185 schools in ERO’s worst performing category

The state of many New Zealand schools is substandard and failing many students according to a report from the New Zealand Initiative.

Jo Moir at Stuff reports Student achievement is improving in New Zealand but internationally Kiwis are slipping – report

School quality reports from the Education Review Office (ERO) reveal as of June last year 185 schools were in ERO’s worst performing category.

Of those schools, one-third were “persistent” poor performers and some had repeatedly failed students for at least a decade – spanning the entire schooling career of their students, says the New Zealand Initiative report.

That kind of underperformance wouldn’t be tolerated in other sectors but is “accepted in education”.

Lack of education is a major factor in many negative social outcomes, including health, crime, unemployment, parenting.

Very high illiteracy of prisoners shows that those who fail in schools are more likely to fail in society.

ERO has recently changed its approach from “asking about general performance to asking how primary schools are making sure that every single student is achieving at the level they need to”.

Poor performance has led to the Ministry of Education taking over all or some functions of 67 school boards – 51 per cent of the students affected are from schools made up of the poorest families.

Every three years New Zealand students sit the OECD’s PISA exams testing thousands of 15-year-olds on maths, science, reading skills and knowledge.

New Zealand’s position dropped from 7th place in reading, 7th in science and 13th in maths in 2009 to 13th, 18th and 23rd respectively in 2012.

On the other hand just this month Education Minister Hekia Parata congratulated students and schools on the “best-ever results in NCEA” – roll-based pass rates in level 1, 2 and 3 have all improved.

Teaching is a very demanding occupation.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary Lisa Rodgers said schools are supported to “resolve issues themselves” unless help is needed and the ministry steps in.

Data shows teacher turnover is increasing, and it is greater in lower decile schools, but again it isn’t recorded why teachers leave the profession and where they go.

The Education Council is the professional body for teachers and its professional services manager Pauline Barnes says it “cares about when teachers leave and why”.

“We will read the report in detail and then look at how we can respond.”

The ministry couldn’t provide a response on where or why teachers go because they “do not collect the data on the reasons why people move”.

“Because we want the best teachers teaching our students we are concerned about supply and also quality,” Rodgers said.

If they don’t know why teachers leave it makes it difficult to know how to try and prevent more teachers leaving.

Schools report: could do better. Must do better. The future success and well being of hundreds of thousands of children are at stake.