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Assessing how schools are responding to the Equity Index

Mohamed Alansari, Hana Turner-Adams, Mengnan Li

In 2023, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER), on contract to the Ministry of Education, undertook research to assess schools’ responses to the Equity Index (EQI) and the associated key questions: 

  1. To what extent are schools/kura implementing initiatives, practices, and resources designed to address socioeconomic barriers? (baseline)  
  2. To what extent are schools/kura changing practices or expenditure decisions to address socioeconomic barriers in response to funding changes resulting from the EQI? 

A case study methodology was used to provide nuanced understandings of how 15 English-medium schools across Aotearoa New Zealand support their students to achieve equitable outcomes, and how that might change with the introduction of the EQI. The report also describes schools’ initial perceptions of, and reactions to, the new EQI system. 

Of note is that our sample over-represents schools whose equity funding will decrease substantially over the next few years. Those schools may have felt more driven to take part in our research to share their views about the potential impacts of equity funding cuts. 

Key messages from the case study: 

  • There is a need for clear definitions of equity and equitable outcomes in education 
  • System-wide sharing of good policies, processes, and practices to support students achieve equitable outcomes is vital 
  • The EQI system is complex to understand 
  • Increasing Ministry communication and support could clarify misunderstandings about the EQI and associated changes 
  • Schools losing funding planned to cut core equity-focused actions 
  • Schools are using EQI funding to address poverty 
  • Teasing out EQI system changes and equity funding effects on student outcomes may prove challenging 
  • Many equity-focused actions require school-wide PLD 
  • School leaders play a critical role in navigating policy change 
Year published: 
Publication type: 
Research report
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