Whaia te iti Kahurangi: NZCER Evaluation

Publication Details

NZCER was contracted by the partners in Whaia te iti Kahurangi (Te Runanga o Ngati Porou and the Ministry of Education) to undertake a formative evaluation of the initiative. Whaia te iti Kahurangi (WTIK) is aimed at improving student achievement in Ngati Porou East Coast schools. The evaluation found that significant progress had been made.

Author(s): Cathy Wylie and Vyletta Arago-Kemp

Date Published: 2004

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Executive Summary

Whaia te iti Kahurangi stems from the first iwi-Ministry of Education partnership, with Te Runanga o Ngāti Porou. Whaia te iti Kahurangi began in 1998 with the contracting of Gardiner Parata Ltd to provide a framework for change management, to address the issues raised by ERO in its 1997 report on the quality of education received by Ngāti Porou East Coast students. They organised community consultations about the future of education in Ngāti Porou and East Coast communities, and its role in the future of Ngāti Porou. These consultations led to a strategic plan at the end of 1998. In 1999, the initiatives began, with the main focus on governance and management frameworks and systems. Professional development became a major focus in 2000 and the introduction of ICT equipment and training in 2001.

NZCER was contracted by the partners in Whaia te iti Kahurangi to undertake formative evaluation of the progress and impact of the initiatives, which was to inform their ongoing development. The initiatives are not seen by the partners as a finite programme, but as a living framework for change.

This is the final of five reports made since 2001. It provides a summary of the first four reports, and the 2003 report on student achievement.

It then describes school practices and school staff, trustee, and student perspectives as they were in term 2, 2003, since the main focus of the first five years of Whaia te iti Kahurangi has been on the improvement of the Ngāti Porou East Coast schools. It also provides information about the role of Whaia te iti Kahurangi, with information and perspectives from Education Team members and the two partners. It identifies the progress made to date, and the current challenges for Whaia te iti Kahurangi as those involved decide its course over the next five years.

Summary of findings from previous NZCER reports

Views of Whaia te iti Kahurangi & signs of initial progress in mid 2001

There was general agreement that Whaia te iti Kahurangi is aimed at improving student achievement levels, student engagement in learning, and incorporating Ngāti Porou kaupapa and language into the curriculum taught in Ngāti Porou/East Coast schools. Beyond this common core, there were some different emphases. Key Ngāti Porou and Ministry of Education people involved in Whaia te iti Kahurangi emphasised the role of their partnership, stronger community-school relationships, and key Ngāti Porou people saw the importance of the long-term raising of aspirations, a renewal of the central role of education for Ngāti Porou, and a strengthening and development of Ngāti Porou. People in schools were more likely to emphasise the strengthening of schools as an aim of Whaia te iti Kahurangi, particularly through their own experiences of professional development. Some also saw it as a strategic plan which could alter the number and nature of Ngāti Porou/East Coast schools.

In mid-2001, views of Whaia te iti Kahurangi were mostly positive or neutral. People in schools particularly appreciated the increase in professional development, support, and resources, including ICT access. Although there was recognition that the 1997 ERO report on the quality of schools on the East Coast had led, through the pro-active responses of Ngāti Porou and the Ministry of Education, to something positive, the pain associated with this report and the public manner of its release remained. There were also some concerns about the initial phase of Whaia te iti Kahurangi, which focused on governance and management, and invited schools to cluster through combined boards or mergers, in what seemed too short a time frame. Two combined boards and three mergers resulted. Most schools remained on their own.

Signs of Initial Progress

In mid 2001, around 84 percent of the students in Ngāti Porou/East Coast schools were in schools which were in the regular ERO review cycle, compared with 36 percent in 1997. Regular visitors to the schools observed a growing confidence in staff and students.

Teacher turnover had decreased, and there were fewer unlicensed or beginning teachers, and fewer first-time principals. Principals reported greater involvement of whänau to some extent in literacy and numeracy, and more access to expertise in assessment in literacy, numeracy and science. Principals and teachers reported more inter-school contact, and the Waiapu Principals' Association had returned to being a forum for information, views, and support. Education had returned to being an everyday topic of conversation among Ngāti Porou.

Key Contributors to Progress

Among the main contributors to the progress made so far were:

  • The partnership between Te Runanga o Ngāti Porou and Ministry of Education;
  • Increased professional development and support;
  • having a locally-based Education Team;
  • better access to ICT, including laptops for principals and many teachers; and
  • more inter-school contact.

Future progress was seen to depend on a wide range of factors, including:

  • The quality of the people involved – in schools, the Whaia te iti Kahurangi Education Team; the people in Te Runanga o Ngāti Porou and the Ministry of Education, and hapu leaders;
  • The capacity of people involved, with concern expressed about high workloads for some;
  • Ability to share resources and expertise;
  • Continued professional development and support, including a local Whaia te iti Kahurangi Education Team, and improvements in ICT access and reliability;
  • Two-way communication between schools and the Whaia te iti Kahurangi team;
  • The development of the Ngāti Porou curriculum guidelines, and the greater use of te reo o Ngāti Porou;
  • The alignment of other social policy initiatives with Whaia te iti Kahurangi;
  • The continuation of the partnership between Te Runanga o Ngāti Porou and the Ministry of Education;
  • The involvement of communities and whänau in learning and support for learning; and
  • Evidence of improvement in student learning.

The picture in schools at the end of 2001

Whaia te iti Kahurangi gave people in schools greater knowledge, and useful tools

Boards generally had a good understanding of their role, good systems in place, including strategic planning, and good relations with principals and school staff. Principals and teachers had gained from the emphasis on professional development, particularly the Literacy Leadership, Early Numeracy Programme (ENP), the ICT training which is part of Te Rangitawaea, Whakapiki Reo Ngāti Porou, and the principal partnerships, funded by Whaia te iti Kahurangi. They were also using their links with advisors and schools in other parts of the country to inform their decisions about approaches and programmes to improve student learning. There was keen interest in improving student learning and achievement.

Te Rangitawaea brought improved connections with others, within Ngāti Porou East Coast, and beyond. It helped streamline administration, allowed the sharing of ideas, advice, and resources, and engaged students in learning, making the most of ICT's visual strengths. Sixty-two percent of principals and teachers reported that teachers were making good use of computers in their classrooms, and 83 percent of the students said they used computers at school. Fifty-nine percent of the students were also using a computer at home. But the Ngāti Porou East Coast schools had varied access to ICT, experienced some frustrations with delivery and maintenance of equipment, and were also concerned with the long-term costs.

An evident emphasis on Ngāti Porou knowledge and identity in schools

Just over half the students surveyed thought that they learnt about being Ngāti Porou and about their hapu at school most of the time. Many schools used local knowledge and resources in their class programmes and organised activities with kaumatua and kuia so that students had a living understanding of their hapu, knowledge of whakapapa, and gained knowledge and skills through seasonal food gathering activities. Almost all the principals would like to see a Ngāti Porou 'resource bank' to allow them to incorporate more Ngāti Porou centred activities into their teaching programmes. There were good links between Ngāti Porou East Coast schools and their communities, with communities using school facilities, and schools taking part in local marae and community activities.

Main challenges seen by principals, teachers and trustees in the Ngāti Porou East Coast schools:

The improvement of student achievement

English-medium students performed well on some of the Ngāti Porou East Coast set of maths and English ARB items used in mid 2001, and the year 8 students' writing matched the curriculum levels for their year. But on the whole, students in the years tested (5, 8, and 9) were achieving below the national level. Year 5 students' achievement was relatively better than Year 8 or 9 in reading. Initial secondary exam results achieved by wharekura students were high. However, more English-medium Ngāti Porou East Coast secondary students left school without a qualification than their peers in the same decile schools nationwide. The student surveys indicated that engaging all students in learning was still a challenge for Ngāti Porou East Coast teachers.

A greater use of te reo o Ngāti Porou

Sixty-two percent of the principals and teachers thought there was more use of te reo o Ngāti Porou in their school over the last two years. A quarter of the students spoke te reo Mäori most of the time at school, and 45 percent sometimes. This pattern was much the same for students in their homes. Around a third of the students spoke little or no te reo Mäori.

Shifts in school rolls

There had been an overall drop in student numbers in Ngāti Porou East Coast schools. In 2000, the number of students attending Ngāti Porou East Coast schools was 1392. In 2001, it was 1274. The loss was most noticeable at the secondary level. Whänau preferences were also leading to some changes in school rolls, and some volatility.

Student achievement in mid 2002 and mid 2003

Year 2 and Year 4 2002 students' results on the Burt word reading tests showed that their average score is consistent with the national average score for students at their year level. There were a fair proportion of high performers in reading and listening, and very few low performers in listening. Writing performance for the 2002 years 5 and 9 was higher than their 2001 counterparts. Interestingly, Ngāti Porou East Coast students scored more highly than their peers elsewhere on some tasks that were rated as difficult. However, average levels of performance in mathematics, reading and writing were below the national average for years 5, 8, and 9.

In 2003, the year 2 Burt word reading scores were higher than the national average, and the year 4 scores were consistent with the national average. Writing performance improved substantially between 2001 and 2003. Mathematics performance in year 9 shows some signs of improvement, and there were signs that there was an increase in high scorers for mathematics at year 5.

The trend for the Ngāti Porou East Coast students to score more highly than the national level for some difficult test items continued in 2003. However, so did the trend for average scores at years 5, 8, and 9 to be somewhat below the national level. This is likely to reflect the socio-economic context for many Ngāti Porou East Coast students. In terms of using trends in achievement as measured by these tests, it is important to remember that shifts in student achievement are rarely instant, and are often incremental rather than dramatic. At least half the achievement data is still from students who have had most of their education before Whaia te iti Kahurangi started. Most of the early emphasis in Whaia te iti Kahurangi was on governance and management, and setting up systems. Professional development and collaboration between teachers which teachers and principals felt was making a difference to their practice occurred from 2000. Much of this was concentrated on the early years of school, rather than the years included in these tests.Secondary level provision

There were particular strengths in the engagement and achievement of students in Te Kura Kaupapa Mäori o te Waiu o Ngāti Porou, in the use of STAR funding for senior secondary students in Tolaga Bay Area School, and in some cross-curricular provision offered by Te Waha o Rerekohu Area School. Student behaviour was not a deep issue, and had improved in recent years. There is more use of local Ngāti Porou counsellors and social workers who took preventative, low-key approaches, and were able to work with whänau as well as students. Student attendance was an issue for the three English-medium schools, and transience an issue for one of these. The main issues were:

  • low student qualification levels in the English-medium schools;
  • the need to engage students more effectively;
  • low staff and student numbers;
  • lack of some curriculum resources; and
  • insufficient access to skilled and knowledgeable teachers.

It is unlikely that continuing current approaches to secondary provision will achieve much substantial change, and improve student learning. All New Zealand secondary schools are facing more complexity, with changes in qualifications, student needs and interest, and ways of meeting those needs. Compared to secondary schools in city areas, which are larger, with few teachers working on their own in a subject area, and which can draw on a wide range of community resources (such as libraries, museums, workplaces), and which can more easily share courses or specialise with neighbouring schools, the Ngāti Porou East Coast schools face deep obstacles in providing students with the secondary education they need for successful participation in work and society.

However, we found a readiness for change, a desire to build on current strengths, a desire to share teachers, classes, knowledge, and resources, where that is practical, and a readiness to use external providers to meet student needs which cannot be met within school staffing, where the external providers can offer quality and qualifications. This interest in change needs to be supported by Whaia te iti Kahurangi and the partners in Whaia te iti Kahurangi, since all schools are affected, and none can on their own take responsibility for change in all four schools.

Footnotes

  1. These findings are from NZCER's 1 st report, August 2001.
  2. The findings and recommendations reported below come from NZCER's second report, in February 2002.
  3. This summary is taken from NZCER's third report, in October 2002, and the 2003 report on student achievement.
  4. These findings are from NZCER's fourth report, October 2002.

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