High performing low decile schools

May 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The secrets of some of the highest-performing lower decile schools have been unlocked in an attempt to address one of the biggest problems in New Zealand .

Seven schools that draw their students from relatively poor areas have been visited by the Education Review Office (ERO), in an effort to find out what they are doing well. …

A study of high-performing lower decile schools cited numerous reasons for their success. Here are some of them.

Trident High School, Whakatane, decile 5:

Induction for new staff includes a trip from Ruatoki to Whakatane, hosted at several marae en route. This enables staff to fully appreciate where many of the students come from.

Mt Roskill Grammar School, Auckland, decile 4:

Staff are encouraged to trial and use new practices, including “flipped classrooms” – where teachers use videos to pre-teach ideas before class, then use lessons for collaborative work and individual tutoring.

Otaki College, Kapiti, decile 4:

Phone calls from parents are returned with urgency, and responses to situations are rapid and often involve the community beyond the college.

Naenae College, Lower Hutt, decile 2:

Timetable changes include a 100 minute period every day – which means staff can be more flexible in teaching, and work more with students one-on-one.

Gisborne Boys’ High School, decile 3:

A Tu Tane programme helps boys develop with a strong sense of themselves and their place in the community. Based around celebrating manhood, it is run with support from Gisborne Police.

McAuley High School, Otahuhu, South Auckland, decile 1:

Considerable sums are raised to pay for uniforms, trips and lunches so girls from the most disadvantaged backgrounds can participate in school on an equal footing.

Opotiki College, decile 1:

A morning tea group of students identified as at-risk makes it more likely they will attend school, and is a time for staff to mentor them.

There’s nothing as good as sharing success – which is why the Government’s plans to pay the best teachers and principals more to share their success is an excellent idea.

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23 Responses to “High performing low decile schools”

  1. Rich Prick (1,725 comments) says:

    As I read that it struck me that sometimes it is the simple things that work best. Good on those teachers and principals.

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  2. doggone7 (825 comments) says:

    There have always been good news stories like this.

    It is election year and so we hear about them. A tide of good news about education will happen so Ms Parata can take the credit for all the marvellous news since she and Anne Tolley spent so much time telling us our education system was buggered.

    Well done to the people in the schools mentioned.

    Bah humbug to those who have focussed on areas needing improvement, ignored all the positives and successes, continually sought problems to highlight who now it’s election year suddenly start saying “There’s nothing as good as sharing success.”

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  3. Harriet (5,131 comments) says:

    “……There’s nothing as good as sharing success – which is why the Government’s plans to pay the best teachers and principals more to share their success is an excellent idea………”

    Why don’t national pay good suburban parents to share their success stories?

    Or do they think that parenting is less needed in society than school work?

    National should not take WFF away as it is a tax break and not a subsidy from other taxpayers. School age kids in their own homes benefit best from that.

    Vote for the Conservatives.

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  4. pidge (56 comments) says:

    My parents taught at Opotiki College in the late ’70s and early ’80s. At the time, the students were generally well behaved who responded well to firm guidance (and the occasional caning :| ), with a handful of well-known ratbags. A “small” community at the time, with a manual telephone exchange and party lines (one way to learn a letter of morse code), so no anonymous nasty phone calls to teachers.

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  5. peterwn (3,307 comments) says:

    And how many pupils do these schools kick out at the drop of a hat? At a guess proportionately far fewer than the likes of Palmerston North Boys’ High School. An expulsion / exclusion for inadequate reason and with little or no rehabilitation effort can cost the taxpayer a five-six figure sum all up. All this makes the best performing schools with significant numbers of disadvantaged pupils a fantastic deal for the taxpayer and the economy – so those involved deserve the pay/ funding to spread the ‘word’.

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  6. thedavincimode (6,873 comments) says:

    Seven schools that draw their students from relatively poor areas have been visited by the Education Review Office (ERO), in an effort to find out what they are doing well. …

    The inference to be drawn from that statement would have been quite the opposite in the years 1999 to 2008.

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  7. Odakyu-sen (749 comments) says:

    Poverty per se is not the problem.

    To hack a quote: “It’s not the colour of their money; it’s the colour of their attitude.” By that I mean the attitude of the students towards listening to the teacher and learning; their cognition of cause and effect, i.e., get qualifications and move up in the world; the attitude of their parents, i.e., attend school events and support the teachers… …the list goes on.

    If lack of money automatically means poor scholastic performance, how is it that children of refugees from Southeast Asian nations in the past (with enormous language challenges and parents initially lacking financial resources) have been able to excel? Why is it that maori children (with their extended families including iwi and network of established elders who have the potential to help them get ahead) have a tendency to flounder and be unable to capitalize on the education offered to them by the state?

    I recon it’s not a lack of money but the factors in the individual’s head (that conspire to keep them poor) which are responsible for poverty that are at the root cause.

    What would these factors be? I’ll start with what I call “the sense of cause and effect” or the ability to think about “what will happen if I do X”. What do the psychologists call this?

    Someone help me out. (Please.)

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  8. prosper (172 comments) says:

    ODAKYU-SAN. It’s called reasoning.

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  9. burt (8,316 comments) says:

    I think you have missed the most important thing in the entire school system. Union membership numbers and the amount of money and time that can be donated to campaigning for Labour. Has anyone considered this ?

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  10. Odakyu-sen (749 comments) says:

    What is the relationship between the ability to think abstractly and the ability to reason?
    How are these abilities related to poverty?
    What gives a child a higher ability to think abstractly and/or the ability to reason?

    Discussion?

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  11. SGA (1,142 comments) says:

    Odakyu-sen at 10:56 am

    Discussion?

    I’m not sure you are asking the right questions. If you look at the schools’ initiatives above, a number are more about encouraging the students (and their families) to engage with the school system (even to the point of turning up!). That’s probably the logical first step, I suppose.

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  12. burt (8,316 comments) says:

    In the best interest of keeping the Labour vote high we need to keep telling kids from lower socioeconomic families that they are doomed to fail and have no chance. If we let them think they can succeed they will and then they won’t vote for more welfare and higher taxes. There is a lot at stake here people – the future of the Labour party rests on holding people in poverty while pretending to help them.

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  13. wikiriwhis business (4,119 comments) says:

    I would think all these schools have cell towers beside them.

    A huge reason J Key doesn’t like talking where he sends his kids to school. No cell towers to irradiate

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  14. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    Farrar’s conclusion which is typical thinking from the right – pay more money to a few.

    Why? The article shows what can happen with simple co-operation etc – no extra money needed to get a turn around in those schools.

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  15. Rowan (2,525 comments) says:

    My old school GBHS is on this list, It would be interesting to see what they are doing well in as academically in the time I was there most boys would have left with the same amount of qualifications as they arrived with. It was a terrible ‘institution’ and the only educational learning I have gained started once leaving this s…hole! coincidentally the girls high school performed very well academically, not enough educational choice in Gizzy!

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  16. Ross12 (1,454 comments) says:

    The question then is MikeG why haven’t the other schools been turned around years ago , if it is so simple ?

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  17. mikenmild (11,719 comments) says:

    Maybe it is more about spreading good practice than upping the monetary rewards for a select few principals and teachers.

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  18. Bob R (1,393 comments) says:

    ***What is the relationship between the ability to think abstractly and the ability to reason?
    How are these abilities related to poverty?***

    @ Odakyu-sen,

    Herrnstein’s syllogism. Or as put by Harvard economist Greg Mankiw:

    1. People vary in their innate talents, as measured by, say, IQ tests.

    2. More talented people tend to earn higher incomes.

    3. More talented people tend to have more talented biological children–that is, talent is partially heritable.

    4. As a logical implication of the above three points, the raw correlation of kids’ SAT scores and family income conflates the true effects of family income with the biological transmission of talent.

    http://gregmankiw.blogspot.co.nz/2009/08/and-i-thought-i-was-being-boring.html

    On top of that there are various other behaviours that are likely to be associated with a person living in poverty, including drug/alcohol factors for example. These are going to create a less than ideal learning environment.

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  19. SGA (1,142 comments) says:

    Bob R at 2:31 pm

    On top of that there are various other behaviours that are likely to be associated with a person living in poverty, including drug/alcohol factors for example. These are going to create a less than ideal learning environment.

    I’d suspect so. I’d guess that even if you compared sub-groups of individuals with similar IQ scores from different economic strata, then the educational outcomes would be worse for people at the low end of the economic scale.

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  20. Nukuleka (347 comments) says:

    I teach part-time at a low decile state school with a significant number of Pacific Island students. The attendance rates at the school are poor, the behaviour is poor, the NCEA rates are poor. The principal is more interested in things such as ‘gender equity’ ‘rainbow politics’ and other such off the wall crap than communicating effectively with the parents and encouraging high academic achievement. The school could learn enormously from the examples of these go-getting high achieving low decile schools.

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  21. mandk (1,018 comments) says:

    @ Nukuleka,
    You’ve just outed your principal.
    It must be mikenmild :-)

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  22. nasska (11,804 comments) says:

    The elephant in the room that must be ignored at all costs is the attitude of many Maori & PI parents to education….it stinks.

    From reading the “Goodschools” document the Herald article is based on it would seem that those colleges showing the greatest improvement are those that do the most to drag the parents & community on board. The teachers’ unions will ensure that the lowest common denominator will be the aspirational standard of the pedagogues but this is one area where the efforts of the principals & boards of trustees can make a difference.

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  23. Odakyu-sen (749 comments) says:

    Nukuleka

    Sounds like Selwyn College just before Sheryl Ofner took over as the principal.

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