Media Release: Class Divides? The impact of streaming on educational achievement and equality

Dr Michael Johnston
20 November, 2023

Wellington (Monday, 20 November 2023) – There have been calls to ban streaming in New Zealand schools. Streaming is the practice of separating students into different classes based on their prior learning.

In a new report from The New Zealand Initiative, authors Dr Michael Johnston and Benjamin Macintyre explore the evidence on streaming from local and international research. They note that there has never been a systematic study on the effects of streaming in New Zealand.

The authors disagree with calls for a ban. “If schools stop streaming without improving the way students coming from lower streams are taught, it can do more harm than good”, Dr Johnston said.

They recommend that, rather than banning streaming, the Ministry of Education should commission a study of its effects in New Zealand schools.

That study should investigate different ways of streaming and the effects on students’ learning in different subjects. In light of its evidence, schools could make informed decisions about whether to retain, abandon or modify their streaming practices.


The full report Class Divides?: The impact of streaming on educational achievement and equality is available from The New Zealand Initiative’s website here and a two-page summary of the report is available here.

Dr Michael Johnston is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact:

Dr Michael Johnston, Senior Fellow
P: 021 0227 3415

Jamuel Enriquez, Marketing and Communications Manager
P: 021 022 34451
About The New Zealand Initiative

The New Zealand Initiative is an evidence-based think tank and research institute contributing to public policy discussion.

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