Saturday, 9 February 2019

True Liberation for our learners: exciting new data on achievement

What if we could figure out how to take learners who were well behind their peers nationally, and accelerate their learning to the point that they exceeded the statistical average of achievement growth for all learners? What if we could figure out how to reduce the inequities that run through our society such that all learners were able to learn and be the best they could be, regardless of gender or ethnicity?

Would we be interested? Would we want to embrace those processes?

Well, within our Uru Mānuka cluster (and in fact all Manaiakalani clusters) we know how, and here is some of the latest evidence.

Hornby High School and the Uru Mānuka cluster have been a part of the Manaiakalani Outreach since 2015. The efficacy, the impact, of the pedagogy and the digital devices is tracked carefully and independently by Woolf Fisher Research Centre (Auckland University) to verify the truthfulness of claims as to its effectiveness. WFRC uses the nationally determined and normed assessment tools e-asTTle, and PATs, to measure progress in writing, reading, and numeracy.

This is no laboratory controlled experiment, ethically we cannot deliberately have some children in our kura experience the impact of 'Learn Create Share' and digital devices, and some not. We can however measure the impact of the work that we do against children nationally, the vast majority of whom do not experience the pedagogy.

So last week we had our first sight of three years worth of achievement data tracking learners at Horny High School, and the Uru Mānuka cluster.

The improvements in writing are frankly nothing short of spectacular, gobsmacking, exciting .. choose your own superlative.

The following graphs track achievement as measured at the beginning and the end of the year in writing, using the e-asTTle writing tools. They track the same students and their achievement across three years, beginning of year 2016 to end of year 2018. The gray line on each graph is the progress measured for all students across the entire country of that age. Acceleration . we define as progress at a rate faster than that national progress.

The best way to look at these graphs is to look at where they begin at the very start (Fenruary 2016) in comparison with the grey line, and where they have ended up at the end of 2018.

What do you notice?

Hornby High School writing progress Years 7 - 10 by gender
All of the groups have shifted form well below the national grey line,. to above the grey line. That is acceleration. In this first graph you will see that both groups of students, boys and girls,  have made that shift. The dips in achievement you see are what we term the 'summer slump', the learnign that is lost over the summer break. As an aside, it is with this in mind that Manaiakalani set up and runs the Summer Learning Journey. More about that again later this year.

But it is even more powerful that that. The following graph shows shifts in achievement by ethnicity.

Hornby High School writing progress by ethnicity

Regardless of ethnicity, all students have made massively powerful shifts in their writing achievement. This is truly culturally responsive stuff, it overrides ethnicity. It enables all learners to accelerate their learning.

And this is not restricted to Hornby High School. Here is that same data across our whole cluster.

Uru Mānuka cluster writing progress by gender
I began this blog post by asking this question: "What if we could figure out how to take learners who were well behind their peers nationally, and accelerate their learning to the point that they exceeded the statistical average of achievement growth for all learners?"

WE KNOW!! We KNOW how to do this. We do this by using the 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy of Manaiakalani, and by magnifying the impact of that pedagogy by using digital devices (Chromebooks).

This is LIFE CHANGING stuff. This is TRANSFORMATIVE stuff, transforming lives before our very eyes.

Now in all honesty our own progress in reading and mathematics isn't as spectacular. We knew that and so in 2018 we experimented with several new strategies that showed great promise, and so we will be rolling these strategies out in 2019, sitting alongside and supporting the work that takes place under the Manaiakalani banner.

I am brought back to the wonderful cartoon used by Mr Pat Sneddon:

Image result for snedon cartoon equity liberation

What we see unfolding before our eyes is true liberation.

The critical success factors are:

  1. Teaching staff who are well versed in and committed to 'Learn Create Share', and the use of digital devices, and
  2. All students with access to Chromebooks
This week we released details of the new finance and purchase options that have now become available to whānau as a result of the work of our wonderful Uru Mānuka Education Trust, connecting with the Manaiakalani Education Trust in Auckland. 

We KNOW how to accelerate learning. Sadly as kura we are not resourced sufficiently well to provide Chromebooks for all learners. However, we are able to address the financial obstacle that stands in the way of so many. We KNOW how to do this. Providing a Chromebook for your child is, after your love and time, the next best investment you can make in your child's future. Join with us. Together we are unstoppable.

Ngā mihi nui
Robin Sutton


  1. Talofa Robin, as usual, you have 'nailed it'. We know how to reduce inequities and accelerate student achievement, and we have compelling evidence to support this, as you so clearly articulate. Congratulations on your writing data, outstanding! As we know, our next challenge is to replicate these results in mathematics and reading. I look forward to discussing your thinking on this. I imagine you won't be getting off this bus anytime soon ...!

  2. Kia ora Robin. Outstanding results, congratulations! I agree with you, the most exciting thing about the data is the significant accelerated progress that the students are able to make thanks to the Learn, Create, Share pedagogy with access to Chromebooks. The cartoon sums it up really, what you are providing is access to equitable learning and opportunities and empowering your students to thrive!

  3. Kia ora, Robin- this is such positive data to share with our community and it will help to build self-efficacy. I hope to see our learners growing in confidence.

  4. Stunning data Robin and a great reinforcement for all staff and students and parents in the Ura Manuka cluster. Shout it out from up high!!!!

  5. Deliberate acts, well-researched and thoughtfully applied, have created accelerated progress for all. A beacon for us all. Congratulations HHS, Uru Mānuka, and Manaiakalani.

  6. Thrilled that we are finally able to assist whanau with the purchase of chromebooks. Devices help students overcome their own limiting beliefs by making learning more accessible for all. Exciting times indeed.