ERO evaluated the extent to which schools had undertaken deliberate actions that led to an increase in the number of students achieving at or above national standards. The evaluation involved 193 schools undergoing an education review in Terms 2 and 3, 2013. These schools were using The New Zealand Curriculum and the national standards. The types of schools, roll size, school locality (urban or rural), and decile range are shown in Appendix 1.

ERO’s judgement was based on the:

  • proportion of students who had accelerated progress in relation to the number of students underachieving and the total number of students in the school
  • deliberateness and coherence of actions associated with accelerating progress
  • depth of knowledge about how to extend reach so more students were achieving success than before.

Accelerating progress

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

The investigation 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 own past learning when using norm-referenced tools that assessed the breadth of reading, writing or mathematics. It needed to be faster progress than classmates progressing at expected rates. This acknowledged the need for equitable outcomes, and took into account acceleration over less than one year.

Deliberateness and depth

If leaders and teachers do not know what they have done to accelerate some students’ progress they will not be able to apply this knowledge to scale up, spread and extend their reach to more students. The investigation considered deliberateness in teacher and leader actions to improve outcomes and to evaluate impact. It also considered teacher and leader depth of knowledge about particular students’ learning, interests and needs, and about curriculum progression to know what and how to teach so students’ learning progressed at expected rates.

Evaluation questions

ERO evaluated schools’ capability to do something different for students achieving below expectation. In schools that had taken deliberate actions and improved student outcomes, ERO explored the triggers for the particular group of students the school identified. ERO also evaluated how the school sustained the focus on improving outcomes for students achieving below or well below year group expectation.

The investigative questions for the schools that had an innovative response to underachievement were:

  1. What triggered the need to do something different?
  2. How did the school know whatto do differently?
  3. How did the schoolknow what worked, when, why and for who?
  4. How is the school ensuring it has learnt from this focus on acceleration so outcomes are improved for more students?

In schools that had a more‑of‑the‑same response to underachievement, ERO explored the following:

  1. What can be built on to focus on acceleration?
  2. What needs to be done differently?
  3. How can the capability be built to do this?

The framework below highlights these questions. The evaluation prompts are in Appendix 2.

this image is the framework for evaluation and questions the centre is a circle which  starts with description of the students below or well below national standards for their year group, next is identification of learning strengths and needs and setting priorities in reation to school goals, then responding with innovations that accelerate learning, next is responding to the impact of innovations that accelerated and improved student outcomes and lastly refocus.  The questions that arise of these are what can be built onto focus accerleation? what needs to be done differently? how can the capability be built to do this? What triggered the need to do something different? what triggered knowing what to do differently? how did the school know what worked when why and for who? How is the school ensuring it has learnt from this focus on accereation so there are improved outcomes for more students?