Three kura buck social trend in school exam results

academic success

The latest available data for every New Zealand high school shows three kura (schools) bucked the socio-economic trend for school exam results.

According to analysis of 2022 University Entrance (UE) and NCEA Level 3 results across New Zealand’s high schools, there is a clear correlation between academic success and social privilege.

Based on 2022 data published by the NZ Herald, this correlation remains evident despite a number of outliers disrupting the pattern.

Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae is an example of one school that bucked the trend.

It had an impressive record of all school leavers attaining University Entrance. This was despite the school’s high Equity Index (EQI) score of 492.

EQI is a rating that indicates social disadvantage; it replaced the old decile system in 2023. EQI scores increase by deprivation, ranging from 344 for the least deprived schools to 569 for the worst-off.

Principal Arihia Stirling said the school’s results were a by-product of looking after their students’ wellness – “of our ability to get our kids to see a different world”.

That involves understanding the students’ wellness – laying holistic foundations encompassing physical and mental health, high attendance and good nutrition.

Motivated staff and whānau with high levels of trust built over generations help too, she notes.

“The school has a long history of producing successful students who happen to be Māori” he says.

The Ministry of Education provided the NZ Herald with comprehensive data under the Official Information Act. The data highlights variations in NCEA pass rates among state, integrated and private schools.

Generally, schools with greater socio-economic advantages demonstrate higher pass rates for both NCEA and UE.

However, schools like Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae disrupt this trend, showcasing exceptional outcomes despite challenging circumstances.

Other kura, such as St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College and Manukura, share similar academic success stories against socio-economic odds. The schools emphasise high expectations, strong cultural values and supportive environments.

Integrated schools, while operating within the state school system, exhibit intriguing disparities in NCEA pass rates compared with their state counterparts.

The data reveals that integrated schools achieve NCEA Level 3 pass rates averaging 70.8%, surpassing the national average of 52.8%. This discrepancy underscores the potential impact of school ethos and character on student achievement.

Sense of belonging

It’s not new that kura are achieving academic success despite socio-economic challenges, according to Dr Nina Hood, Education Hub founder and former secondary school teacher.

“We’ve seen a number of kura do incredibly well in terms of the proportion of the students who are getting UE. If you go back in the data, you will see that that’s happened for several years” Hood says.

“I think part of it has to come down to the environment and culture within the school. We know that having a strong sense of belonging is really important for students.”

Dr Hood suggested that integrated schools displayed the same factors that impacted kura – “the strong culture, the strong sense of belonging, the creation of an environment that has a clear set of values associated with it”.


NZ Herald

CathNews New Zealand

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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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