This report is the latest in a series produced by ERO over the past three years about secondary schools in New Zealand.

It looks at how 40 secondary schools inquire about and respond to achievement data, with a particular emphasis on the schools’ analysis of their National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2 results. This report is useful for informing what practices are working and what are not in helping meet the Government’s goal of having 85 percent of 18-year-olds achieving the NCEA Level 2 or equivalent by 2017.

One-quarter of schools in the sample were effectively using inquiry and improvement approaches to raise student achievement. The remaining three-quarters had further progress to make.

The most effective schools emphasised the importance of teachers knowing their students well and improving links with families and whānau, particularly for those students at risk of underachievement. The less effective schools lacked the evidence that their inquiry and improvement approaches had really raised student achievement. There was a clear need for more systematic monitoring of the impact of their strategies for students.

Many schools had improved their mentoring and pastoral care of students so they could provide additional support for students at risk of not achieving their NCEA qualifications. However, there was little recent evidence of innovative changes to curriculum to improve student achievement.

Many schools in the sample would benefit from gaining greater insights into what was working well in their curriculum and what should change if they were going to influence and potentially raise student achievement. By showing the approaches taken by effective schools, ERO hopes that other schools will find this information useful in their own settings.

Rob McIntosh

Chief Review Officer (Acting)

June 2014