Monitoring and evaluating curriculum implementation:
Final evaluation report on the implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum 2008-2009
This report presents findings from a national evaluation of the implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum. The project sought to establish a national picture of implementation progress in English-medium schools in the first two years following the curriculum's launch in November 2007.
Author(s): Dr Claire Sinnema, The University of Auckland. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.
Date Published: March 2011
This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box). To view the individual chapters please refer to the 'Sections' inset box.
Section 7: Findings: Relationships between Support, Receptivity and Practice
What explains curriculum implementation progress?
To inform the question about what explains the degree of progress in curriculum implementation, a series of stepwise linear regressions were carried out, examining the relationship between the support, receptivity and practice variables. Regression is used to test the effects of independent (predictor) variables on a single dependent (criterion) variable. For the purposes of these regressions the multiple practice variables (as reported in the group comparisons section) were substituted for a single practice scale (α= 0.92) that incorporated all 23 practice items, and was the dependent variable in the first regression.
What predicts practice?
When practice was taken as the dependent variable, confidence (b = 0. 134)1, support quantity: internal (b = 0. 119), support quantity: external (b = 0. 105), support quality (b = 0. 051), and regard (b = 0. 053), collectively accounted for 26% of the variance in practice. Using a 2-factor model (since the effects of regard, support quantity: external and support quality were so small), confidence (b = 0.199) accounted for 16%, and internal support quantity (b = 0. 199) for a further 6% of the combined 22% variance in practice (see Figure 41).
Figure 41: Regression summary: Practice as dependent variable
Teachers' accounts of shifting their practice also referred to the role of confidence, and in particular to the relationship between curriculum language and confidence:
I think confidence is often related to language. I can remember the first time we saw the pedagogy [section] in a staff meeting...it was a word that people weren't familiar with and comfortable with using. And I think that within the document itself, as new ideas are introduced, becomes necessary for teachers to change the language that they're using for discussion and that's a part of the confidence too. When you can use the evidence and you can speak the speak, it helps you with the confidence in terms of delivering that particular part of the curriculum. (DP Secondary focus group)
Many teachers, particularly those from the secondary sector whose programmes were previously determined largely by prescriptive syllabi, explained the impact of reduced prescription (the automatic consequence of the new curriculum's increased flexibility) on teacher confidence:
It sort of destabilises. People don't feel confident that they know exactly what they're going to be doing, and I think that's the issue...we don't know what we're going to be doing. We heard that year 11 were going to not teach micro-organisms and we're going to put something else there, but what's going to go there? At the moment there's a big question mark, so it's specifics. I think teachers like to deal with nuts and bolts and certainly in Science [to know] exactly, down to the lesson, what you're going to be doing. I looked at this curriculum and thought, yeah great aspirational statements and things, but it's how to get from A to B and to the day-to-day running that is quite scary. (Secondary Science focus group)
What predicts confidence?
Given that confidence was, of the variables considered here, the most predictive of practice; it was deemed appropriate to treat the confidence factor as the dependent variable in the next linear regression to examine predictors of confidence. When confidence was taken as the dependent variable, regard (b = 0. 582) accounted for 46% of the variance in confidence, and support quality (b = 0. 105) accounted for the additional percentage in the total 47% of the variance predicting confidence (see Figure 42). The factors for support quantity, both internal and external, were not shown in the model as predictors of confidence.
Figure 42: Regression summary: Confidence as dependent variable
The relationship between regard and confidence was also evident in the qualitative data as can be seen in the following comment that progresses from praise for the curriculum itself, to confidence in making change:
We are at an exciting time in our history with education. I am so motivated and enlightened with the pathway put forward with the New Zealand Curriculum and feel confident and passionate about the change that is happening. (Web09)
What predicts regard?
Given that regard was, of the variables considered here, the most predictive of practice; it was deemed appropriate to treat regard as the dependent variable in the next linear regression to explain what predicts regard. When regard was taken as the dependent variable, support quality (b = 0.404) accounted for 24% of the variance in regard, and internal support encounters (b = 0.203) accounted for the additional 2% in the total 26% of the variance predicting regard (see Figure 43).
Figure 43: Regression summary: Regard as dependent variable
When the findings from the series of linear regressions are considered together, a picture emerges of important influences on key aspects of implementation. Findings from all of the regression analyses are summarised in Figure 44.
Figure 44: Regression summary: Predictors in curriculum implementation
This suggests that support (both quantity and quality), unsurprisingly, does not have a direct and certain relationship with shifts in practices that reflect The New Zealand Curriculum. Rather, high quality support functions to improve the regard educators have for the curriculum, in ways that increase their confidence, which in turn contributes to their ability to give effect to the curriculum in their practice. It also shows the importance of regard—educators' recognition of, and commitment to, the policy they are responsible for implementing strongly predicts the extent to which that policy is ultimately enacted. It is important to note, that other potentially influential variables in the relationship between support quality and practice were beyond the scope of this research. The high ratings for regard of The New Zealand Curriculum indicated by participants in this research are positive and key to successful implementation, but educators need more than just high regard in order to give effect to the curriculum as it was intended. Deep understanding of the nature of the curriculum, how it differs from the previous one, and the kinds of approaches and strategies likely to support its implementation are required. Opportunities to strengthen these understandings and to inquire into practices intended to reflect the aspirations of the new curriculum mediate educators' regard for the new curriculum, and the teaching and learning that students ultimately experience.
- Unstandardised Beta Coefficients
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