Path to school’s success
Not all children are equal in New Zealand schools. An OECD report released in June highlights the inequality in our education system. The report recommends using data to close the gap. Rose Cawley talked to those already using an evidence based approach t
EVERY student in the school is tracked. Attendance data, attitudinal data, achievement data, behavioural data – all of it is monitored to see if a student could be at risk of failing and if so where intervention is needed before it is too late.
A number of low decile secondary schools are using this approach as part of the University of Auckland’s Starpath Project which aims to increase tertiary participation for Maori and Pacific students.
Director Cindy Kiro says children from disadvantaged backgrounds have considerably worse education outcomes and the influence of poverty is growing.
But data driven action can save these children, she says.
inequality should be extremely concerning for all New Zealanders. We all will pay the price if we don’t improve what is happening currently.’’
Onehunga High School principal Deidre Shea says there are 39 schools involved and they were the last to jump on the research project.
They tested the waters with the entire year 11 cohort in 2013 and quickly decided to bring in the whole school the following year.
‘‘Our results in 2014 are better than ever in every measure and they will be better again this year. That makes a pretty compelling case.’’
Shea says that is the typical achievement turnaround of a Starpath school.
Senior Starpath analyst Earl Irving says the programme has drastically changed how schools approach individual student tracking and studentteacher conferences.
Rather than parents coming in for five to 10 minute discussions with subject teachers, parents now speak to just one teacher who oversees the student.
This teacher will know the student’s overall direction in NCEA, their career choices, the structure of what they choose in terms of their subjects and the next steps in their learning.
Irving says changing the model has increased parent involvement.
‘‘It is changing perceptions and expectations, and the expectation is that the youngsters can learn and that there is a supportive family whanau environment for them.’’
Onehunga High School principal Deidre Shea says Starpath has been fundamental to lifting student achievement.