This article introduces the Research, Analysis and Insight into National Standards (RAINS) project, a study of how six schools are enacting the National Standards introduced into New Zealand’s primary and intermediate schools from October 2009. The article provides some background to the National Standards and the RAINS research before concentrating on findings from the first year of the study (2011). The most important of these findings were that the RAINS schools’ responses to the National Standards had been largely incremental and strongly influenced and shaped by school-specific contextual factors. Through brief accounts of each of the six schools, the article illustrates how crucial it is to take into account the contextual features of schools in order to begin to make sense of the range of responses they have had to the National Standards. We conclude by considering the implications of these findings and how the RAINS research will continue to build an understanding of how schools are grappling with the National Standards.
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