Risk Index to replace decile funding

The Minister of Education, Nikki Kaye has confirmed that the Government will replace the decile system for schools and the equity index for early childhood education services and ngā kōhanga reo, used to allocate funding to mitigate the impact of disadvantage, with a new and improved funding system.

The new system will be based on a Risk of Not Achieving Index that will better target funding to need. The change will occur in 2019 or 2020, depending on the outcome of further consultation with the education sector.

The Government has not yet taken decisions on the funding arrangements to support the new Index, but plans to make additional funding available to support the new system. It has also agreed that no school, early learning service or ngā kohanga reo will see a reduction in its disadvantage funding as a result of the replacement of decile or the equity index.

Decisions on the supporting funding arrangements are expected to be made as part of Budget 2018.

Schools and services will be funded based on their estimated number of children at greater risk of educational underachievement using the new Risk Index. The Index estimates the likelihood that a child or young person will not achieve NCEA Level 2 based on information about that child’s life. Analysis shows that the Index more accurately estimates a child’s likelihood of underachievement than the decile or equity index of the school or service that child attends.

The factors that will make up the index will be finalised in the next stage of work. Factors that are likely to be included are:

  • Proportion of time the child has been supported by benefits since birth
  • Child has a Child, Youth and Family notification
  • Mother’s age at child’s birth 
  • Father’s offending and sentence history
  • Ethnicity
  • Youth Justice referral 
  • Mother’s and father’s average earned income over previous 5 years 
  • School transience.

A child is at low or high risk on the Index due to the full combination of factors in their lives; not because they have, or do not have, one specific factor.

The objective of using the Risk of Not Achieving Index is to better target funding to schools and services to reflect the size of their achievement challenge. It is not about directing funding to individual children.

The Index will operate within the Integrated Data Infrastructure hosted by Statistics New Zealand. The Ministry, schools and services will not be told the names of children who generate the targeted funding.

Schools and services will decide how best to use the additional funding to support the children they assess to be at risk of underachievement based on what they see in the classroom, as they do with existing Targeted Funding for Educational Achievement and Equity Component funding for early learning services.

The shift to a Risk Index for disadvantage funding is the first change to education funding to come from the Funding Review. The review was established in 2016 with the objective of ensuring that the funding systems for schools, early childhood education services and ngā kōhanga reo are aligned with the supporting all children and young people to achieve their educational potential.

Online tool for parents

The Government has also asked the Education Review Office (ERO) to work, with the Ministry of Education, to develop an online tool to make it easier for parents and caregivers to access simple, easy to understand information on the quality and effectiveness, as well as the characteristics, of every school and service in New Zealand. This would be the first time such information has been brought together in one place.

The tool is part of a number of initiatives to make it easier for parents to find and access information about the quality of schools. ERO and the Ministry of Education hope to have the first sets of indicators online by mid 2018.

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