Research note: Tomorrow’s Schools: Data and evidence

Joel Hernandez
8 April, 2019

A comprehensive and year-long econometric analysis of data for 400,000 students undertaken by The New Zealand Initiative reveals there are no significant differences in school performance between schools of different deciles.
Adjusted for the different student populations they serve, the vast majority of New Zealand’s secondary schools create the education outcomes we would expect from them.
This finding calls into question the assertion of the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce, led by Bali Haque, which claimed that “quality of our schools varies significantly”. There is no evidence for this statement in the data provided by Statistics New Zealand’s via its Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI).
Commenting on the research, the Initiative’s Executive Director Dr Oliver Hartwich said: “The Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce has recommended broad-sweeping changes to our schools. But such changes need to be based on solid analysis, not just anecdotal evidence. Since the vast majority of our schools are working equally well, we do not see a justification for such changes.”
The Initiative’s research also buries the old myth that school quality is linked to school decile.
“We know that excellence and underperformance exist in individual schools in both high and low deciles. Our tool, once employed by the Education Ministry, can identify how each school is doing. This could then be used by the Education Review Office, Boards of Trustees or even Education Hubs that the Taskforce wants to set up,” said Hartwich.
The Initiative will be releasing further results from its econometric study over the coming months and is making its model available to all researchers and government departments utilising Statistics New Zealand’s IDI. 

About the author

Joel Hernandez is a Policy Analyst and an econometrician at The New Zealand Initiative. He works on education research using data from Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure.

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