Process indicators

Domain 1: Stewardship 

New Zealand has devolved educational governance to local boards of trustees of which the principal and a staff representative are members, as is a student representative in the case of secondary schools. This means that there is a close relationship between governance and leadership, and the expectation is that trustees will work strategically and collaboratively with the principal, staff and students to realise the school community’s vision and values and achieve agreed goals and targets.

The stewardship role of boards encompasses both accountability and improvement functions. Boards have specific legal responsibilities under the Education Act 1989. Although evidence relating to the effectiveness of boards is limited, recent studies suggest that an improvement-oriented stewardship role is most likely to promote enhanced learning outcomes.1

Effective stewardship involves planning for, and acting in, the school’s medium and long-term interests. To set strategic direction, goals and priorities, the board needs trustworthy information about the needs and aspirations of the students and the school community. Once strategic direction is agreed, policies, processes and practices must be aligned. How effectively boards represent and serve the school community depends very largely on their members’ ability to establish trust-based relationships.

The main task of a board of trustees is scrutiny, including self-scrutiny: ‘Are we doing the right thing here?’ This scrutiny should focus on valued student outcomes, transparent sharing of information (without which scrutiny is impossible), and ongoing evaluation of performance in relation to goals and targets: ‘What difference will this make for students, and how will we know?’ Effective boards seek honest, insightful evaluation and are willing to take hard decisions in the interests of students.

Board members exercise agency in their role, drawing on their networks and expertise to strengthen organisational capacity and effectiveness.2

Domain 1: Indicators and examples of effective practice

Evaluation indicators

Effective practice

The board actively represents and serves the school and education community in its stewardship role

Relationships between trustees and professional leaders are based on:

  • trust, integrity and openness
  • clarity about roles and responsibilities
  • transparent sharing of knowledge in the interests of improving valued outcomes.

The board works with the school community to develop and periodically refresh the school’s vision, values, strategic direction, and equity and excellence goals and targets.

The board recruits, appoints and supports a principal who will pursue the school’s vision, implement its values and strategic direction, and realise its equity and excellence goals and targets.

The board ensures the school curriculum is inclusive and responsive to local needs, contexts and the environment, and enables all students to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners.

The board builds relational trust and develops culturally responsive relationships with the school community to ensure active, reciprocal communication with, and participation in, the life of the school.

The board proactively develops networks that enable the school to extend and enrich the curriculum and increase the learning opportunities and pathways available to students and contributes to other schools’ capacity to do so.

The board scrutinises the effectiveness of the school in achieving valued student outcomes

Student learning, wellbeing, achievement and progress is the board’s core concern. Trustees access a range of quality student data and evaluative information, including the perspectives of students, parents, whänau and community, and use it to support:

  • their understanding of what is going well, and why, and not well, and why
  • identification of priorities and targets, based on analysis of trends, patterns and progress
  • the asking of challenging questions about planning and process (‘What difference will this make for students, and how will we know?’)
  • the making of decisions that will improve student outcomes, taking into account evidence about the effectiveness of any proposed approach
  • coherent planning and development
  • strategic resourcing of strategies directed at improving student outcomes
  • rigorous, honest evaluation of the effectiveness of strategies designed to improve student outcomes.

The board manages the performance of the principal, linking appraisal goals to the school’s strategic goals and priorities and to appropriate professional learning and development opportunities.

The board evaluates how effectively it is fulfilling the stewardship role with which it has been entrusted


  • have a shared understanding of the trustee role and responsibilities
  • identify and use each other’s knowledge, expertise and experience
  • review and reflect on their effectiveness as a board in supporting the school to realise its vision, values, strategic direction, goals and targets
  • seek relevant advice and resources
  • maximise their effectiveness through induction and ongoing training, sharing of responsibilities, and succession planning.
 The board effectively meets its statutory responsibilities

The board ensures that:

  • the school meets its statutory curriculum, human resource, health and safety, financial, property and administration responsibilities
  • the school’s charter sets out long-term goals that are translated into annual targets  
  • school policies and procedures are coherent and fit for purpose
  • human resource management procedures and practices promote quality education outcomes and safety
  • the school provides a physically and emotionally safe environment for all students
  • there is regular monitoring, evaluation and reporting in relation to statutory delegations.

Domain 2: Leadership for equity and excellence

Leadership is the exercise of influence, whether based on positional authority, personal characteristics, or quality of ideas.3 While only formally appointed leaders have positional authority, any teacher can potentially exercise the other two sources of influence. Every member of a school’s teaching team needs to exercise context and task-specific leadership if the work of the team is to contribute to the collective goal of achieving equity and excellence of student outcomes.4 This is why this domain interprets leadership in its broadest sense – not limited to those with formal leadership positions but distributed across the entire staff team.

Effective leadership is a defining characteristic of communities of learning where student outcomes are equitable and excellence is the norm.5 In pursuing equity and excellence, effective leaders explicitly attend to the relationships, structures and processes that perpetuate inequity and lack of opportunity to learn:

[They] engage in dialogue, examine current practice, and create pedagogical conversations and communities that critically build on, and do not devalue, students’ lived experiences … [they take] account of the ways in which the inequities of the outside world affect the outcomes of what occurs internally in educational organisations.6

The dimensions of leadership practice that have a significant impact on student outcomes include: establishing goals and expectations; resourcing strategically; designing, evaluating and coordinating the curriculum and teaching; leading professional learning; and ensuring an orderly and supportive environment.7

Effective leaders work with the school community to establish a compelling vision. They link this vision to a small number of priority improvement goals that are grounded in an analysis of relevant student data and information about teaching practice. They analyse how school practices may be contributing to the current situation, consider research evidence about what is effective in terms of raising student outcomes, and then determine improvement strategies. They support the agreed strategies with a coherent approach that interweaves pedagogical change, organisational change, and the building of leader and teacher capability.

Effective leaders strategically align resourcing to support improvement goals and strategies. For example, to ensure that teachers have sufficient opportunity to develop the necessary new knowledge and skills, they may rearrange staff responsibilities, provide time allowances, and repurpose and restructure meetings.

Under effective leadership, a school community works together to create a positive environment that is inclusive, values diversity, and promotes student wellbeing; and it organises the teaching programme so that all students are given equitable opportunities to learn from a rich curriculum.8 

Effective leadership develops, implements and reviews school policies and routines to ensure that money, time, materials and staffing are allocated and organised in ways that support student participation and engagement. Attention is paid to establishing an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing. In the absence of such an environment, improvement is difficult.9

Leaders in high performing schools directly involve themselves in planning, coordinating and evaluating the curriculum and teaching. They are likely to  be found observing in classrooms, providing developmental feedback, and participating in professional discussions about teaching, learning and student outcomes. Research evidence shows that when leaders promote and engage  in professional learning alongside teachers this has a significant influence on student outcomes.10 

In high performing schools, leaders ensure that evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building activities are purposeful, systematic and coherent, interconnected at student, teacher, classroom and school levels, and supported by the selection, design and use of smart tools. By building relational trust at all levels of the school community they support openness, collaboration and risk taking, and receptiveness to change and improvement.11 They understand that growing evaluation capacity is a key to sustaining and embedding improvement.

Effective leaders value parents, whānau and the wider community and actively involve them in the life and work of the school, encouraging reciprocal, learning-centred relationships; these extend to other educational institutions that serve the students. As a result, the school curriculum is enriched by community and cultural resources while reciprocal learning opportunities lead to increased participation, engagement and achievement.

Domain 2: Indicators and examples of effective practice

Evaluation Indicators Effective practice
Leadership collaboratively develops and pursues the school’s vision, goals and targets for equity and excellence

Leadership seeks out the perspectives and aspirations of students, parents and whānau, and incorporates them in the school’s vision, values, goals and targets.

Leadership sets and relentlessly pursues a small number of goals and targets that relate to accelerating the learning of students who are at risk of underachievement.

Leadership uses a range of evidence from evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building activities for the purposes of selecting, developing and reviewing strategies for improvement.

Allocation of resources (for example, staffing and time) is clearly aligned to the school’s vision, values, goals and targets.

Leadership buffers and integrates external policy requirements and initiatives in ways that support achievement of the school’s vision, values, goals and targets.

Leadership ensures an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing

Leadership establishes clear and consistent social expectations that are designed to support teaching and learning.

Leadership ensures that efficient and equitable management routines are in place and consistently applied.

Leadership identifies and resolves conflict quickly and effectively.

Leadership involves students in the development of an environment that supports their learning and wellbeing.

Leadership provides multiple opportunities for students to provide feedback on the quality of the teaching they receive and its impact on their learning and wellbeing.

Leadership ensures that policies and practices promote students’ wellbeing; confidence in their identity, language and culture; and engagement in learning.

Leadership ensures effective planning, coordination and evaluation of the school’s curriculum and teaching

The school curriculum is coherent, inclusive, culturally responsive, and clearly aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum and/or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Leadership ensures that community and cultural resources are integrated into relevant aspects of the school curriculum.

Leadership actively involves students, parents and whānau in the development, implementation and evaluation of curriculum.

Leadership ensures that the school’s teaching programme is structured so that all students have maximum opportunity to learn and achieve at or above the appropriate standard.  

Leadership promotes and participates in teacher learning and development12

Leadership ensures alignment of student learning needs, teacher professional learning goals, and processes for teacher appraisal and attestation.

Teacher professional learning and development is focused and deep rather than fragmented and shallow.

Leadership builds the capability of teachers to be leaders who promote and support the improvement of teaching and learning.

Organisational structures, processes and practices strengthen and sustain focused professional learning and collaborative activity to improve teaching and learning.

Team meetings maximise the time spent on using evidence of student learning for collective inquiry into the effectiveness of teaching practice.13

Leadership identifies and develops internal expertise, with the support of external expertise as appropriate, to ensure that improvement goals are met.


Leadership builds collective capacity to do evaluation and inquiry for sustained improvement


Leadership establishes the expectation that teachers will learn how to improve their teaching by engaging in collective inquiry into the effectiveness of current practice.

Leadership establishes the conditions for effective evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building in the service of improvement.

Leadership provides an accurate, defensible evaluation of the school’s performance and engages constructively with external evaluation.

Leadership promotes the use of internal and external evaluation for improvement. 

Leadership builds relational trust and effective collaboration at every level of the school community


Leadership actively involves students, parents, whānau and the community in reciprocal and collaborative learning-centred relationships.

Leadership builds trust with students, parents, whānau and the community.

Leadership builds strong, educationally focused relationships with other educational and community institutions to increase opportunities for student learning and success.

Domain 3: Educationally powerful connections and relationships

Parents and whānau are the primary and ongoing influence on the development, learning, wellbeing and self-efficacy of their children. So it is important that schools engage with them and involve them in school activities, particularly those that are focused on learning.14

A growing body of New Zealand research shows that by establishing educationally powerful connections and relationships with parents, whänau and communities, schools gain access to a greater and deeper range of resources to support their educational efforts. In this way they enhance outcomes for all students, but especially for those who have been under-served by the system and/or are at  risk, and can achieve large positive effects on academic and social outcomes.

Research findings highlight the importance of understanding the processes by which effective school–whānau–community connections and relationships are developed and the need for schools to take agency in building relationships that focus on teaching and learning. Berryman identifies four principles that are important when engaging with Māori communities: identify who you are, build relational trust, listen to communities, and respond accordingly.15

Different types of school–home connection vary in their effectiveness. Approaches that promote reciprocal, learning-centred relationships with teachers and the school positively influence student outcomes. Such approaches recognise, respect and value the diverse identities, languages and cultures of the school community, draw on its funds of knowledge, and make connections to students’ lives outside the school. Joint parent/whānau and teacher interventions that are designed to help parents or other community members support student learning at home and school while also engaging teachers in professional learning and development have the greatest impact of all.16

Providing parents and whānau with the tools to support learning at home can have a significant impact on student outcomes. These might include carefully designed, interactive homework, workshops such as those associated with the Reading Together17 programme, or mathematics activities and materials.18

Effective schools proactively identify and draw on community resources and expertise to increase learning opportunities and enhance student achievement and wellbeing.

The purpose of school–home involvement is to connect in-school and out-of-school learning in ways that will support valued outcomes for students. If effective connections are to be developed, teachers need to value the educational cultures of their students’ families and communities, and parents need to learn about and value the educational culture of the school. The principle of ako – reciprocal learning and teaching – is therefore fundamental to developing connections that work.19

 This is a photo of a female teacher and a little girl doing a jigsaw

Domain 3: Indicators and examples of effective practice

Evaluation indicators

Effective practice
School and community are engaged in reciprocal, learning-centred relationships 

Parents, whānau and the community are welcomed and involved in school activities as respected and valued partners in learning.

Taking a strengths-based approach, leaders and teachers recognise and affirm the diverse identities, languages and cultures of parents, whänau and the community, and actively broker engagement and participation.

Leaders and teachers actively participate in whānau and community activities.

Parents, whānau and the community participate in school activities and contribute constructively to decision making in a variety of productive roles.

Communication supports and strengthens reciprocal, learning-centred relationships

A range of appropriate and effective communication strategies is used to communicate with and engage parents, whānau and community.

Students, parents, whānau and teachers have shared understandings of curriculum goals and the teaching and learning process, and engage in productive learning conversations.

Parents, whānau and teachers work together with students to identify their strengths and learning needs, set goals, and plan responsive learning strategies and activities.

Students, parents, whānau and teachers know the different pathways, programmes, options and supports available and participate in decision making at critical transition points.

Student learning at home is actively promoted through the provision of relevant learning opportunities, resources and support

Parents and whānau receive information and participate in learning opportunities that enable them to constructively support their children’s learning.

Any homework assigned is carefully designed to promote purposeful interactions between parents and children, with teachers providing timely, descriptive oral or written feedback.

Leadership and teachers enable parents and whānau to support their children’s learning by providing them with materials and connecting them to community resources.

Community collaborations enrich opportunities for students to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners

Teachers, parents, whānau and community engage in joint activities and interventions to improve learning and/or behaviour.

School and community work together to support students to make effective transitions at critical points on their educational journey.

The school proactively identifies and draws on community resources to enhance student learning opportunities, achievement and wellbeing.

Domain 4: Responsive curriculum, effective teaching and opportunity to learn

The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa describe the education outcomes that we want for our young people and what they can expect in terms of breadth and depth of learning opportunities at school. These curriculum documents articulate a vision and values, principles, key competencies and areas of learning that provide the basis for an education that will enable young people to be successful in the complex and uncertain world they will experience.

The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa are supported by National Standards in mathematics, reading and writing in primary education and by assessment standards that contribute to the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) in senior secondary education.

The curriculum is enabling and future focused and is intended to promote self-efficacy. This requires a learner-centred approach, where teachers choose contexts and design learning opportunities in discussion with their students, and support them to work collaboratively on challenges and problems set in real-world contexts.20

Responsive curriculum incorporates connections to students’ lives, prior understandings, and out-of-school experiences. It draws on and adds to parent, whānau, and community funds of knowledge. Student identities, languages and cultures are represented in materials used in the enacted curriculum. Cultural and linguistic diversity are viewed as strengths to be nurtured.

An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) synthesis of recent research identifies seven core principles for designing learning environments:

  • the learner is at the centre, active engagement is encouraged and learners develop understandings of themselves as learners
  • the social and often collaborative nature of learning is recognised and well-organised; cooperative learning is actively encouraged
  • learning professionals are highly attuned to learners’ motivations and the importance of emotions
  • opportunities to learn are acutely sensitive to individual differences including in prior knowledge
  • learning is demanding for each learner but without excessive overload
  • assessment for learning with a strong emphasis on formative feedback is used
  • horizontal connectedness across areas of knowledge and learning activities, as well as to the community and the wider world, is strongly promoted.21

These are similar to the research-based principles summarised by the International Academy of Education in 2001.22

Quality of teaching is a major determinant of outcomes for diverse students:23 what teachers know and do is one of the most important influences on what students learn.24 One comparative study found that students starting out at a similar level of achievement could be as many as 53 percentiles apart after three years, depending on the capabilities of their teacher.25

In New Zealand, education environments that reflect a Māori worldview and ways of working (for example, with respect to whanaungatanga and ako) offer significantly enhanced learning opportunities for all students. By observing effective teachers of Māori students, initiatives such as Te Kotahitanga and Kia Eke Panuku have been able to identify the dimensions of practice that create a culturally responsive classroom or school.26

The Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme has identified 10 dimensions of quality teaching that make a bigger difference to valued outcomes for diverse (all) learners:27 

  • focus on valued student outcomes / kia arotahia ngā hua ākonga uara nui
  • use knowledge, evidence, and inquiry to improve teaching / ko te mātauranga, te taunakitanga me te uiui hei whakapai ake i te whakaako
  • select, develop, and use smart tools and worthwhile tasks / ngā taputapu ngaio me ngā mahi whaikiko – whiria, mahia
  • ensure sufficient and effective opportunities for all students to learn / rau te ako, rau te mahi tōtika, rau te hua
  • develop caring, collaborative learning communities that are inclusive of diverse (all) learners / he piringa tauawhi, he piringa mahitahi, he piringa tauakoako, he piringa ākonga rerekura (katoa)
  • activate educationally powerful connections to learners’ knowledge, experiences, identities, whānau, iwi, and communities / whakatere hono ākonga torokaha, ākonga tū kaha
  • scaffold learning and provide appropriate feed forward and feedback on learning / te ako poutama
  • be responsive to all students’ learning, identities, and wellbeing / me aro ki te hā o te ākonga
  • promote thoughtful learning strategies, thoughtful discourse, and student self-regulation / takina te wānanga
  • use assessment for learning / te aromatawai i roto i te ako.

While research has identified key dimensions of teaching that are important for advancing valued student outcomes, these dimensions are interrelated and interconnected in the complex dynamic of effective teaching.28

Effective teaching requires deep and flexible knowledge of subject matter, how students learn, and curriculum-specific pedagogy.29 It is this knowledge and expertise that enables teachers to use formative assessment effectively to improve learning30 and to develop students’ capacity to evaluate their own and others’ work.31

Effective use of formative assessment can have a significant influence on student outcomes32  so it is important that teachers ‘see their fundamental role as evaluators and activators of learning’.33

Teachers need to be data literate:

Data literacy for teaching is the ability to transform information into actionable instructional knowledge and practices by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting all types of data (assessment, school climate, behavioural, snapshot, moment-to-moment, and so on) to help determine instructional steps. It combines an understanding of data with standards, disciplinary knowledge and practices, curricular knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and an understanding of how children learn.34

They also need to be sufficiently knowledgeable about and confident with current technologies to be able to use them effectively to support innovative teaching and create new opportunities to learn.

Adaptive expertise

To be able to promote the wellbeing, achievement and progress of all their students and prepare them for living in the world they will encounter as adults, teachers need adaptive expertise.35

Adaptive expertise is a fundamentally different way of conceptualising what it means to be a professional. Its defining characteristic is the ability to respond flexibly in complex contexts:

Adaptive experts know when students are not learning, know where to go next, can adapt resources and strategies to help students meet worthwhile learning intentions, and can recreate or alter the classroom climate to attain these learning goals.36

Adaptive experts apply deep conceptual knowledge to problems not previously encountered and develop new solutions and approaches. This flexible, innovative application of knowledge is what lies beneath their ability to learn and refine their understanding on the basis of continuing experience.37 Being able to work in a collaborative environment enhances the development of adaptive expertise.  

Adaptive experts engage in ongoing inquiry with the aim of building knowledge. This is the core of professionalism.38

This is a photo of a teacher discussing things with older school students 

Domain 4: Indicators and examples of effective practice

Evaluation indicators Effective practice

Students learn, achieve and progress in the breadth and depth of The New Zealand Curriculum and/or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa

Students, teachers and parents and whänau set challenging and appropriate expectations for learning.

Students, teachers and parents and whānau participate in curriculum design and decision making.

Management of the curriculum ensures that it is coherent and that students have sufficient opportunity to learn (consider, for example, time allocated to learning areas, teacher knowledge and expertise, and resources).

Curriculum design and enactment is responsive to the aspirations of students, parents, and whānau, drawing on and adding to their funds of knowledge.

Curriculum design and enactment ensures that every student is learning and makes sufficient progress to achieve curriculum expectations and standards.

Students participate and learn in caring, collaborative, inclusive learning communities

Relationships are respectful and productive; difference and diversity are valued. Instructional organisation, task design, modelling, and grouping practices develop community and promote active learning.

Students develop dialogue and group work skills and participate in group-based learning activities where they draw on individual strengths to complete group tasks.

The learning community is characterised by respect, empathy, relational trust, cooperation and teamwork.

Students experience positive transitions between learning contexts.

Students have effective, sufficient and equitable opportunities to learn

The learning environment is managed in ways that support participation, engagement, and agency in learning.

Learning opportunities enable students to relate new information to prior knowledge and to modify existing conceptions as necessary.

In each learning area students engage in cognitively challenging and purposeful learning opportunities that relate to real-life contexts, issues and experiences.

Students are given sufficient, related opportunities over time to revisit and consolidate learning through practice and review and by applying it in a range of purposeful activities.

Students experience an environment in which it is safe to take risks and errors are regarded as opportunities for learning.

Participation in effective heterogeneous (mixed ability) group activities provides students with cognitive challenge and opportunities for deep learning.39

Students whose culture/first language differs from the culture/language of instruction are well supported to access learning.

Students with special needs or abilities participate in learning opportunities that provide appropriate support and challenge.40

Students are given explicit instruction in learning strategies (such as goal setting, self-monitoring and deliberate practice) that enable them to take control of their learning, develop meta-cognitive skills, self-regulate, and develop self-efficacy and agency.

Effective, culturally responsive pedagogy supports and promotes student learning 

Student identities and whānau and community knowledge, language and culture are represented in curriculum materials and the enacted curriculum.

The curriculum makes connections to learners’ lives, prior understandings, out-of-school experiences and real-world contexts.

The cultural competencies for teachers of Māori students – tātaiako: manaakitanga, ako, whanaungatanga, wānanga and tangata whenuatanga – can be observed in teacher practice.41

Teaching practices are consistent with culturally responsive and relational pedagogies.42

Teachers use differentiation and a variety of teaching strategies to engage students and ensure a balance of surface, deep and conceptual learning.43

Teaching practices such as questioning, wait time, and providing opportunities for application, problem solving and invention engage students in learning and thinking.

Student learning is scaffolded through the use of practices such as prompts, open questions, explanations, worked examples and active discussion and through the provision of appropriate tools and resources.

Students develop learning-to-learn capabilities by engaging in disciplinary thinking (for example, nature of science or historical) and in thinking that extends across learning areas.

Teachers promote achievement of learning outcomes by deliberately aligning task design, teaching activities and resources, and home support.

Students use digital devices and ICT resources in ways that promote productive thinking and digital and technological fluency.44 

Assessment for learning develops students’ assessment and learning-to-learn capabilities

Teachers and students co-construct challenging but realistic learning goals and success criteria, developing shared understandings about the kind and quality of work required to achieve the desired outcome.

Assessment activities are inclusive, authentic and fit-for-purpose; they provide meaningful evidence of achievement and progress and a basis for determining next steps.

Students receive and give timely, specific, descriptive feedback in response to these questions:

  • Where am I going? (What are my goals?)
  • How am I going? (What progress is being made towards the goal?)
  • Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken next to make continuing or better progress?)
  • How will I know when I’ve got there?

Students identify their own learning needs and develop and use self-assessment skills to evaluate their own and others’ work against clear criteria.

Students provide feedback to teachers about the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning.45

Teachers, parents and whänau actively participate in, and contribute to, students’ learning journeys through ongoing, reciprocal communication.

Domain 5: Professional capability and collective capacity 

Building professional capability and collective capacity is a core function of leadership.46 This means that leaders need to ensure that teachers are continuously engaged in professional learning that increases their knowledge and skills and develops their adaptive expertise.47

Students are the focus of all effective professional learning: enhancing student outcomes is both the purpose of professional learning and the basis for evaluating its success.

Effective professional learning involves ongoing cycles of evidence-informed inquiry. It begins with leaders and teachers collecting and analysing a range of evidence that will help them answer the question, ‘What is going on for students in relation to the outcomes that we value?’ The perspectives of students, parents and whānau will be included in this evidence along with that of professionals. 

When discrepancies emerge between what is wanted and what is happening, these will provide a catalyst for challenging low expectations and deficit theories48 and for engaging in further collaborative analysis and investigation to uncover the reasons. This collaborative sense-making process will inform decisions about what needs to change in the way of beliefs, practices and organisational conditions.

Leaders and teachers then identify focus areas for professional learning, select opportunities that will deepen knowledge and refine skills, and engage students in new learning experiences. The effectiveness of changes in practice will be evaluated in terms of improved student learning and outcomes.49

Powerful professional learning draws on the best available research about  ‘what makes a bigger difference’. It integrates development of teacher content knowledge with understanding of how students learn the content and how it can be communicated in meaningful ways. 

The evidence-informed inquiry process supports development and evaluation of innovative practice and the use of technology through collaboration across the professional and student learning communities.

Effective leaders continue to provide and resource focused opportunities  for collaborative inquiry and application of new learning until the necessary improvement in student outcomes has been achieved. When carefully selected, planned and used, strategies that support professional conversations50 and collaborative learning contribute to the development of professional capability. In improving practice, internal expertise often needs to be supplemented by relevant external expertise. External expertise can play an important role by challenging thinking and practices and providing support during the change process. 

Teachers who work in supportive professional environments that encourage  deep learning make greater gains in effectiveness over time than those who  find themselves in environments that are less conducive to learning.51  

This photo is of a woman teacher sitting and talking with older girl students

Domain 5: Indicators and examples of effective practice

Evaluation indicators Effective practice 

A strategic and coherent approach to human resource management builds professional capability and collective capacity

Effective leaders and teachers are recruited, selected and retained.

Induction of new teachers is systematic and focused on the development of adaptive expertise.

Teachers are well qualified and have relevant curriculum, assessment and pedagogical knowledge.

Teachers act ethically and with agency to ensure that all students achieve valued outcomes.

Teachers have the cultural competence and expertise to provide inclusive and productive learning environments for diverse students.

Coherent performance management processes:

  • enable identification of teachers’ professional learning and development needs
  • use multiple sources of feedback (individual and team) on teacher effectiveness
  • provide professional learning opportunities that are responsive to identified needs and align with the school’s strategic goals.

Ineffective performance is identified and addressed.

Systematic, collaborative inquiry processes and challenging professional learning opportunities align with the school vision, values, goals and targets

The professional community:

  • shares high, clear and equitable expectations for student learning, achievement, progress and wellbeing
  • gathers, analyses and uses evidence of student learning and outcomes to improve individual and collective practice
  • engages in systematic, evidence-informed professional inquiry to improve outcomes for students.

Professional learning opportunities:

  • integrate theory and practice  
  • engage, and if necessary, challenge teachers’ prior beliefs
  • promote cultural and linguistic responsiveness  
  • encourage teachers to individually and collectively take responsibility for their own professional learning and improvement
  • deepen understanding of the curriculum and of pedagogical and assessment practices that promote conceptual understanding and learning-to-learn capabilities
  • develop teacher knowledge and adaptive expertise using context-specific approaches that are informed by research
  • provide multiple opportunities to learn and apply new knowledge, and to process it with others
  • enable teachers to activate educationally powerful connections.
Organisational structures, processes and practices enable and sustain collaborative learning and decision making

Clear plans for improvement incorporate multiple professional learning opportunities and monitoring of anticipated changes in teacher practice and student outcomes.

Leaders provide for deep learning by focusing on one or two areas until substantial gains in outcomes are achieved. Leaders and teachers:

  • use evidence of student learning and progress as a catalyst for professional dialogue
  • participate in regular, purposeful classroom visits and observations and provide formative feedback
  • engage in open-to-learning conversations as they identify and investigate problems of practice, set goals and develop evidence-based solutions, asking themselves what works (practical insight) and why (theory)
  • work collaboratively to plan curriculum, design tasks and activities, and assess and evaluate
  • develop and share resources, materials and smart tools
  • monitor and evaluate the impact of actions on student outcomes.

Relationships characterised by mutual respect and challenge, support development of self-efficacy and agency.

Leaders and teachers seek evidence about the effectiveness of professional learning processes in terms of teacher practice and student outcomes.

Professional leaders and teachers engage with and contribute to the wider education community.

Access to relevant expertise builds capability for ongoing improvement and innovation

Leaders of learning are identified and a strategy is put in place to build internal professional leadership capacity.

Distributed leadership supports continuity and coherence across learning programmes and enhances sustainability.

Facilitators with relevant expertise provide opportunities for professional learning in response to identified needs, challenging teachers and supporting realisation of the school’s vision, values, goals and targets.

Domain 6: Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for improvement and innovation 

Evaluation, including professional inquiry, enables the creation and sharing of new knowledge and understandings about what works and makes a bigger difference for all learners. 

Evaluation involves making a judgment about the quality, effectiveness or value of a policy, programme or practice in terms of its contribution to the desired outcomes. It involves systematically posing questions, gathering evidence, and making sense of this evidence: ‘what is and is not working and for whom?’ By enabling us to describe and understand the impacts of our current practices, evaluation also highlights the implications for equity and excellence and provides a basis for determining actions for improvement.

Professional inquiry is an integral part of the evaluation process. It involves identifying an aspect of practice that is cause for concern, asking the right questions, and then seeking evidence and information to be able to better understand the issues involved and respond effectively.

The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa both describe teaching as a process of inquiry and emphasise the importance of leaders and teachers developing the expertise to inquire into their practice, evaluate its impact on student outcomes, and build organisational and system knowledge about what works.52

A learning community’s capacity to engage with, learn through, and use external evaluation, depends on its capacity to ‘do and use’ internal evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for improvement and innovation.53 

The organisational conditions that support this capacity include:

  • evaluation leadership
  • a learning-oriented community of professionals that takes agency in using evaluation for improvement in practice and outcomes
  • opportunity to develop technical evaluation expertise (including access to external expertise)
  • access to, and use of, appropriate tools and methods
  • systems, processes and resources that support purposeful data gathering, knowledge building and decision making.

In effective schools, evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building processes are purposeful and focus on a specific area for improvement.54 They work together coherently, enabling the use of relevant information at student, classroom, teacher and school levels to promote improvement.

Domain 6: Indicators and examples of effective practice

Evaluation indicators

Effective practice

Coherent organisational conditions promote evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building

Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building are embedded in the policies, systems, processes and practices that collectively express how the school plans for, and takes action to, realise its vision, values, goals and targets.

Appropriate tools and methods are used to gather, store and retrieve a range of valid data.

Leaders and teachers recognise the importance of student and community voice and use it as a key resource when deciding priorities for inquiry and improvement.

Relational trust at every level supports collaboration, risk taking and openness to change.

Sufficient resources (for example, time, expertise and staffing) are allocated to support improvement initiatives.

Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building processes are systematic, coherent and ‘smart’ at every level (student, teacher, school) and across levels.

Effective communication supports the sharing and dissemination of new knowledge in ways that promote improvement and innovation.

Collective capacity to do and use evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building sustains improvement and innovation

Opportunities for professional learning, mentoring and coaching develop the knowledge, skills and confidence required for evaluation and inquiry.

Relevant internal and/or external expertise is carefully selected and used to build capacity in evaluation and inquiry.

Leaders and teachers are data literate: posing focused questions, using relevant data, clarifying purpose(s), recognising sound and  unsound evidence, developing understanding of statistical and measurement concepts, and engaging in thoughtful interpretation and evidence-informed conversations.55

Generation of solutions, decision making, and strategy implementation all draw on research evidence about how to most effectively improve outcomes for learners.

Participation in evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building activities contributes to changes in thinking and behaviour and builds inquiry habits of mind.

Engaging in evidence-based decision making increases teacher efficacy and agency.

Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building capability facilitates engagement with external evaluation and the wider education community

Leaders and teachers engage with, learn through and use external evaluation as a resource for improvement and innovation.

Leaders and teachers participate in, contribute to and lead purposeful evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building in professional learning communities that include a range of educators from other schools/contexts.

 This photo is of a school girl jumping through hoops on the ground