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The principle of high expectations

Welcome to The New Zealand Curriculum Update

Curriculum Updates support school leaders and teachers as they work to design and review their school curriculum in line with the New Zealand Curriculum and with current knowledge and understandings about effective classroom teaching.

Curriculum Updates are published in the Education Gazette and are available online.

This Update supports schools to explore and enact the curriculum principle of high expectations.

Student with experiment.

The curriculum supports and empowers all students to learn and achieve personal excellence, regardless of their individual circumstances.

The New Zealand Curriculum, page 9

The Education Review Office (2011) reports that high expectations, learning to learn, and inclusion are the curriculum principles most evident in New Zealand schools. Most schools appear to have high expectations for their students (ERO, 2010 and 2011). Nevertheless, in many schools these expectations are not yet being realised through all students achieving to their full potential.

Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis (Alton-Lee, 2003) shows that inappropriately low expectations for students may be self-fulfilling, leading teachers to select approaches that slow learning and narrow its breadth. However, high expectations, though necessary for learning success, are not sufficient in themselves and can even be

counter-productive when learners blame themselves for not meeting them.

High expectations should be supported by high-quality teaching. Projects such as Te Kotahitanga show the powerful effect of high expectations when accompanied by effective teaching developed through collaborative, evidence-based, whole-school professional development (Bishop et al., 2007).

Alton-Lee (2003) warns schools to avoid defining achievement expectations in terms of academic outcomes alone. The New Zealand Curriculum points to a range of outcomes that are valued by our society, including social skills and outcomes related to well-being and cultural identity.

Guiding questions He pātai

  • In what ways do you demonstrate that you have high expectations for all your students?
  • How do your teaching practices enable students to meet those expectations?

Download the full print version: Issue 22: June 2012 (PDF, 1 MB)