He Whakaaro: How does school type impact on student outcomes?

Publication Details

The question of what structure of schooling works best for students in the middle years is the subject of debate, but has been less studied by researchers. This report aims to find whether some school types are better or worse for student outcomes than others, and investigates the role that structural transitions (at the beginning of Year 7 and Year 9) play in affecting student outcomes. The report improves upon some limitations of previous analyses by adjusting for differences in student characteristics and for student movements that are not just between levels of schooling so that they can be ruled out as a reason for differences in student outcomes in intermediate schools.

Author(s): Marian Loader and Andrew Webber, Evidence, Data and Knowledge, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: March 2020

Key Findings

The report finds:

  • There were not educationally meaningful differences - either positive or negative - between intermediate schools and other school types in terms of student outcomes.
  • Secondary and composite schools were associated with slightly higher NCEA attainment and performance than intermediate schools.
  • Full primary and middle schools were associated with slightly lower NCEA attainment than intermediate schools (but only at Level 3 NCEA).
  • The effects of school type on attendance in Year 8 were generally the opposite of the effects on NCEA attainment and performance.
  • Some of the small differences between school types appear to be explained by intermediate schools requiring more structural moves than full primary, secondary, or composite schools.
  • But there are also differences between school types that are left over after adjusting for structural moves. Some of these differences slightly benefit intermediate schools over other types of schools. We don’t have the data to determine what might be causing these differences.
  • While this study is the first of its kind, it is limited because we do not have data on the abilities of students before the middle years, so cannot directly measure learning progress.

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