Equity and Quality Education for All: A New Zealand Perspective
Meeting the ‘Quality Education for All’ challenge, will require education to move beyond its historical function of sorting. Trustworthy evidence about what makes a bigger difference, why, and how, becomes a crucial resource in this endeavour. Cycles of high impact collaborative research and development (R & D) in which each cycle informs ongoing implementation (the how as well as the what of improvement) are a key to disciplined innovation that can be scaled to transform teaching and leadership. Such R & D generates knowledge and smart tools to be used by others responsively in their own contexts, given conditions that support the learning of all involved, both adults and children. International studies show that ‘number of books in home’ is highly indicative of achievement1; the digital divide will only amplify this effect. Parents who try to help their children with reading can inadvertently have reverse influence with persisting negative effects2, yet one R & D intervention supports schools, parents and community libraries to engage so effectively together that in five hours the impact on achievement is greater than a year’s teaching. Evidence about the equity and achievement costs of grade retention, socio-economic segregation, streaming, ability grouping and labelling has accumulated over decades.3 R & D informed collaborative group work can accelerate achievement gains and build the social values and skills needed for a better world.4 Internationally there is a growing body of evidence forged from the expertise of indigenous and minoritised leadership about transformative approaches to schooling.5 Such approaches strengthen relationships for learning, leverage community funds of knowledge, address cultural capital challenges, and accelerate achievement gains where disparities have prevailed. New Zealand indigenous leadership developed through five phases of R & D, an approach that resulted in gains for Māori that were three times those of a comparison group.6 At the heart of these examples of accelerated improvement are complex pedagogies that translate the ‘science’ of what works in education into transformative change through a collaborative process that depends for its success upon building relational trust with all involved. Yet, the ‘pedagogical core’ that is at the heart of education ‘features surprisingly little in many reform agendas seeking to improve quality and equity around the world’. If reform is to serve the equity goals that are fundamental to the well-being of our societies, we need to build and use evidence about effective pedagogies and change processes.
Mullis, I.V.S., Martin, M.O., Foy, P., & Drucker, K.T. (2012). PIRLS 2011 International Results in Reading. Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.
Robinson, V., Hohepa, M., & Lloyd C. (2009). School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why: Best evidence synthesis (BES) iteration. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
Schleicher, A. ( 2014). Equity, excellence and inclusiveness in education: Policy lessons from around the world. Paris: OECD.
Alton-Lee, A., Hunter, R., Sinnema, C., & Pulegatoa-Diggins, C. (2012). BES Exemplar 1: Developing communities of mathematical inquiry. Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Lipka, J., & Adams, B. (2004). Culturally based math education as a way to improve Alaska Native student’ math performance. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED346082).
Alton-Lee, A. (2014, forthcoming). Ka Hikitia – A Demonstration report: Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 2010–12. Wellington: Ministry of Education