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Research on teaching to help students achievement

Research on teaching to help students achievement

A key government priority for education in the future will be on improving the quality of teaching to help lift students’ achievement, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

Trevor Mallard today released three new research reports that for the first time draw together international and New Zealand educational research and evaluation evidence about how to effectively improve learning.

“Focussing on the evidence about what actually makes a difference for children is the key to improving education in all schools and early childhood education services,” Trevor Mallard said.

“This research focuses on what has been shown to make a difference to student outcomes, that is on what works, rather than on what is fashionable, feels good and works in theory.

“This government is today giving a commitment to focus on quality teaching as a key priority for schooling. These new reports will help to deliver on our government’s two top education priorities - to build an education system that reduces underachievement for all students and that equips New Zealanders with 21st century skills.

“All New Zealand educators work with diverse groups of students who come from different backgrounds and have different needs. The challenge is to respond to the unique needs of individuals and make diversity a strength.

“Developing better professional practice from this kind of robust evidence base is crucial if we are to improve learning outcomes for all New Zealand children.

“The research has found that within the education system, the quality of teaching practices by educators is the largest influence on the achievement of children in schooling – greater than school-level influences and other factors such as class programme, curriculum, activities, resources or environment.

“Stronger connections between homes and classrooms, between parents and educators, are also shown to be a crucial factor. And the research identifies important information to strengthen links between education and other areas of social policy.

“These reports are a valuable resource for educators, policy makers and education researchers. I encourage the education sector to work with the Ministry of Education to make the best use of this research and put it to work for the benefit of New Zealand’s young people,” Trevor Mallard said.

The new reports, described as “best evidence syntheses”, are titled: Quality Teaching: Early Foundations Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling; and The Complexity of Community and Family Influences on Children’s Achievement in New Zealand.

Some of the key findings are: Taken as a whole, family and community resources, processes and characteristics are the most important influence on educational outcomes for children in early childhood and schooling.

While educational outcomes across the population are related to characteristics such as ethnicity, parental education and income, there are evidence-based examples of how the link between educational underachievement and these background characteristics can be broken.

Within the education system, the quality of teaching practices by educators is the largest influence on the achievement of children in schooling – greater than school-level influences and other factors such as class programme, curriculum, activities, resources or environment.

Significant gains in achievement can result from effective links between home and early childhood education and classroom experiences, and through partnerships between family/whanau and educators.

Effective teaching requires a strong professional knowledge base and expertise that enables teachers to be responsive to the diversity of students.

Teaching that is responsive to student diversity can have a positive impact on low and high achievers at the same time.

Differences in achievement within schools and between classes are generally far larger than the differences between individual schools.

“While these reports seek to pull together the best of our current knowledge about what works with diverse students in New Zealand, they are an evolving work that will be shared with the wider education sector and built on as we learn more about what works.

“I hope they will provide a starting point and a stimulus for policy makers, educators and researchers to build, analyse and share the knowledge base about what practices really make a difference.

“Between individual schools and government, about $120 million is spent each year on professional development and advisory services. I am now working, through a careful exercise, to realign this spending so it reinforces what we now know makes a difference. Over the next few months we will also provide teachers with copies of this evidence, ” Trevor Mallard said.

Copies of the reports are available from the Ministry of Education’s website http://

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