Most Maori students leave school without a Level 2 NCEA qualification, a new report shows.
Nga Haeata Matauranga - the Annual Report on Maori Education 2007-2008 - showed 56 percent of Maori left before achieving the second level of National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), compared with 34 percent of all learners.
That was an improvement, with an increase in Maori school leavers getting NCEA Level 2 or above from 36.7 percent in 2006 to 43.9 percent in 2007.
As well, nearly 40 percent of Maori left school before turning 17, compared with the national average of 30 percent.
"This suggests high levels of disengagement, with associated low achievement," the Ministry of Education report said.
"Overall, the measures of participation (including retention, early leaving exemptions, suspensions, expulsions, exclusions and truancy) suggest that a higher proportion of Maori learners and Pasifika learners disengage from secondary education than learners of other ethnicities.
"For example, Maori learners are three times more likely to be stood-down, suspended, excluded or expelled than their Pakeha peers and four times more likely to be frequent truants."
Boys were more likely to disengage than girls.
Associate Education Minister Pita Sharples said progress was being made "but we have to do better, and at a much faster rate".
"Maori learners and their whanau deserve excellence, no matter where they are in our education system."
Dr Sharples said the kaupapa Maori education model -- whereby families took responsibility for the learning environment based on Maori philosophies -- was achieving results and was something all New Zealanders could learn from.
"Although only a small proportion of Maori students are enrolled in Maori-language medium schools, they achieve better than their Maori peers in English-language schools," he said.
"Whanau know their children's potential, and they know how to release it, right from early childhood through to tertiary education.
"When whanau take ownership and are encouraged to invest in their children's learning, they are able to place high expectations on their children, and to support them to achieve the highest standards."
• Ninety one per cent of Maori children starting school had participated in early childhood education (ECE), compared to 86 percent in 2002;
• between 2005 and 2007, the proportion of Maori ECE teacher registrations increased from 38 percent to 49 percent;
• the number of students involved in Maori-medium education, where Maori language made up at least 12 percent of teaching and learning, dropped 2.9 percent to 28,490;
• 15.8 percent of Maori students are in Maori-medium education;
• 8.1 percent of Maori students are learning te reo Maori for more than three hours per week, 17.7 percent for less than three hours per week;
• 6272 students were in kura kaupapa Maori and kura teina, up 2.1 percent;
• the number of kura kaupapa Maori has grown from 13 in 1992 to 68 in 2007;
• year 11 candidates at Maori-medium schools were more likely to meet both the NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements than other Maori candidates.
• the proportion of year 11 Maori learners achieving the reading literacy and numeracy criteria for NCEA Level 1 increased 1.2 percent to 61.1 percent;
• Maori school leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above increased from 36.7 percent in 2006 to 43.9 percent in 2007;
• Maori school leavers qualified to attend university increased from 14.8 percent in 2006 to 18.3 percent in 2007;
• retention rates for 17-year-old Maori learners increased 0.2 percent to 39.1 percent;
• the proportion of Maori participating in modern apprenticeships increased 0.5 percent to 15.6 percent.
The report said the ministry's first priority is supporting schools to ensure Maori stayed engaged.
"Engagement in the education context describes the extent to which learners actively participate in learning in school. Without engagement, achievement is unlikely," it said.