Media release: To Graduation and Beyond

Joel Hernandez
Media release
10 June, 2021

Wellington (Thursday 10 June 2021): Every secondary school should provide every student with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their endeavours after graduation.

However, new research from the New Zealand Initiative shows that this might not be the case.

Results suggest that some low decile schools might be doing a better job at preparing their students for completing a tertiary qualification.

Using data on more than 500,000 students enrolled at nearly 500 secondary schools, Policy Analyst Joel Hernandez shows that there are high-performing schools across all deciles.

Among high-performing schools (the top 10%), low decile schools tend to outnumber their middle- and high-decile peers, however.

This is the case when we consider the share of students that go on to complete a tertiary qualification one, three, five and seven years after graduating.

Hernandez says, “It’s great news that we can highlight spectacular performance in low decile schools.”

“Unfortunately, middle deciles 5 and 6 don’t fare so well in our evaluation.”

The new report is indefinite about what is causing these differences. Educational philosophy, teacher quality and pedagogy all differ across schools, all of which could be driving these differences. 

“While we can’t pinpoint the source of success in each school, we can at least provide an even playing field by accounting for each student’s family background.”

To Graduation and Beyond is the sixth report which uses the Initiative’s school performance tool to evaluate all the secondary schools in New Zealand.

The report puts the onus on the Ministry of Education to use the tool to figure out what factors are driving these differences.

“Of course, not every student needs to go to university, polytechnic or PTE. There are many worthwhile opportunities outside of a formal education.”

“Regardless of whether students’ progress into further study and complete a tertiary qualification, every child deserves an education that opens as many doors as possible.”  

Unfortunately, this report finds that students may not be getting equal opportunities based on the secondary school they attend, at least in tertiary preparation.

The report, To Graduation and Beyond: Secondary school performance and tertiary education outcomes can be read on the New Zealand Initiative website here.



Joel Hernandez is available for comment on 021 112 9913

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