of its roll. The principal reported to the board on Māori attendance twice a year. As part of a local student engagement initiative, he conducted an attendance/truancy survey which identified patterns of which the school had been unaware.

Overall attendance had greatly increased, meeting the 2009 target, and there had been no stand-downs, suspensions or expulsions during the past three years for any students.

Initiatives and strategies undertaken in the school included:

  • employing a Māori staff member to monitor attendance registers on a weekly basis and present certificates for the class with the best attendance at school assemblies
  • giving certificates to each child who achieved ‘excellent attendance’ over a term, and letters being sent to inform parents
  • carrying out prompt and close monitoring of attendance, with the principal making personal contact with families as the first step if there is a problem and referral to the district truancy service (DTS) as a last resort. Only two families had been referred in the past three years
  • establishing a transition-to-school programme for four-year-olds, with parents and whānau being welcomed into the new entrant room on Friday mornings with their tamariki. This helped parents and whānau of four-year-olds to feel comfortable about coming to school.

At another middle-decile urban primary school Māori student presence had remained high since ERO’s previous review. Approximately half of its students were Māori. The principal led an initiative based on what the school knew about Māori students and the local community. He adopted a kanohi ki te kanohi [15] approach in his dealings with the local hapū, iwi and marae. The whole school was welcomed at the marae to celebrate the beginning of the new school year, and the principal planned to make this practice a common feature of the school programme. He also trialled the initiative of sending Māori children to the marae for immersion experiences in te reo me ngā tikanga. The board had held some of its meetings at the marae, and saw this as a way of building and strengthening relationships between the school and the marae.

Schools that did not know about Māori student presence patterns were unlikely to be able to respond in appropriate ways, as demonstrated in the example below.

A middle decile urban school, where 30 percent of students identified as Māori, collected and collated attendance data. Leaders presented a table at the board meeting, identifying the number of absences in year groups. However, it did not analyse this information to find any trends or patterns over time for students of different ethnicity or gender. Stand-downs and suspensions data was not collated or analysed to provide an overall picture of needs. Teachers knew about individual students and only gave the board anecdotal information. Trustees did not know if there were problems with Māori student presence or what they might be.

Initiatives to improve Māori student presence in primary schools

Most primary schools had at least one initiative in place to maintain or improve good levels of attendance. Many of these initiatives were school-wide and did not specifically target Māori as a group. Examples were:

  • providing personal contact with parents and whānau, including home visits
  • assisting and supporting parents and whānau (eg referrals to community agencies, provision of supplementary food)
  • increasing community involvement in the school through home-school partnership
  • improving pastoral care systems, such as setting up a special needs committee to respond to identified concerns.

Some primary schools measured the impact of initiatives they had put in place. These were generally the schools that had high quality information about Māori students’ presence, which made it possible for them to track trends and changes closely.

Most schools had only informal or anecdotal evidence of the outcomes of initiatives, and a few did not know whether what they had done was effective or not.

Engaging Māori students and communities

ERO asked primary and secondary schools about the initiatives they had implemented since the previous review to engage Māori students, whānau and the wider Māori community. ERO wanted to know how effective these initiatives were and the extent to which schools had evaluated their effectiveness.

Engaging Māori students and communities in secondary schools

Since ERO’s previous review most secondary schools had made progress in engaging Māori students, whānau and communities. Approximately a fifth of secondary schools had made no progress.

The secondary schools that had maintained high levels of engagement, or had substantially improved since the last ERO review, had implemented a variety of initiatives. To engage Māori students in learning, high performing schools had:

  • integrated te reo me ngā tikanga across the curriculum
  • used culturally appropriate contexts in teaching
  • increased teachers’ knowledge of te reo me ngā tikanga
  • focused on building positive teacher-student relationships
  • given prominence to positive role models
  • developed accessible and effective guidance services (eg career pathways)
  • adopted formative assessment practices [16]
  • supported and promoted student learning through mentoring
  • established whānau or home rooms
  • increased numbers of Māori staff
  • monitored and reported Māori achievement
  • developed a seamless [17] curriculum.

These initiatives helped to improve students’ attendance, retention and NCEA (National Certificates of Educational Achievement) participation rates among Māori students. Teachers at the high performing secondary schools were confident in their ability to engage Māori students. Teachers’ attitudes and beliefs meant that expectations of these students were high. Māori students were involved in school activities, often in leadership positions. Teachers demonstrated a supportive, collaborative ethos, and shared effective practices.

How did effective secondary schools engage Māori students and communities?

A common feature of the secondary schools that successfully engaged students in their learning was their use of self-review information to improve responsiveness to Māori students and their whānau. The schools sought feedback from Māori students, staff and parents through surveys and hui. Communication systems were effective, and schools frequently used an open door policy and home visits. In one school, the board had a Treaty of Waitangi subcommittee that was responsible for monitoring and improving Māori engagement. Some boards had Māori engagement targets in their planning based on what the school knew about retention, achievement and participation rates of Māori students.

Boards that succeeded in engaging whānau and the Māori community tended to consult regularly and through a variety of methods. Having more than one Māori trustee [18]was seen by a small number of schools as an advantage, as it increased the likelihood that Māori perspectives were expressed and heard. Boards that expected and received reports on Māori achievement were kept informed of trends and patterns, and were able to respond with appropriate allocation of resources to support initiatives.

A further factor commonly associated with the most effective schools was that parents and whānau were actively involved in the school and in students’ learning. Whānau had a sense of connectedness and had a voice in determining the long-term direction of the school. The school ensured that ongoing opportunities for this partnership were encouraged, in order to find out and respond to the aspirations and expectations of parents and whānau.

A secondary school that is effectively engaging students and whānau

A third of the students in the decile 3 school are Māori. The school is in its third year of involvement in Te Kotahitanga.

The principal and the board maintain a commitment to promoting and valuing the importance of tikanga Māori through ongoing Māori community consultation and support for students learning te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. The principal has a clear focus on including te reo Māori and appropriate Māori kawa in the school to raise student and community awareness of the bicultural character of New Zealand society.

Te Kotahitanga is a significant feature of the school’s efforts to improve Māori student engagement and achievement. Almost all teachers are trained under the project, or are in the process of training, to develop the knowledge and skills to implement the effective teaching programme. This approach promotes greater use of formative teaching strategies, culturally appropriate contexts and the fostering of responsive relationships to actively engage students in learning. Through regular internal professional development, staff have opportunities to increase their knowledge of school kawa and tikanga Māori.

The focus of school-wide professional development is on engaging students more actively in their learning by making processes explicit and improving students’ understanding of their own learning. In classrooms where teachers focus on having positive relationships with students and providing student-centred learning experiences, students are highly engaged in the learning process.

There has been a marked decrease in suspensions and a slight reduction in stand‑downs. Data monitoring Māori students’ participation in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) show good levels of participation and retention through the year.

In 2008, the board and senior managers consulted students, staff and parents extensively in order to review the long-term direction of the school. As a result, they set targets for Māori engagement and achievement.

Engaging Māori students - what factors characterised the less effective secondary schools?

Some of the secondary schools whose engagement of Māori students and whānau had not improved had not introduced new initiatives since the last review. Others had no way of knowing if there had been an improvement, because no relevant information had been gathered. In several schools there had been initiatives to improve student engagement but they did not target or measure outcomes for Māori.

The characteristics linked to poor progress with Māori student engagement included:

  • a lack of leadership and school-wide acknowledgement or understanding of education issues for Māori
  • a lack of professional learning and development to increase teachers’ cultural awareness and confidence
  • limited teacher buy-in to initiatives.

In one secondary school, Māori students were disillusioned with the place of Māori in the school and the quality of some teaching. The school was struggling to maintain useful engagement with Māori whānau and had not implemented any initiatives to improve since the previous review. Self review at the school was poorly developed and there was a lack of knowledge about Māori student and whānau engagement. Māori students comprised almost a third of the total school population, yet little had been done to engage them in learning.

In another school, a focus group on Māori achievement had conducted an investigation, reporting its findings and made recommendations for improving the engagement of students and whānau. No actions had resulted from this report.

Having Māori representation on the board was not a critical factor in the extent to which boards took responsibility for improving Māori student engagement and achievement. While six of this group of secondary schools did not have a Māori representative on the board, most of the secondary schools had at least one.

Engaging Māori students and communities in primary schools

Since ERO’s previous review, most primary schools had increased the engagement of Māori students and communities. Their boards had improved their own knowledge and understanding of issues affecting Māori student achievement.

Board members in primary schools with rolls with 51 percent or more Māori students were more likely to have a high level of knowledge and understanding of Māori issues. These schools were also more likely to have improved their engagement with their Māori communities. Other schools where community engagement had remained high or had substantially improved were those where there was at least one Māori in the senior leadership team.

How did effective primary schools engage Māori students and communities?

Schools where Māori engagement remained at a high level, or had improved substantially, usually had school-wide initiatives in place. Although many of these did not target Māori specifically, they tended to link in with a strategic priority of improving Māori students’ achievement by increasing their engagement in learning.

These strategies often involved parents and whānau, as demonstrated in the example below of a decile 2 rural school, half of whose students identified as Māori.

This school has worked to increase the involvement of parents in their children’s learning by encouraging whānau to help children at home, and creating opportunities to increase parents’ confidence and skills. Two important ways of bringing this about were student-led conferences and parent input into portfolios. These enabled whānau to see what was positive and to say what they would like to see more of. Next steps for learning were clearly specified in portfolios.

Staff were advising the parents of Year 1 students about how to support their child’s reading and writing. Articles in the school newsletter and on the website informed whānau on how to help their children with school work. A year-long programme for parents of four-year-olds was put in place to assist with children’s transition to school. Whānau were included in school activities, enabling them to contribute to the school’s welcoming environment.

Regular school events such as cultural festivals, trips, visits to community areas, grandparent days, sports activities and lunch time activities provided many opportunities for parents and whānau to be involved.

Flexible strategies for communicating with parents were underpinned by a personalised approach which often involved home visits. There was timely and accurate reporting of children’s progress. Parents found the principal and staff approachable, and they attended consultation hui and completed survey questionnaires. Parents contributed to school curriculum and portfolio design. In 2009 there was a consultation hui on how parents and whānau would like achievement to be reported. The new reporting format was based on the outcomes of this feedback.

Another school had developed a different range of strategies to engage Māori students and their whānau. In contrast with the previous example, this was a decile 7 urban school with a small Māori roll (six percent).

With leadership from the principal and board, the school demonstrated a strong commitment to success for Māori. Māori student achievement information was comprehensively analysed. Targeted interventions for Māori students were closely monitored, reviewed and reported to the board. The principal discussed Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success with the board, and trustees incorporated its principles in their 2009 to 2011 charter and strategic plan.

The board was proactive in seeking ways to improve success for Māori students, and showed willingness to fund new initiatives. Board members were knowledgeable about how well Māori students achieved and what responsibilities they had as trustees to fully engage them in learning.

The following school initiatives demonstrate how this school strives to engage them and their whānau:

  • The school ensured that Māori children were represented in leadership, cultural and sporting positions at the school.
  • The board employed (part-time) a Māori woman as kaiawhina. She discussed syndicate planning with team leaders and assisted with the integration of a Māori dimension in each unit. The kaiawhina also taught te reo Māori to small groups of Māori children, using simple Māori texts to extend their reo. Teachers were expected to attend sessions to learn alongside the children.
  • A part-time teacher aide who is Māori worked with Māori children who needed help to improve their reading.
  • The board knew about their obligation to consult the Māori community, and fulfiled this in different ways to ensure high attendance by parents at school hui. The most successful method has been personalised interviews with each whānau. Student achievement was discussed and individual goals and targets for each child set with parents. Parents preferred this one-to-one conversation with the principal, as it was specific to their own child's needs.

The initiatives at this school reflected an education climate in which success for Māori was a priority. Māori students told ERO that they were proud of their school. Māori students were well engaged and involved in their learning. They enjoyed the range of learning opportunities available to them and benefited from the inclusive climate and a fundamental understanding that Māori would succeed. Data showed that Māori students made good progress while they were at the school and achieved success in national and international testing and competitions.

One rural school with a roll of 29 percent Māori saw the implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum as a valuable opportunity to review its approach and design programmes to suit its own community.

When reviewing the school curriculum, school leaders realised that many parents and whānau did not participate in or attend the annual ‘calf day’ because they did not have animals to bring. In response to this, the school initiated a horticultural section featuring vegetables, flowers and plants, and this increased both participation by Māori students and attendance by whānau. Mana has been given to this section by the introduction of cups and prizes and by the increased numbers of all students who wanted to participate.

The board of a decile 3 urban school with a roll of four percent Māori students took a strongly proactive approach. Trustees recognised their responsibilities for raising Māori student achievement throughout the school and consistently questioned the principal and senior leaders about achievement data and what was being done to improve it.

Other effective engagement strategies found in primary schools included:

  • the extensive use of te reo me ngā tikanga in the school
  • setting up a kaumatua-kuia [19] group
  • incorporating a tuakana-teina [20] approach
  • encouraging and supporting Māori students to take on responsibilities and leadership
  • setting up professional learning and development in a Māori-focused Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) initiative
  • establishing a whānau committee
  • setting strategic targets for engaging students and whānau
  • introducing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success to the board
  • linking with marae committees
  • including the chairperson of the whānau committee as an ex-officio board member
  • involving parents and whānau of pre-schoolers.

Engaging Māori students - what factors characterised the less effective primary schools?

Engagement of Māori students and whānau had not improved in seven percent of primary schools (15 schools) since the previous review. Most of these schools had done very little to increase engagement, although some had initiatives focused on addressing the needs of all students, including Māori. Although this approach can result in improvements for Māori students, it does little to reduce the disparities in Māori underachievement compared with other groups.

The principal of one school, for example, asserted that ‘we expect that all students will achieve, and we don’t single Māori out.’ The school’s charter identified a vision for engaging with Māori to embrace te reo me ngā tikanga, but nothing had been done about this since 2003, and Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success had not been considered. There had been no staff professional development or discussions, nor any community consultation to increase understanding of the issues or knowledge of effective strategies. The school had achievement data for Māori students for Years 4 to 6 writing, but no other separate information to show how well they were doing. ERO found that Years 4 and 5 Māori students’ writing levels at the school had dropped in 2008, and that most had achieved below average results.

Other reasons for lack of progress in some of the schools were:

  • high staff turnover
  • professional learning and development introduced but not embedded in practice
  • lack of reliable information on Māori students
  • not consulting Māori staff or whānau
  • inadequate monitoring of how well effective teaching strategies were implemented
  • negative staff attitudes, shown by resistance to change
  • a punitive approach to behaviour management.

Schools that were less effective at engaging Māori students and communities were generally less informed and more inclined to rationalise inaction through broad statements about the place of Māori in the school.

The achievement of Māori students

In order to focus on improvement, schools need to gather good information about Māori student achievement and progress. School leaders should ask themselves:

  • How well are Māori students achieving in our school and what is the evidence for this?
  • How well are Māori students achieving against national expectations (including standards, norms and benchmarks)?
  • How are Māori students achieving and progressing compared to other groups in the school and nationally?
  • How robust is the school’s information used to make judgements?
  • To what extent are Māori students purposefully engaged in learning and the wider life of the school?

Schools should use a range of achievement information to answer these questions. Analysis and review of such information enables schools to make more effective decisions on what their next steps should be to promote success for Māori students.

Secondary schools

Improved achievement overall

Almost half of the secondary schools in this evaluation had information that indicated some improvement in the achievement of Māori students since 2006. Eighteen percent demonstrated high levels of achievement for Māori.

Across the 60 secondary schools, Māori student achievement was more likely to have improved in decile 8 to 10 schools. Low decile secondary schools, however, were more likely to have improved the quality of assessment data collected and to have set appropriate targets for promoting success for Māori.

Use and analysis of data

ERO found that many secondary schools need to be more rigorous in their analysis and review of Māori student achievement, in order to evaluate the impact of their programmes and assist with decisions about future initiatives to promote success for these students.

In this evaluation ERO found that secondary school leaders clearly expected that curriculum leaders would review, analyse and report on Māori student achievement. Such expectations and guidelines were documented in schools’ policies and procedures.

Most secondary schools used more than one source of data. The most frequently used were NCEA, asTTle, [21] STAR[22] PATs, [23] MidYis, [24] and entry data from contributing schools. Three-quarters of the schools had good or high quality Māori achievement information.

Nevertheless, despite the availability of data, ERO found that the majority of secondary schools did not undertake adequate analysis of their Māori student achievement information. Of the 60 secondary schools in this evaluation, staff at only 15 percent of the schools conducted useful analysis to identify trends and patterns in achievement. Fifty-nine percent undertook some analysis, but the findings were not used effectively. Fourteen percent showed limited confidence with data analysis, and three percent did not conduct any analysis at all.

Māori students in Years 9 and 10: Literacy and numeracy achievement

Of the 60 secondary schools, approximately a quarter could provide detailed, reliable data on Māori student performance in literacy and numeracy in Years 9 and 10.

Of the 37 percent of secondary schools with less detailed and reliable data, 11 schools had no literacy information for Years 9 and 10, five had information for students overall but without separate analysis for Māori students, and two had only Year 9 entry data. Another two had only gathered literacy information related to NCEA credits, attributing gains to improved teaching practice in Years 9 and 10. One school used its own tests to measure student progress, and one had data for literacy in te reo Māori but none for English literacy.

A similar pattern was found in secondary schools’ knowledge about Years 9 and 10 Māori students’ progress in numeracy. As with English literacy achievement, some schools had useful information to measure achievement compared to national norms. However, most had either limited or no information from which to make useful comparisons.

Schools that had useful information on Māori students’ literacy and numeracy achievement knew how students had progressed, what levels they were at, and how their achievement compared with national norms. The following are examples of schools’ analyses of Māori student achievement information.

A decile 7 coeducational school, with a seven percent Māori roll Since 2004, Māori students as a group have performed below that of their non-Māori peers at the college, but above that of Māori girls nationally. Small numbers make comparisons difficult. The school uses PAT, CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring), and MidYis data to judge value added in literacy in Years 9 and 10, and identifies all the Māori students individually. All students in 2008 gained their literacy and numeracy requirements in Level 1 NCEA. In terms of value added, results vary considerably due to small numbers. In 2008, four out of six Māori students performed better than expected in literacy.

Decile 7 girls’ school, with an 11 percent Māori roll MidYis 2008 shows that Māori are disproportionally represented in C and D quartiles. [25] By 2009, 75 percent were in C and D compared with 50 percent of total Year 9 students.

Years 11 to 13: Māori students’ achievement in NCEA

Better information about Māori student achievement was available in Years 11 to 13. Most schools made good use of New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) data about Māori students’ achievement in NCEA. They analysed results by level and gender, and knew about trends by comparing cohorts in the school and over time. They also compared the achievement of Māori students with that of other groups in the school and in similar schools nationally. Most schools therefore knew their Māori students were achieving above or below national levels, and if there had been improvements.

Many schools could show improved achievement for Māori students in NCEA since their previous ERO reviews. The most improvement occurred in Level 1, where the achievement of Māori students increased in over half the schools. In half of the schools, student achievement in Level 2 had improved, and just under half the schools showed improvement in Level 3. More Māori students were succeeding and gaining qualifications in these schools than at the time of ERO’s previous review.

Seven schools had NCEA data that showed that Māori student achievement was lower than previously. Although there may be reasonable explanations for this situation it warrants further investigation by the schools.

It is of concern that despite the availability of useful data from NZQA, 10 schools did not know whether Māori student achievement in Levels 1 and 2 had improved or not. Fourteen schools did not know about progress in Level 3. These schools did not focus on Māori as a group, make the national comparisons, nor track results from year to year. Consequently, they did not adjust their teaching practices nor implement targeted initiatives.

Impact of initiatives to improve Māori students’ achievement

Almost all of the initiatives to improve literacy and numeracy achievement cited by secondary schools, were aimed at all students, and were not specifically targeted for Māori. Although Māori students were likely to have benefited from these initiatives, achievement gaps between Māori and other groups were less likely to be narrowed in schools where initiatives were not tailored to the particular needs of Māori.

ERO found very little information about the impact of initiatives on raising Māori student achievement in literacy and numeracy. Schools involved in Te Kotahitangawere the only ones that had tracked improvements in a systematic way. The few secondary schools that had initiatives for Māori students were still at an early stage of implementation. They had not yet gathered data to evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives in terms of student outcomes.

In one region, a school improvement project [26] for seven secondary schools had recently been introduced. The project involved academic monitoring of Māori students. Parents and whānau worked with small groups of students, discussing their learning and providing skills for improving their achievement. One of the goals of this project was to raise Māori achievement in the senior school by strengthening the literacy and numeracy base in Years 9 and 10. Although it was too early for participating schools to measure outcomes of the interventions, the fact that the project specifically targeted Māori meant that separate data was being gathered, analysed and used to plan responsively and contextually.

Primary schools

ERO found that primary schools with a high percentage of Māori students (51 percent or more enrolled) were more likely to have better quality data on Māori student achievement and to have appropriate targets for improvement. Primary schools with one or more Māori senior managers were also more likely than other schools to have appropriate targets for Māori student achievement.

Quality and use of achievement data

Overall ,the quality of achievement information collected about individual students, including Māori, was high or good in 79 percent of the primary schools. However, only 17 percent of the primary schools collected, analysed and used the data well to identify achievement patterns and trends for Māori students as a group, or to set appropriate targets for improved achievement.

Schools that had high quality information tended to collect data from a range of sources over time, analyse it for individuals and groups, identify trends and patterns, and use it to make appropriate responses to what they knew about the learning needs of Māori students. In effective primary schools, achievement data were used in school review and policy development, to report to the board and Māori community, and to set appropriate targets.

Effective school-wide assessment practice included:

  • clearly expressed school-wide guidelines for assessment that directs teachers to gather information from a range of sources over time
  • information that shows Māori student improvement and progress compared to nationally benchmarked assessments
  • comprehensive board reports that provide comparisons of progress over time
  • analysis of information for significant trends and patterns
  • assessment analyses contribute to resourcing and teaching decisions
  • assessment analyses give regard to Māori students in the bilingual unit as well as those in mainstream classes.

Literacy and numeracy achievement: improvement since previous review

A high proportion of the primary schools in this evaluation did not know if Māori students’ achievement in literacy and numeracy had improved since their previous ERO review. Many schools did not have baseline data on which to make this judgment. Forty-one percent of primary schools did not know if numeracy achievement had improved, while 33 percent did not know if there had been improvements in literacy achievement. Many schools did not analyse data separately for Māori students.

Twelve percent of schools had continued since 2006 to collect high quality achievement information specifically about Māori students. The quality of information collected had substantially improved in 27 percent of schools.

Twenty-seven percent of primary schools could demonstrate that Māori student achievement in literacy was higher than at the time of their previous review. Numeracy achievement was improving more slowly, with 22 percent showing Māori students achieving better than previously.

Impact of initiatives to improve Māori students’ achievement

Very few primary schools in this study had initiated programmes or strategies specifically to improve the effectiveness of literacy and numeracy teaching and learning for Māori students. Most schools had at least one school-wide project under way in these areas, however, few had baseline data for Māori or separate analyses of the impact of the initiatives for Māori student learning. Therefore they did not know the extent to which improvement had occurred for these students. There remains a risk that although improvements may have occurred for all students, disparities between Māori students and their peers will continue.