He Whakaaro: Accounting for educational disadvantage
This He Whakaaro introduces insights into the level of socio-economic disadvantage across New Zealand’s schools. It is based on the first iteration of the Equity Index - an emerging methodology the Ministry of Education is developing for identifying individual barriers to educational success.
Author(s): Ministry of Education
Date Published: September 2019
The Equity Index is a new way of identifying disadvantage across schools in New Zealand. At its core, it is a statistical model which models the relationship between a measure of educational success (NCEA Level 2), and socio-economic background and circumstances.
Within this paper, we explain how we have identified those students whose combined personal circumstances present the largest barrier to educational success. We refer to the 25% of students nationally with the largest barriers as ‘disadvantaged’. The ‘Equity Index’ for each school is then the proportion of their students who are disadvantaged.
We present insights into the distribution of individual disadvantage within schools, and compare the Equity Index with school deciles – our current instrument for identifying the level of disadvantage within a school.
In short, the key messages are that:
- Disadvantage exists everywhere across New Zealand, but is spread unevenly across our schools;
- Deciles are a blunt instrument for identifying the level of disadvantage in a school. Across the schools in any given decile, we see large variation in the proportion of their students who are disadvantaged;
These results are from the first iteration of the Equity Index methodology, which is being refined to improve its reliability and comprehensiveness.
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