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NZ education research ‘smartest in the world’

January 7, 2008

NZ education research ‘smartest in the world’

A leading Canadian educationalist has hailed the Ministry of Education-funded Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) programme as ‘state-of-the art’ saying no-one else in the world is doing work as good.

Dr. Linda Kaser, Professor of Education at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, is in New Zealand to speak at the annual conference of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and School Improvement (ICSESI) in Auckland.

Dr Kaser says the BES programme, which gathers evidence of what works in education from local and overseas studies, is “the smartest intellectual property in the world”.

The Ministry of Education launched the latest research in its series of BES reports at the conference. Teacher Professional Learning Development is a study written by four researchers headed by Professor Helen Timperley of Auckland University.

Dr Kaser praised the broad nature of the BES studies and their development of models to help teachers and students reach their full potential. She says the BES Research manages to identify methods that can improve the learning of all students – particularly disadvantaged ones.

“I’ve been a member of the ICSESI congress for six years and I’ve read everything that’s been written that could help education in British Columbia. We thought that finding a solution that works for all learners was impossible. The fact that you have done it is incredible.”

Dr Kaser’s praise continues a period of good news for education in New Zealand, following the international PISA study showing New Zealand 15-year-olds’ achievement up with the best in the world.


About the Best Evidence Synthesis: Teacher Professional Learning and Development
The latest research from the Ministry of Education shows that effective professional development can give students a two year boost in their learning.
The analysis of 97 studies of teacher professional learning and development programmes is part of the Ministry’s Best Evidence Synthesis programme. Seventeen of the professional development studies were carried out in New Zealand and all showed what actually produced better results for students.
The New Zealand studies showed high overall effect compared with other countries.

“Much of our professional development work is clearly world leading”, said Ministry deputy-secretary Rob McIntosh.

The new BES was written by a team of four researchers headed by Professor Helen Timperley of Auckland University.

Their work has already received international acclaim from the International Academy of Education which plans to publish the findings worldwide, and from the American Educational Research Association which will feature the research in its 2008 annual review.

Key findings included:

- New Zealand’s literacy professional development project was exceptionally successful, especially for low achieving students

- New Zealand’s numeracy development project is a national professional development initiative that compares well by international comparison

- Teacher development programmes that made the most difference involved cycles of research and development

- When school principals and leaders are actively involved, teacher professional learning and development is more likely to succeed

- Big gains were made by students if the teacher’s content and assessment knowledge improved

- The quality of expertise available to assist schools with professional development was critical to its effectiveness

The hard copy of the new Best Evidence Synthesis on teacher professional learning and development will be launched at the Conference of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and School Improvement on January 6 and available online at


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