An early warning system can draw the attention of teachers to students’ learning needs early in the course of study, allow monitoring of progress in student learning, and guide the implementation of instructional interventions. In this article we report on a study in which we examined teachers’ views on using early warning systems to identify students who are “at risk” of failing to complete their NCEA qualifications, and we describe the measures that can be put in place to better support such students to achieve their learning goals.
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A research project looking at Māori student participation and achievement in science and mathematics education examined four junior secondary school programmes that targeted Māori in these subject areas. Students and parents were found to prefer activity-based programmes, provided they dealt with contemporary activities and topics of interest to the students.
The aim of any subject-choice process should be to provide better educational outcomes for all students. This study, however, found that many students do not understand the full implications of their NCEA course choices or course allocations. Māori, Pacific and lower decile secondary school students are particularly at risk of ending up with inappropriate choices if their academic potential is not recognised early enough and they do not receive clear guidance about the best course choices.
NCEA course choices matter, especially where students or their parents have aspirations to follow an educational pathway beyond school or even just to leave their academic options open. This study, conducted in four mid–low-decile schools in Auckland and Northland, found that reaching academic aspirations requires careful and planned navigation of NCEA courses. It suggests that informing and engaging parents in their children’s NCEA educational pathways may contribute to better educational outcomes.