Pacific Island students losing out - ERO

Last updated 12:18 21/05/2012

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Schools are making little progress in improving the achievements of students from Pacific cultures , the Education Review Office says.

That was despite Pacific students being the learners most at risk of not achieving, and after the Government's 2009 call for an urgent focus on lifting their performance.

Today ERO released its third report on the achievers of Pacific learners, and said that while some schools had positive practices in place, most were not sufficiently focused on improving Pacific learners' performance.

"As part of a young, diverse and growing population, Pacific students' progress, engagement and achievement at school, and the conditions that promote their success, are matters of national economic and social importance," the report said.

ERO found a large number of schools did not use Pacific contexts in the classroom or respond to the individual needs of Pacific learners.

It reviewed 302 schools as part of the evaluation, including a combination of primary and secondary schools from a range of deciles, roll sizes and locations.

Chief review officer Dr Graham Stoop said he expected all schools to focus on what they could do to improve achievement levels.

"We know it can be done - this and the two previous ERO reports include examples of effective practice by schools that are raising Pacific achievement levels," Stoop said.

The report said the findings of the latest evaluation were disappointingly consistent with those found by ERO in national evaluation reports in 2009 and 2010.

"Although ERO found positive practices in some schools, there were no significant system-wide changes evident in the way schools were responding to Pacific students, despite the widely recognised disparities in education outcomes for these students."

Pacific learners were far from homogeneous, but there was little evidence of primary and secondary schools responding to the diversity, identity, language and cultures of Pacific learners. Some were born in this country while others were new arrivals, the report said.

Schools should also promote the learning of individual Pacific students, based on evidence about the learners' cultural assets, interests, achievement and next steps for learning.

Classroom planning and practice frequently missed opportunities to reflect the culture, knowledge and understanding of Pacific learners.

"When a school's curriculum fails to connect learners with their wider lives it can limit their opportunities to respond to a particular context or to engage with and understand the material they are expected to learn," the report said.

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Levels of engagement with Pacific families also varied.

While many schools used the same approaches to engaging with Pacific parents as they used with other parents, ERO found some schools taking a more innovative approach.

For example, some schools were using community leaders and translators to communicate with parents.

- Stuff

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