Why this data publish by the NZ Herald is SO IMPORTANT

(I know it is late but occasionally educators do work the long hours).

For many years in NZ schools have fudged their data. There used to be something called participation data that was, frankly, gamed to the point of being fraudulent.

The previous National government hit that on the head.

In February schools publish their “roll” data which does not account for all of the students who have left school prior to the relevant cohort. Some schools with apparent reputations will have lost 30% or more of their students before they turn 17. It is a much higher proportion for Maori and Pasifika students in those schools.

This data set is incredibly instructive about the NZ education system: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/politics/how-nz-secondary-schools-rank-on-ncea-level-3-and-university-entrance-results/ITJFFEL225GATGRSI464TRYAE4/

I have no doubt that some schools will say that the Ministry data is not accurate. In the past when I have published that data some prominent Principals have told me that I am wrong. On each occasion my work has proved accurate. Others will complain that Derek Cheng and Chris Knox doing this is creating unfair league tables. Some will say UE is not important as a lot of their kids are not suited to study (they normally mean the brown ones). That is not why UE is important. It is the highest qualification most schools are involved in. It is aspirational.

There are two important points to make. The LEAVERS data is far more honest and respectful to the school communities as it shows the schools in a much more accurate light in terms of academic achievement (i.e. what school is for).

Here are some examples of schools with those “problem areas” we talk about in NZ – boys,Maori, lower decile.

Manukura: 85.7% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
St Joseph’s Maori Girls: 88.9% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
St Peter’s (Epsom): 94.2% UE pass rate for LEAVERS (their neighbours Auckland Grammar at 74.9%)

Here are 8 schools who pump their reputations – especially through sporting prowess (i.e. the Super 8 competition).

Rotorua Boys: 14.9% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
Tauranga Boys: 30.4% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
Hamilton Boys: 40.0% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
Palmerston North Boys: 41.8% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
New Plymouth Boys: 32.3% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
Napier Boys: 42.0% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
Hastings Boys: 35.0% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
Gisborne Boys: 22.6% UE pass rate for LEAVERS

Have a thought for the UE pass rates for LEAVERS from these pivotal South Auckland high schools.

Manurewa High School: 12.2% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
Alfriston College: 22.2% UE pass rate for LEAVERS
James Cook High School: 12.2% UE pass rate for LEAVERS

Those three are by no means the worst in the country and have been trending up a bit but should we be at all comfortable with the gaps? The school I went to – Whanganui City College – sits at 2.6%. Which brings me to my second point.

A school like Rotorua Boys (or any other low performing academic school) will not become a St Peter’s overnight.

What each Board of Trustees, Principal and community can do is be very honest about where they are at and set aspirational but incremental goals (not like Hekia Parata’s blunt axe goals).

These are the relevant ones:

– Full attendance (published weekly).
– Retention to 17 – accompanied by tracking destinations.
– Percentage going into Tertiary study/full apprenticeships.
– Surveyed parental/family engagement.

What this data set shows is not solvable by government and certainly not by the Ministry – although both must massively lift their games and the top 12 in the Ministry really do need to move aside as their failure is monumental for young people, families and the national as a whole. From 2,700 to 4,300 employees in 6 years and this is the definitive data.

Every school & community needs to work very hard and with great skill to lift the students. 

Alwyn Poole
Innovative Education Consultants

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