Evaluator company/business: Educational Measurement and School Accountability Directorate, NSW Department of Education
URL or PDF: Download the Rural outcomes of schooling report (PDF, 1.78MB).
Summary: The aim of the research was to identify the strategies employed by rural schools that were performing well on state-wide tests relative to a measure of their remoteness combined with socio-economic status and how these strategies were implemented or maintained. The major method used was case studies in 14 rural schools. The Rural Outcomes of Schooling Research Project found that whole school strategies and programs provided a foundation on which a culture of success could be built.
Evaluator company/business: NSW Department of Education and Training, Catholic Education Commission of NSW
URL or PDF: Download the Successful language learners report (PDF, 588kB).
Summary: The Successful Language Learners Whole-school English as a Second Language and Literacy project aimed to improve the English language, literacy and numeracy performance of students learning English as a Second Language (ESL), including refugee students. To achieve this, a multifaceted, integrated approach based on research about what works in schools with high concentrations of ESL learners was used. Eleven NSW schools were involved in the two-year pilot program. The schools were ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse. Data from ESL Scales, SSL Assessment Banks and NAPLAN results were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies in the program. Significant improvements were made by students over the course of the project.
Authors: Peter Freebody, Kelly Freebody, Beverly Maney
Evaluator Company/Business: University of Sydney
Report: Download the Teachers Researching Communities - Final report (PDF, 827kB)
Summary: This study aimed to report on how some schools undertook initiatives to improve their relations with communities and, thereby, improve the learning of their students and the wellbeing and satisfaction of students and staff. The study involved classroom observation in nine schools, interviews with teachers, school leaders, students, parents and community members and monitoring the effects of practical interventions aimed at improving school-community relations. The study found that the research interventions, while small-scaled, were mostly successful and had some abiding effects on local school practice and policy. The authors concluded that research and development initiatives that aim to clarify and build more authentic and realistic relations between schools and their communities have a central part to play in the building and maintenance of fairer and more cohesive societies.
Evaluator company/business: Policy, Planning and Reporting Unit, NSW Department of Education
URL or PDF: Download the interim report of the Norta Norta individual sponsorship program evaluation (PDF, 432kB).
Summary: The purpose of this formative evaluation was to measure the extent to which the Norta Norta Individual Sponsorship Program had achieved its objectives of improving engagement, attendance and retention of Year 12 Aboriginal students. Data was gathered by online surveys from school staff, students and tutors from more than 100 schools and interviews with principals, teachers, Aboriginal staff, students, tutors and parents and community members in a sample of 18 schools across eight NSW regions. The study found that almost 80% of all eligible students took part in the sponsorship program in 2011. While the authors noted that was difficult to directly attribute improvements in learning outcomes and student engagement to Norta Norta alone, early observations indicated an improvement in educational outcomes for students such as improved course completion; improved engagement with schooling in general; improved attendance and increased rates of completion of Year 12 and completion of the HSC and enhanced post‐school aspirations.
Authors: Meg Dione-Rodgers, Susan Harriman, Sally Blackwell, Michael Costello and Barry Laing
Evaluator Company/Business: Quality Assurance, Policy Planning and Reporting Unit, NSW Department of Education
URL or PDF: Download the Kitchen Garden evaluation (PDF, 1.47MB).
Summary: The evaluation aimed to determine the effectiveness of the implementation and the impact of the program on student learning in nine metropolitan schools in the second year of pilot program. The study also sought to identify the professional learning programs and other resources that may be needed to support and sustain future programs. The evaluation employed a mixed method design using interviews with school principals and staff, students and parents, classroom observations, an online teacher survey and document review. The authors found that the program had positive outcomes: improving student engagement, particularly for students with special needs; developing student leadership skills and improved student learning about garden maintenance and healthy foods. Another key finding was that teachers placed high value on embedding the program in the school curriculum and generally believed that the program was sustainable.
Identifying high performing schools is an important step in developing the evidence base about “what works” to
improve educational outcomes for students.