This evaluation included all 40 RTLB clusters. The data gathering took place in two phases. The first phase was a trial of the approach in two RTLB clusters in early May 2017. The trial provided an opportunity to test the evaluation framework, approach to scoping, data gathering, exit discussion and analysis of data using a synthesis rubric. The second phase took place from mid‑June to late‑September 2017 and involved the project team evaluating the remaining 38 RTLB clusters.
In this evaluation, ERO asked the following questions: 
The Ministry of Education and an External Reference Group made up of four RTLB cluster managers, four lead school principals and a representative from the RTLB Association were involved in developing these questions.
ERO’s Approach to data gathering
ERO considered information from a variety of sources. Meetings were held with key stakeholders including representatives from cluster schools and kura (including principals/tumuaki) and Special Education Needs Coordinators (SENCO) or their equivalent, and cluster managers, lead school board of trustees, lead school principals, practice leaders, groups of RTLB.  At the end of each onsite phase ERO evaluators met with the cluster manager, lead school principal and a lead school board member to discuss the tentative findings for their cluster. This ‘exit meeting’ focused on:
ERO also analysed cluster documentation, including internal evaluation information, monitoring and reporting and operational policies and procedures.
A rubric was used as a tool to synthesise the findings in each cluster review. The rubric was based on the one used in the 2009 ERO evaluation, with refinements made to reflect the current RTLB cluster model and broad expectations in the Funding and Service Agreement. The synthesis rubric was the basis of reviewers’ judgments about the performance of each cluster. These judgements were moderated as part of ERO’s quality assurance process. Moderation of the judgments took place mid way through the reviews, and at the end when ERO had visited all 40 clusters. The evidence gathered in each cluster review and the criteria in the rubric were used for the moderation process. This national evaluation report pulls together the overall findings.