Appendix 5: ERO's literature review of risk factors to Year 9 school success

In May 2016, ERO completed a literature review (see below) of the risk factors likely to be important in Year 9 Plus outcomes in 2016, using a social investment approach. We did this as background for the student voice interviews we undertook later that month.

The highest risk factors found in the review to be significant to later educational success after Year 8 in schooling are in Figure 17.

Figure 17: Risk Factors to Year 9 student engagement and achievement

Family background
  • Household in a low SES location
  • Primary caregiver with no qualifications
  • Main income of household from a benefit
  • Family with history of CYF or Justice involvement
Early education
  • Poor oral language/vocabulary development before age 3
  • Preschool health issues, especially around speech and hearing
  • Poor school attendance, getting worse in middle and senior years of primary schooling
  • Transience during primary schooling- attending more than 5 pre-secondary schools
Transition to Year 9
  • Sole child from a small school or eldest sibling to attend the new secondary school
  • High anxiety/low self-esteem personality
  • Academic difficulty in primary school with maths or science
  • Males of a minority ethnicity group in the new school
Engagement in Year 9
  • Peer issues or problems with bullying
  • No strong relationship with any individual teacher
  • Teaching seen as ‘boring’ or ‘too academic’
  • Early patterns of truancy or stand-down.


















ERO's literature review indicates the level of engagement in Years 7 and 8 has a key influence on ease of transition to secondary school and success in Year 9. Such data may be available through primary schools and could provide a more robust assessment of level of risk of underachieving or dropping out for each nominated individual.


Family Background

New Zealand Government, (2016). Youth At Risk: Identifying a target population ages 15-24. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand.

McLeod, K., Templeton, R., Ball, C., Tumen, S., Crichton, S. and Dixon, S. (2015). Using Integrated Administrative Data to Identify Youth Who Are At Risk of Poor Outcomes As Adults. Wellington: Treasury Analytical Paper 15/02.

Early Education

Early Childhood Education (ECE) Taskforce (2011). An Agenda for Amazing Children. Final Report of the ECE Taskforce. Wellington: the ECE Taskforce.

Maclagan, M. and Buckley, A. (2016). Talking Baby: Helping your child discover language. Sydney: Finch.

Wylie, C. (2012). Vital Connections: Why we need more than self-managing schools. Wellington: NZCER.

Transition from Year 8 to Year 9

Maguire, B. and Yu, M. (2014). Transition to Secondary School. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Welsh Government (2011). Investigating the Drop off in Attainment during the Transition Phase: A rapid evidence assessment. Cardiff: Social Research Division.

Engagement in Year 9 and/or Middle Schooling

Gibbs, R. and Poskitt, J. (2010). Student Engagement in the Middle Years of Schooling. A Literature Review. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Macfarlane, A. (2015). The Experience of Maori Students in the Middle Years. In 'Big Fish, Little Fish'. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Risk Factors in Adolescence

Brooking, K., Gardiner, B. and Calvert, S. (2008). Background of Students in Alternative Education- A report prepared for the Ministry of Education. Wellington: NZCER.

Sanders, J., Munford, R., Thimasarn-Anwar, T. (2016). Staying on Track Despite the Odds: Factors that assist young people facing adversity to continue with their education. British Educational Research Journal. 42,(1), February 2016: 56-73.

Longitudinal Studies in Social Psychology, Education and Health

Wylie, C. (2011). Competent Learners at Twenty: Summary of key findings. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Poulton, R., Moffit, T. and Silva, P. (2015). The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study: Overview of the first 40 years, with an eye to the future. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 2015; 50(5): 679-693.