Outcomes for teachers and students in the ICTPD School Clusters Programme 2005-2007: A national overview

Publication Details

This report focuses on the effectiveness of the 2005-2007 Information and Communication Technologies Professional Development (ICT PD) School Clusters programmes and supplements previous evaluations of the first five ICT PD programmes. It is part of an ongoing evaluation of the ICT PD teacher professional development initiative, which has been implemented in New Zealand since 1999.

Author(s): Vince Ham, CORE Education. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.

Date Published: July 2009

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Section 1: Introduction

This report is on the effectiveness of the 2005-2007 cohort of ICT PD School Clusters and supplements previous evaluations of the first five ICT PD School Clusters Programmes submitted to the Ministry in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The report is submitted to the Ministry of Education as part of an ongoing evaluation of the Information and Communication Technologies Professional Development (ICT PD) teacher professional development initiative. The ICT PD initiative was first announced in the strategy document Interactive Education: An Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for Schools (Ministry of Education, 1998), and has been a feature of subsequent policy implementations as outlined in Digital Horizons: Learning Through ICT: A Strategy for Schools (Ministry of Education, 2001, Revised 2003), and more recently in Enabling the 21st Century Learner: An e-Learning Action Plan  for Schools 2006-2010 (Ministry of Education 2006). It is the latter of these documents (The e-Learning Action Plan) that most directly provides the policy background for the implementation of the particular ICT PD cluster programme that is the subject of this report – the ‘2005-2007 cohort’.

It should be noted that ICT PD cohorts operate their programmes in cluster schools over a period of three years, and that the contents of the report speak specifically to the effectiveness of the professional development programmes over the full three-year period from 2005-2007. The final section in the report compares the results for this cohort with those of previous cohorts and comments on the respects in which national outcome trends in the overall ICT PD initiative since 1999 have, or have not, been maintained over time.

As outlined in the performance agreements between the Ministry and the ICT PD clusters, the ICT PD School Cluster programmes in New Zealand are aimed at increasing teachers’ ICT confidence, skills and pedagogical understandings of ICTs, fostering quality learning communities, and increasing the frequency and quality of the integration of ICTs to facilitate improvements in students’ learning, engagement and achievement. 

The research reported here takes these performance criteria as its starting point to provide a national overview of the programme’s impact on teachers, teaching and classroom learning, by means of an analysis of the results of a  post-hoc survey of c.1250 participating teachers.

The 2005-2007 ICT PD School Clusters Programme in the National Strategy for ICT in Schools

In 1998 a national ‘ICT Strategy for Schools’ was announced which established a new, ‘national’ system of funded professional development school clusters. This programme has become known as the ICT PD School Clusters programme. The main features of the cluster programme, which has become an ongoing feature of the teacher professional development landscape in New Zealand since 1999, are:

  • The bulk of the programme funding is devolved directly to schools as both ‘producers and consumers’ of their own PD programmes.
  • The programmes are only available to groups of schools, which have committed to a ‘clustered’ model of professional development for the benefit of teachers in all the participating schools.
  • The programmes are funded over three years, for programmes that are to last for three years.
  • No particular delivery model is mandated. Within very broad parameters, applicants for ICT PD cluster funds are expected to develop and propose their own models of delivery, rather than to implement a predetermined, Ministry-approved, model.
  • There is central coordination of the programmes through the Ministry of Education itself and a team of contracted National Facilitators who provide professional development support, advice and coordination to the clusters as a national community.

The basic framework of the ICT PD cluster programmes is centrally prescribed. The programmes are to focus on the integration of ICTs into a variety of teachers’ professional practices. A ‘Lead School’, often, but not necessarily, one with a reputation for best practice in the area of ICT use, forms a collaborative partnership with other schools for the provision of up to three years of teacher professional development in those schools. Each cluster receives c.$120,000 per annum in central funding. These funds are to be spent on teacher professional development, and may not be used to defray schools’ hardware, software or infrastructure costs. Beyond that common brief, however, schools are free to group themselves as they wish, and are encouraged to develop and propose their own models and modes of delivering their programmes.

Early in 1999, 23 such ICT PD School Clusters in various parts of the country were selected as the first cohort under the scheme, finishing their three year round of development in 2001. The government decided to continue the programmes on a rolling basis from 2001 onwards. The cohort which is the subject of this report was thus the sixth intake or ‘cohort’ of clusters. They began their programmes in January 2005 and completed at the end of 2007. This report on the 2005 cohort of ICT PD cluster teachers thus stands as a separate report on the effectiveness of 2005-2007 programme, but it also supplements and updates reports on previous ICT PD School Cluster Programmes submitted to the Ministry from 2002 to 2007.

Programme goals

The ICT PD School Cluster programmes in New Zealand have been generally aimed at increasing teachers’ ICT skills and pedagogical understandings around ICTs, at increasing the frequency and quality of the use of ICTs in schools to support classroom teaching and student learning.

These broad goals were rearticulated as a number of specific performance measures and expected outcomes included in the various cluster cohort contracts. The specific statements of these goals changed during the course of the three years of the programme reported here, although the general tenor of them has remained the same across successive cohorts. The goals formally identified for the 2005 cohort programmes were that:

  • Teachers’ confidence and skills in using ICTs increase
  • Instances of ICT use integrated into pedagogical practice across the curriculum increase
  • Teachers improve their understandings of the roles of ICTs in supporting teaching and learning
  • Professional learning communities around and through the use of ICTs in schools are fostered and strengthened
  • ICTs are used to enable quality learning experiences in classrooms that are focused on student learning, engagement and achievement.

Structure of the Report

The research on the 2005-7 cluster programme provides a national overview of the programme’s impact on teachers, teaching and learning in New Zealand, through an analysis of the results of a pre-post survey study of teachers from all clusters. The report begins with an analysis of the relative impacts of the 2005-7 programme over time in terms of the key performance goals of the programme listed. For convenience we group these goals and impacts into three main areas, each of which is reported as a separate section:

  • The effects of the PD programmes on teachers themselves, as indicated by the reported effects on teacher skills, confidence, and understandings in relation to ICTs in teaching and learning.
  • The effects of the PD programmes on usage of ICTs by students, as indicated by teacher reported rates of classroom usage, curriculum coverage, and the provision of ‘quality learning experiences’.
  • The provision of appropriate advice, PD and support by the various cluster programmes, as indicated by reported levels of participant satisfaction with the programmes and levels of teacher goal achievement.

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