Schools are still at varying stages of working with the National Standards. It is clear that schools that are well prepared to do so have high levels of professional leadership and robust self review. This includes effective use of high quality information about student progress and achievement.

This evaluation highlights what is helping school leaders and teachers to develop confidence in making overall teacher judgements and associated moderation. Schools are using existing cluster activities or setting up clusters with neighbouring or ‘like’ schools as opportunities to learn about moderation and/or engage in moderation discussions. The impact of such activity is worthy of further investigation. Schools need help with improving the analysis and use of achievement information to make valid and reliable judgements about student progress and achievement. Isolation, staff turnover and access to relevant PLD are some of the barriers to building confidence with moderation.

To successfully report to parents and whānau about their child’s progress and achievement against the National Standards, schools need to work in partnership with their community. The findings of this evaluation highlight the value of schools trialling and refining report formats and seeking feedback from parents and students about the usefulness and relevance of what is reported.

Schools that were well advanced in preparing to set specific targets based on good quality achievement information were often doing so because of their involvement in PLD and a commitment by teachers and school leaders to ongoing improvement. This is an area where some schools need help to ensure targets are responsive to their achievement information, so they can particularly target those students below or well below the relevant standards.

Schools continue to use external support to help school leaders and teachers work with the standards in a variety of ways. It is important that information about the National Standards is accessible to all groups – school leaders, teachers, trustees, parents and students and that the messages conveyed are consistent.

Those providing external support need to be knowledgeable about the standards and how schools might work with them in the context of each school’s curriculum. Increasing trustees’ understanding of the standards and what they mean in terms of governance responsibilities is crucial as boards set targets in their 2011 charters, plan to meet these targets and report on the outcomes in their 2012 annual reports.

ERO is continuing to evaluate how schools use the National Standards as an integral part of their ongoing self review of curriculum development, assessment practice and strategic planning. In Terms 1, 2 and 3, 2011 ERO will continue to focus on how schools report to parents and the impact of target setting and associated action planning on improving student achievement, particularly for those who need support to achieve appropriate standards in reading, writing and mathematics.