Media Release: Bold ideas needed for managing school underperformance

Media Release
20 February, 2017

 In the US and the UK there is more experimentation to help under-performing schools than is permitted in New Zealand, says a report from The New Zealand Initiative. 

“We need political courage to innovate and find fresh solutions to improve student outcomes. New Zealand students languish in poorly performing schools for too long,” says the New Zealand Initiative.

The Initiative’s latest report, Fair and Frank: Global insights for managing school performance, examines how school systems in the UK and US address and manage school underperformance. The research shows that these international jurisdictions are permitted to experiment with different strategies to tackle persistent underperformance.

“Where state interventions have previously failed to make a difference, the voluntary and private sectors are permitted to step in to offer expertise and fresh ideas in efforts to improve student outcomes” says report author, Martine Udahemuka

“The more successful turnarounds have been those where school leaders have made use of their operational autonomies, where schools collaborate professionally, and where support is coupled with adequate accountability mechanisms.

In the District of Columbia, reforms to improve the quality of teachers have seen the public school system move from the last position to one of the fastest improving in America. Effective teachers are rightly recognised while those needing improvement are provided with tailored professional development.

“Students from poorer areas of New York City have enjoyed unprecedented achievement of up to 10 months-worth of extra learning a year by attending a charter school.

“In England, school review reports ensure that parents are not left to second-guess if their child’s school is outstanding or inadequate, whereas parents in New Zealand are left to read between the lines in the Education Review Office school reports.

”These are all examples of innovation that do not occur in New Zealand.  We have much to learn from them,” Udahemuka concluded.

Fair and Frank builds on the New Zealand Initiative’s previous report, Signal Loss: What we know about school performance, which highlighted that although most schools were high performers, too many low performing ones persisted, sometimes for up to a decade, despite increasing levels of state support.

In a forthcoming report, The New Zealand Initiative will draw out lessons from these global examples to inform practical recommendations for improved school performance management.

Read: Fair and Frank: Global insights for managing school performance
Read: Signal Loss: What we know about school performance.



Martine Udahemuka is available for interviews. Please contact:

Media contact
Simone White, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 2937 250

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