Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Latest Learning Matters

The new government has moved quite quickly on introducing some measures that are designed to improve educational outcomes for young people. One of their initiatives includes annual testing of primary age students in literacy and numeracy. I have made my views on this quite clear several times.

Another thing they have done is increase the fines for parents who do not make sure that their children attend school regularly. While I don't necessarily agree that fining parents is the way to go I do support their determination to make attendance at school a priority.

I have just completed an analysis of leavers and their achievement levels at Opotiki College. What I found was that regular attendance at school and the number of years spent at secondary school determine the chances a young person has of achieving qualifications.

What did we find? We found that every student who left Opotiki College after completing 5 years at secondary school left with national qualifications (at least NCEA Level 1). We also found that there were only 2 students who left after 4 years secondary education who did not have qualifications.

The simple message from this that if you attend for 4 or 5 years there is just about a cast iron guarantee that you will get national qualifications.

But what about those who do not complete 4 years of secondary education?

The statistics for these students are not as rosy. Unsurprisingly, all students who do not finish 3 years of secondary schooling fail to gain qualifications. We had 9 such students. We also found that 68% of those who left at the end of 3 full years failed to gain any qualifications. We had 11 such students. As well, 60% of those students who return for a 4th year, but fail to complete it do not gain any qualifications. Again, we had 11 such students.

This shows that 33 students left last year without qualifications and for 31 of these they did not finish 4 yers at secondary school. When we analyse further we find that the vast majority of those 31 devloped poor attendance patterns early in their schooling, beginning with lateness to school, missing the odd class and then missing full days.

This reinforces the need for whamau and schools to work together to prevent lateness and poor attendance leading to leaving school before 4 years of completion.

While it is disturbing to have 33 students leave without qualifications it is empowering to see that the solution is simple for both schools and families. Students must attend secondary school for at least 4 years and they must not develop punctuality and attendance issues in their early years.

At Opotiki College we are taking a strong stand on lateness which will see regular latecomers attending catch-up on Thursday afternoons and on Saturday morning and involving the police in visiting homes and warning parents of students that are failing to attend regularly that they are in breach of the law.

We are doing this because it is our duty to take all possible steps to ensure all of our students gain national qualifications. The learning from our analysis is that attendance each day at school for at least 4 years is necessary to guarantee national qualifications and this learning really matters.


Anonymous said...

i left in my 3rd year,at 16 years old,went straight into a building apprenticship,now a qualified builder.

Maurie said...

This is a rare occurrence. The key in this situation that you left straight into a secure trade where learning and qualifications were to continue. Most who leave in their 3rd year do not follow this path.