This report reinforces the importance for schools to identify the specific needs of individual students and to build a plan around those needs to raise student achievement for all.

The biggest challenge for the New Zealand education system is the persistent disparities in achievement. Setting effective targets and creating the conditions in which all kids can excel will reduce these disparities. When this happens, the focus is on the students with leaders and teachers adapting their practice to realise their students’ potential.

This report is full of stories of schools taking action to make a difference for kids previously at risk of underachievement. The stories echo what we already know matters most in achieving positive student outcomes. The key ingredients for equity and excellence in education are articulated in the School Evaluation Indicators. At the heart of these stories is the expectation that every student can achieve excellence with the acknowledgement that some kids need more help than others to get there. 

Setting the target and then taking effective action requires good information, scrutiny, perseverance and an approach in which all parties– leaders, teachers, trustees, parents and whanau, and students - are active and committed. Underpinning this is an ongoing cycle of evaluation – schools scrutinise data, identify the target, take action, monitor the impact and make any necessary changes.

This report gives leaders and teachers an insight into setting effective targets and accelerating progress. The stories complement the School Evaluation Indicators, the internal evaluation resource - School Effective Evaluation: How to do and use internal evaluation for improvement and other ERO reports about raising student achievement. Collectively, this information provides a library of the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ when it comes to improving student outcomes. It also shows that success is possible.

Iona Holsted

December 2015