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

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.

‘‘Ed­u­ca­tional

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.’’

Photo: ROSE CAW­LEY

One­hunga High School prin­ci­pal Dei­dre Shea says Starpath has been fun­da­men­tal to lift­ing stu­dent achieve­ment.

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