The principle of high expectations
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.