National report summary

ERO’s evaluation, Raising achievement in primary schools (June 2014) found that involvement in Accelerating Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) or Accelerating Literacy Learning (ALL)projects triggered some schools to accelerate progress for students underachieving. The Ministry of Education asked ERO to explore this further.

What did ERO find?

Of the primary schools reviewed in Terms 2 and 3 2013, 93 had been involved in ALiM or ALL programmes between 2010 and early 2013.

The leaders and teachers in more than half of the 93 had undertaken deliberate and successful actions to accelerate the progress of students underachieving. They understood that supplementary support complements the curriculum and the demands of the classroom curriculum determine the supplementary support. They also understood any inquiry into practice required a team approach and a disposition for change.

Many teachers talked about the changes they had made in beliefs and practices and the positive impact this had on student outcomes.

AliM and ALL are two Ministry-funded projects that focus on using the school’s expertise to successfully undertake a short-term intervention to accelerate the progress of students. This intervention is in addition to effective classroom teaching.

Effective schools

Effective schools had focused on inequity and improved outcomes for individual Māori and Pacific students, and English language learners.

Leaders and teachers knew each student’s progress. They used a range of assessment tools to find out whether progress had accelerated during and directly after the supplementary support. Ongoing progress was closely monitored and a new response implemented if progress had not accelerated or had plateaued.

Effective schools had also developed a rich picture of improvement from classroom observations of student behaviour and interactions with other students, student surveys and interviews, and parent interviews.

What were the long term impacts?

  • Students’ confidence in one area influenced motivation, engagement and success in another. This confidence was also seen at home.

“Now we don’t have enough paper in the house to keep up with him wanting to write.” (Parent)

  • Students were energised by their success.

“It has been an amazing experience. It got me to a place I never thought I’d get to. We’ve done lots of things and I’ve learnt about lots of things. Now I have ‘cool’ things to write about.” (Student)

The ALiM and ALL design features of a school‑based inquiry team, external mentoring and formal inquiry into the intensive instruction positively influenced these outcomes.

Effective schools had also developed a rich picture of improvement from classroom observations of student behaviour and interactions with other students, student surveys and interviews, and parent interviews.

What did ERO mean by ‘accelerated progress’?

ERO focused on the individual student’s accelerated progress, rather than the overall increase in the proportion of students achieving at a school. Improvement in the progress of individual students contributes to the overall goal of all students achieving.

The evaluation considered both short and long‑term acceleration of progress. Progress was considered to be accelerated when the student’s achievement moved from well below to below, at or above a national standard, or from below to at or above. This meant the student made more than one year’s progress over a year.

Progress was also considered to be accelerated when the student’s progress was noticeably faster than might otherwise have been expected from their past learning when using norm-referenced tools that assessed the breadth of reading, writing or mathematics. It needed to be faster than classmates progressing at expected rates. These considerations acknowledged the need for equitable outcomes, and took into account acceleration over less than one year.

Evaluation framework and questions

Effective schools planned from the following four questions from the beginning of the inquiry.