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Curriculum research reports

2016 research publications

Environmental education in New Zealand schools
This 2015 report updates the findings from a large multi-method study of environmental education in New Zealand schools, done in 2002-2004. The update report will be of interest to schools and environmental education providers and stakeholders who support schools.

Learning to learn in secondary classrooms
This report explores teachers' practice and thinking about one of the eight principles in the New Zealand Curriculum, learning to learn. It draws on data from teachers' responses to NZCER's 2012 National Survey of Secondary Schools. The author discusses the meaning and potential of the phrase 'learning to learn' and uses the survey data to look at teachers' practice. The report includes ideas for strengthening learning to learn approaches in schools.

2015 research publicationsRaising student achievement through targeted actions (published December 2015) 
In 2015,ERO investigated target setting in both primary and secondary schools, focusing on the extent to which targeted actions of schools supported accelerated progress for students at risk of not achieving.

Educationally powerful connections with parents and whānau (published November 2015)
In this report, the Education Review Office (ERO) evaluated how well 256 schools worked with parents and whanau to respond to students at risk of underachievement. They looked for examples where schools had specifically worked with parents and whānau to accelerate and support progress and improve achievement.

Capabilities for living and lifelong learning: What's science got to do with it? (published October 2015)
Science capabilities are a set of ideas for teachers to think with about science education. There are five: gathering and interpreting data, using evidence, critiquing evidence, interpreting representations of science, and engaging with science. This paper explores what student progress  in developing capabilities might look like. It draws on student responses from a small research project with students from Years 1-10 in a range of New Zealand schools. The appendix includes a number of thinking objects developed from the student responses.

Continuity of learning: transitions from early childhood services to schools (published May 2015)
This ERO report looks at how well New Zealand early childhood services and schools are supporting transitions to school and highlights what's important and examples of good practice.

Wānangatia te Putanga Tauira National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement: Mathematics and Statistics 2013 (published May 2015)
In 2013, the dual focus for the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) was mathematics and statistics, and health and physical education. A nationally representative sample of approximately 2000 students at Year 4 and Year 8 took group-administered paper-and-pencil assessments in mathematics and statistics, and responded to questions about their attitudes, learning experiences and support for learning.

NMSSA pe 2015.

Wānangatia te Putanga Tauira National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement: Health and Physical Education 2013 (published May 2015) 
In 2013 the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) assessed student achievement in two learning areas of the NZC – health and physical education, and mathematics and statistics. This report focuses on health and physical education. 

National Standards School Sample Monitoring & Evaluation Project 2010-2013 (published May 2015)
This report outlines findings from information collected in 2013 and describes trends observed over the four years of implementation to date. Five types of data were collected at two time points. Copies of schools’ 2013 student achievement targets and 2012 analysis of variance reports were collected in the middle of the year. At the end of the year, Overall Teacher Judgments (OTJs) in reading, writing, and mathematics were collected for all students, and judgements from the PaCT mathematics national trial were collected for a sample of students. Copies of end-of-year reports to parents, families and whānau were obtained, and an online survey of principals was conducted.

Careers education and guidance: good practice (published 07/05/2015)
This report focuses on good practice and showcases 10 secondary schools with high quality careers education. It identifies factors that contribute to high quality careers education and guidance in New Zealand secondary schools.

New Zealand student self-belief and confidence, and implications for achievement: Findings and implications from PISA for teaching and learning mathematics (published May 2015)
Student achievement in mathematics is related to many factors. This Insight for Teachers looks at a range of student attributes, measured in PISA 2012, that focus on students’ confidence (self-efficacy), self- beliefs (self-concept), learning approaches and motivation as well as examining how these factors relate to mathematics achievement among 15-year-olds. 

Education for Māori: Relationships between schools and whānau (published February 2015)
This report from the Auditor General Office examines how well the education system supports Māori students to achieve their full potential. It presents information about relationships between families and schools, and offers examples of practices that build effective relationships.

Inclusive Practices for Students with Special Needs in Schools (published 5/03/2015)
This report examines how well students with special education needs are included in New Zealand schools.

Wellbeing for Young People's Success at Secondary School (published 19/02/2015)
This report presents the findings of ERO’s evaluation of how well 68 secondary schools promoted and responded to student wellbeing. By understanding and improving this, it is hoped that all young people will experience a higher level of wellbeing during their teenage years.

Wellbeing for Children's Success at Primary School (published 19/02/2015)
This ERO report examines student wellbeing at school. Student wellbeing is central to successfully implementing The New Zealand Curriculum. A focus on wellbeing ties together the curriculum’s vision, principles, values, key competencies and learning areas.

2014 research publications

Achievement 2013-2017: Success for Students in 2013 (published 05/11/2014)
This report presents the findings of ERO’s evaluation of the Ministry of Education’s initiative Achievement 2013-2017. This initiative is about schools and the Ministry working together to improve student achievement.

Whānau Advisory Group Research Project (published April 2014)
The Whānau Advisory Group (WAG) initiative aspires to foster quality engagement between schools and their Māori communities in order to improve Māori student achievement. This report examines the impact of the Whānau Advisory Group initiative in fostering quality engagement between schools and Māori parents. 

Raising Achievement in Primary Schools (published 26/06/2014)

This national report presents the findings of how well a sample of primary schools were taking actions to increase the number of students achieving 'at' or 'above' National Standards.

Raising Achievement in Primary Schools:ALiM and ALL (published 26/06/2014)

This national report is a companion report to Raising Achievement in Primary Schools. It presents further findings of how some of the primary schools were using the Ministry-funded support projects - Accelerated Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) and Accelerated Learning in Literacy (ALL) to accelerate progress and raise achievement.

Exploring Teacher Professional Learning for Future-Oriented Schooling (2014)

This working paper sets out some of the early findings from a pilot project to explore the qualities that future-oriented teachers might need and how those qualities might be developed.

Raising Achievement in Secondary Schools (published 30/06/2014)

This report documents the findings of ERO’s 2013 evaluation of how well 40 secondary schools analysed and responded to their NCEA data.

Measuring New Zealand Students’ International Capabilities: An Exploratory Study (published 25/06/2014)

This exploratory study considers the feasibility of measuring New Zealand senior secondary (Years 12/13) students’ 'International Capabilities'.

International Capabilities – A Summary Report for Schools (published 19/06/2014)

This summary report is drawn from research and analysis by the Ministry of Education and an explorative study completed by the New Zealand Council of Educational Research into international capabilities for students in New Zealand schools.

Supporting School Improvement Through Effective Teacher Appraisal (published 16/05/2014)

In 2013 the Education Review Office (ERO) evaluated the quality of teacher appraisal systems in schools using online surveys of principals and information from 200 school reviews. This report presents the findings of ERO’s evaluation of schools’ approaches to teacher appraisal.

Towards Equitable Outcomes in Secondary Schools: Good Practice (published 29/05/2014) 

This report presents examples of good practice in student engagement and achievement. The examples come from a sample of secondary schools, rated decile 5 or below with rolls of 200 students or more, who had better outcomes for students than other similar schools.

Supporting School Improvement Through Effective Principal Appraisal (published 16/05/2014)

This report presents the findings of ERO's 2013 evaluation of principal appraisal in primary and secondary schools.


Student Safety in Schools: Recruiting and Managing Staff (published 23/01/2014)

This report presents the findings of ERO's 2013 evaluation of how schools ensure student safety when recruiting and managing staff.

Primary and Intermediate Schools in 2013 (published 2014) 

This report presents the main findings from the NZCER national survey of primary and intermediate schools, conducted in July and August 2013.

Evaluation of He Kākano: Professional Development for Leaders in Secondary Schools 2011-2012 (published 01/2014)

This report details the bicultural approach of the He Kākano evaluation, methodology, data analysis, key findings, strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for future school leadership professional learning programmes intending to promote educational outcomes for Māori student success as Māori.

2013 research publications

PISA 2012: New Zealand Summary Report (published 12/2013)

This summary report provides an overview of New Zealand results for mathematics, reading and science in an international context. In addition this report looks at the overall trends in New Zealand achievement for each of these subjects as well as for priority learners (Māori, Pasifika and low socio-economic students).

National Standards: School Sample Monitoring and Evaluation Project 2010-2012 (published 09/2013)

This is the fifth report from the National Standards School Sample Monitoring and Evaluation (NSSSME) project. This report covers the implementation of National Standards during 2012 and analyses trends from 2010 to 2012.

Previous NSSSME reports

Increasing Educational Achievement in Secondary Schools (published 15/08/2013)

This national report presents the findings of ERO’s recent evaluation of the practices used in an initiative to support the improved achievement of a specific group of Year 12 students.

Understanding Special Education From the Perspectives of Pasifika Families (published 07/2013)

The aim of this report is to identify the strengths of current service provision; barriers to accessing SE services for Pasifika; and the extent to which cultural perspectives on disability and SE and the low numbers of Pasifika professionals affected engagement and satisfaction with SE services for Pasifika families.

Parents', Families' and Whānau Contributions to Educational Success (published 07/2013)

This working paper, published by the Children's Commissioner, describes the parenting behaviours and attitudes that have major impacts on developmental and educational outcomes. 

Secondary Schools: Pathways for Future Education, Training and Employment (published 25/06/2013)

This report follows on from ERO’s 2012 report on careers education, Careers Information, Advice, Guidance and Education (CIAGE) in Secondary Schools. This second report investigates how well 74 secondary schools have prepared their students for future opportunities in education, training and employment.

2012 report on careers education

Stories of Resilience and Innovation in Schools and Early Childhood Services: Canterbury Earthquakes 2010-2012 (published 19/06/2013)

This national report gives an insight into what Canterbury schools and early childhood services experienced during and after the earthquakes. It tells their stories and gives good advice about emergency planning for others in the education sector.

A National Report Summary has also been included, which highlights the key points and includes examples, questions, and advice. 

NCEA One Decade On (published 05/2013)

This report documents views and experiences of NCEA from NZCER's 2012 National Survey of Secondary Schools. It shows support for NCEA has remained high among principals and consolidated among teachers, school trustees, and parents. It’s the first time parental support has risen above 50 percent in the survey series and it was higher among parents with a child in the senior school.

Spotlight on Mathematics/Pāngarau (published 04/2013)

This Education Counts webpage brings together a range of resources designed to help those interested in improving students’ achievement levels in mathematics in New Zealand.

Mathematics in Years 4 to 8: Developing a Responsive Curriculum (published 01/02/2013)

In this evaluation ERO used the mathematics learning area and associated standards to look at what schools were doing to raise the achievement of students in Years 4 to 8.

2012 research publications

Evaluation at a Glance: Transitions from Primary to Secondary School (published 10/12/2012)

This national report combines current research with findings from recent ERO reports about students' transitions between and through schools. The report discusses the important pastoral care and learning support processes needed for successful transitions.

Easing the transition from Primary to Secondary Schooling: Helpful Information for Schools to Consider (published 30/10/2012)

This report is the last in a series of three. Each report presents findings from a Ministry of Education project "A Study of Students' Transition from Primary to Secondary Schooling".

Other reports in the series

Reporting to Parents: National Standards Years 4 to 8 (published 09/2012)

This report is part of a series ERO is publishing about National Standards. The report shows that while most of the schools evaluated were meeting their reporting requirements, there are still some that need to improve the way they communicate National Standards information to parents and whānau.

Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools (published 29/08/2012)

This report is the second in the Evaluation at a Glance series. It is a synthesis of material from 15 national evaluations and reports of good practice published in the last four years that, taken together, reveal three key issues facing New Zealand’s education system.

Building a Science Curriculum with an Effective Nature of Science Component (published 2012)

This paper places two decades of science curriculum reform in New Zealand in the context of international debate about the “nature of science” (NOS) as a driver of change. It outlines the sort of changes that the NOS focus was expected to deliver, why they were seen as a good idea and the challenges encountered in other countries. It then comes back to the New Zealand experience, tracing the development of the science learning area in the New Zealand Curriculum. The paper poses questions about what needs to happen next in science curriculum development.

Science in the New Zealand Curriculum e-in-science (published 2012)

This is a milestone report for the Ministry of Education on the e-Learning in science project. It explores the possibilities that exist for e-in-science to enhance student engagement and learning in science. It draws on data from a survey of 343 New Zealand teachers.

Science Community Engagement with Schools (published 2012)

This report documents the first phase of a project looking at school–science community engagement initiatives. It was carried out for the Ministry of Education as part of the Science community engagement project, which is part of a wider programme of work on science in the curriculum.

The report explores the wide range of programmes, initiatives and partnerships currently operating that are designed to link schools and the science community. Specific examples are discussed and there are sections on initiatives targeting Māori and Pasifika students. The report also discusses international initiatives. The final section looks at the purpose of science community-school collaborations and asks how they can be sustained and where to next.

Curriculum support in science (published 2012)

This report for the Ministry of Education analyses the results of a short online survey of teachers. The survey asked about teachers' access to a range of resources that support teaching and learning in science. The survey drew on responses from 343 teachers in New Zealand primary and secondary schools. The findings will help inform the ongoing work of the three projects within the Science in the Curriculum programme of work. The ethical process followed for the survey is described in 20 minute survey about teaching and learning in science.

Report cover.

Teaching as Inquiry: Responding to Learners (published 19/07/2012)

This is ERO’s second national evaluation report on the extent to which schools have processes in place to support teaching as inquiry. It also looks at the specific inquiry approaches teachers use in classrooms.

First report - Directions for Learning: The New Zealand Curriculum Principles, and Teaching as Inquiry, May 2011

Report cover.

The New Zealand Curriculum Principles: Foundations for Curriculum Decision-Making (published 19/07/2012)

This is ERO’s second national evaluation report looking at the extent to which the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum are evident in schools’ curricula and enacted in classrooms. The curriculum principles are intended to be the basis of curriculum decision-making at schools.

First report - Directions for Learning: The New Zealand Curriculum Principles, and Teaching as Inquiry, May 2011

Cover of report by Rachel Bolstad.

Supporting Future-Oriented Learning and Teaching - a New Zealand Perspective (published 2012)

This research report draws together findings from new data and more than 10 years of research on current practice and futures-thinking in education. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Education to support its programme of work to develop a vision of what future-oriented education could look like for New Zealand learners.

Cover of report Pacific Learners.

Improving Education Outcomes for Pacific Learners (published 01/05/2012)

This is ERO’s third national evaluation report focusing on how schools engage with Pacific learners and act to improve their achievement outcomes. The report is based on information gathered from 302 schools from a range of deciles, roll sizes and locations across the country.

Science in the New Zealand Curriculum: Years 5 to 8 (published 05/2012)

The Education Review Office (ERO) has evaluated the quality of science teaching and learning, its place within the curriculum, and its relationship to literacy and numeracy teaching, focusing on years 5 to 8 in 100 schools.

Cover of report primary school curriculum.

The Primary School Curriculum: Assimilation, Adaptation, Transformation (published 2012)

This NZCER report focuses on the implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) in primary and intermediate schools. The NZC was published in 2007 and by 2010, implementation was expected to have been well underway. This report looks at differences across the sector in terms of progress on implementation and includes discussion of issues such as how schools are prioritising different aspects of the NZC, shifts in classroom - based formative assessment, use of ICT to support the school curriculum and the challenges of creating a curriculum to meet the learning needs of all students.

2011 research publications

Competent Learners @ 20 - Summary of Key Findings (published 09/2011) 

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER)’s Competent Learners study has followed some 500 children from just before they started school. In 2009 they turned 20. This summary gives some key findings from the age-20 phase of the Competent Learners study.

Cover of community engagement report.

From Community Engagement in Education to Public Engagement with Education (published 2011) 

This paper discusses the relationship between schools and their communities. It explores the purpose of different school-community initiatives and discusses the case for a wider public engagement in education for the purpose of rethinking how schools meet the needs of all learners in the 21st century.

Directions for learning.

Directions for Learning: The New Zealand Curriculum Principles, and Teaching as Inquiry May 2011 (published 22/07/2011)

In early 2010, the Ministry of Education asked the Education Review Office (ERO) to conduct an initial evaluation, and a follow up evaluation one year later, to investigate how schools were using the eight principles and the teaching as inquiry process as outlined in The New Zealand Curriculum.

Education Gazette article - Schools reflect curriculum principles

Graphic colour swirl logo

Network Learning Community Case Studies (published 17/05/2011)

The Ministry of Education carried out an evaluation of the Network Learning Communities (NLC) initiative in 2010. NLCs are one of the PLD opportunities offered in 2011 by the Ministry and delivered by School Support Services.

Cover of report Evaluation Network Learning Main.

An Evaluation of Network Learning Communities — Main Report (published 05/2011)

This report presents findings from a study evaluating the Network Learning Communities initiative in 2010.

Cover of report Evaluation Network Learning Summary.

An Evaluation of Network Learning Communities — Summary Report (published 05/2011)

This is the short summary report from a study evaluating the Network Learning Communities initiative in 2010.

Cover of report Evaluation Network Learning.

An Evaluation of Network Learning Communities — Technical Report (published 05/2011)

This is the technical report from a study evaluating the Network Learning Communities initiative in 2010. It contains detailed analyses of two surveys and presented 10 case study summaries.

Cover of report Curriculum Implementation.

Curriculum Implementation Exploratory Studies 2 (published 05/2011)

This study reports on ways in which innovative schools and teachers have been working to implement The New Zealand Curriculum across all three years of the project.

The Shape of Curriculum Change summary
Rose Hipkins' breakfast presentation covering the key findings from the Curriculum Implementation Studies (CIES) project (Cowie, Hipkins, Keown, Boyd, 2011), and supporting resources.

Science Education for the Twenty-first Century (published 05/04/2011)

A strong and forward-looking science education system in the school years is a necessary prerequisite for New Zealand’s future success in an increasingly knowledge-based world. Yet the changing nature of science and the changing role of science in society create major challenges for effective science teaching.

Cover of report Synthesis of Research.

Implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum: Synthesis of Research & Evaluation (published 01/04/2011)

The revised New Zealand Curriculum was launched in November 2007, with schools required to give full effect to the curriculum by February 2010. Progress towards this has been monitored using evidence reported by the Education Review Office and research teams commissioned by the Ministry of Education.

Cover of report Final Evaluation.

Monitoring and Evaluating Curriculum Implementation: Final Evaluation Report on the Implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum 2008–2009 (published 01/04/2011)

This report presents findings from a national evaluation of the implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum. The project sought to establish a national picture of implementation progress in English-medium schools in the first two years following the curriculum's launch in November 2007.

Evaluation at a Glance: What ERO Knows About Effective Schools (published 09/03/2011)

This report explores five themes from a cross-section of ERO's evaluations in primary and secondary schools over the past four years.

2010 research publications

NZCER 2010 Primary & Intermediate Schools National Survey (published 12/2010)

This survey was conducted in schools in July 2010 in a random sample of 350 schools. It includes the views of principals, teachers, boards of trustees and parents on a range of issues. This report provides a snapshot of the overall patterns.

The survey included questions about the implementation of National Standards and this report includes those findings.

Cover of report competent learners.

Promoting Success for Māori Students: Schools’ Progress (published 05/10/2010)

This 2010 report evaluates how schools have promoted success for Māori students since ERO’s previous national report in 2006. The success of Māori students at school is a matter of national interest and priority. ERO has published five national evaluation reports on this topic since 2001. These have identified system-wide issues and recommended steps to be taken by schools and by the Ministry of Education to promote success for Māori in education.

Preparing to Give Effect to the New Zealand Curriculum (published 31/05/2010)

In this evaluation, undertaken in Terms 3 and 4 2009, ERO investigated school leaders’ progress with organising teaching and learning to give effect to The New Zealand Curriculum, and implementing effective teaching strategies.

2009 research publications

School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis (published 04/11/2009)

The Ministry of Education’s School leadership and student outcomes: Identifying what works and why: Best evidence synthesis iteration (BES) was launched by the Minister of Education, Hon. Anne Tolley, at the opening of the University of Auckland Leadership Centre on 4 November 2009.

A friendly guide to the leadership BES
Professor Viviane Robinson has recorded a friendly guide to the leadership BES on the Educational Leaders site.

Cover of report Curriculum Implementation.

Curriculum Implementation Exploratory Studies: Final Report (published 21/10/2009)

This final report provides an overview of the findings from the Curriculum Implementation Exploratory Studies (CIES) project.

Readiness to Implement The New Zealand Curriculum (published 31/07/2009)

Schools are expected to be preparing for the implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum by February 2010. As part of its regular reviews from Term 3, 2008 until the end of 2009, ERO is evaluating and reporting on schools’ readiness to implement this curriculum.

Managing Professional Learning and Development in Secondary Schools (published 30/04/2009)

Teaching is a complex and demanding profession. Teachers require high quality support and training throughout their careers to ensure they have the strategies and skills to meet the needs of learners. Professional learning and development (PLD) is central to maintaining and improving teacher quality.

Managing Professional Learning and Development in Primary Schools (published 30/04/2009)

In this report and its companion report for primary schools our focus has been on how well schools manage professional learning and development for the people whose skills and training are most fundamental to the achievement of students – classroom teachers.

2008 research publications

Social Sciences Tikanga a Iwi (published 11/2008)

This report is one of a series of best evidence synthesis iterations (BESs) commissioned by the Ministry of Education. The Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme seeks to support collaborative knowledge building and use across policy, research, and practice in education.

BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme

2007 research publications

Teacher Professional Learning and Development (published 12/2007)

The Teacher Professional Learning and Development BES illuminates the kind of professional learning for teachers that strengthens valued outcomes for diverse learners.

BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme

Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics/Pangarau (published 02/2007)

This best evidence synthesis in pāngarau/mathematics plays a key role in knowledge building for New Zealand education. As a capability tool, it identifies, evaluates, analyses, and synthesises what the New Zealand evidence and international research tell us about quality mathematics teaching.

BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme

2003 research publications

Professional Development in Early Childhood Settings (published 10/2003)

This report is one of a series of best evidence syntheses commissioned by the Ministry of Education. It is part of a commitment to strengthen the evidence base that informs education policy and practice in New Zealand . It aims to contribute to an ongoing evidence-based discourse amongst policy makers, educators and researchers.

Community and Family Influences on Children's Achievement (published 06/2003)

The influences of families/whanau and communities are identified as key levers for high quality outcomes for diverse children. Outcomes include both social and academic achievement. The focus is on children from early childhood through to the end of secondary schooling.

Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling (published 06/2003)

Quality teaching is identified as a key influence on high quality outcomes for diverse students. The evidence reveals that up to 59% of variance in student performance is attributable to differences between teachers and classes, while up to almost 21%, but generally less, is attributable to school level variables.

Quality Teaching: Early Foundations (published 01/2003)

This synthesis addresses the question of:

“What works in early childhood teaching for maximising children’s learning outcomes and reducing disparities amongst diverse children?”



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    Updated on: 11 Sep 2014