Better management, research and outcomes

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
2 August, 2019

Just on the horizon is the promise of better management of student data and the potential for better research on New Zealand school performance. Better data and insights are invariably the precursor to improvement and better outcomes for students.

The Ministry of Education is in the early stages of rolling out the Edsby student data platform under Te Rito, New Zealand’s student information management system.

Edsby is an award-winning digital learning and data platform for schools, designed to strengthen the continuity of student data during the 12 years of compulsory schooling in New Zealand.

The aim of Edsby is to reduce the administrative burden on teachers and schools, and to improve the quality and timeliness of data provided to the Ministry. It also intends to aid teachers in tailoring support for students, ensuring all communities receive equal chances for success, including transient, Māori, Pasifika and special needs students.

What makes Edsby so special is it collects data at the classroom level across all 2,500 public schools in New Zealand. This is noteworthy as current education research often only uses school-level data, which can miss important nuances within the classroom – in particular, peer-effects.

If integrated into Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) – while still prioritising data privacy – the insights gained from Edsby could be revolutionary for education research, evaluation and policy in New Zealand

Used in combination with existing Ministry and Census data in the IDI, research using classroom level Edsby data could finally provide evidence for current debates in education.

For decades, educators have argued the relative merits of classroom (ability) streaming. Research using Edsby data could finally settle this debate, or at least contribute valuable empirical evidence to this emotive topic.

Furthermore, used in combination with NCEA results, Edsby data could be used to study the effectiveness of modern-learning environments, or different organising structures for the curriculum.

Current debates in education are too often based on ideology and politics. New Zealand must base its education policy on evidence. The IDI is a world-leading database – even beating countries such as the United States and Australia in integrated data. There is no justification for a lack of evidence or an evaluation framework.

To that end, the Initiative will demonstrate in a forthcoming report what can and should be done with the world-leading data in New Zealand to improve education outcomes for all New Zealand students.

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