Thursday, 2 May 2019

Holiday Drop-Off in The 31?

We often hear about 'summer holiday drop-off' in our student's results and hypothesise about what that means, what causes it and how we can overcome it. 

However! My data analysis has revealed some great news! 

For the 31 year 9 Tamaki College students who accelerated in their reading comprehension last year, this wasn't a phenomenon. They made progress in their holidays at the same rate as the rest of NZ. It just wasn't as much as they made during their school year, which is encouraging because that means teachers and schools can help and DO have an impact on the students in their classes! :)

Interestingly, 'summer holiday drop-off' is also not a phenomenon in the averaged reading comprehension results of ANY Year 9 Manaiakalani years who arrived at Tamaki College in the last three years; as you can see, the trend continues upwards from the last Year 8 result to the first Year 9 result. 

Why might that be? Maybe students are nervous or excited about starting secondary and do some online research or reading over their break! Some might participate in the summer holiday learning journey, but the spread of participants probably include primary students too. The drop-off can't be a function of testing in Primary schools, (that students perhaps aren't prepared for their Term 1 test but do a lot of practice or pre-testing in class before the Term 4 one) because this would show again from Y8 to Y9 as in Y9 students receive little preparation and just head in to sit the test under standard test conditions. In summary - I don't really have a strong hypothesis for why there's drop-off between primary years but not between primary and secondary! 

If we look at the top graph again, the reason why my inquiry is important is revealed: 

Individually, each of the 31 accelerated in reading up towards the national mean during their school year. This is shown as an average in the graph above. Then, they have tracked along with the rest of NZ over the holidays to reach their Year 9 score, and didn't drift further away from the mean. This holiday improvement is an average again, as 22 improved on their final Y8 score but 9 dropped.

The challenge here is "can I find out what caused this Year 8 acceleration?" Because wouldn't it be awesome if they made the same amount of progress in Year 9 and crossed that national mean line!  AND wouldn't it be amazing if whole classes and year groups could manage this, and the Manaiakalani cluster became as good at improving reading as we are at improving writing.

I don't teach all of the 31 - in fact, I only teach 3 of them. So it's important that I create and share something from the findings of my inquiry, so teachers across the cluster can have a go too!

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