STAR - Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource

Purpose of STAR

The Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) delivers additional operational grant funding  to all State and State-Integrated schools with year 11-13+ students to assist schools, in partnership with another provider (or workplace), to provide students alternative learning experiences to support their retention and achievement in education and to help students find suitable pathways to work or further study.

As with the other components of operational grant funding, schools have discretion in how STAR funding is used.  However, it is expected that schools will seek to provide students with the range of learning experiences needed to support their engagement and achievement and successful transition to further study and employment.  STAR should be seen in the context of the Youth Guarantee, which contains initiatives that aim to build the skills and core capabilities of young people and assist their achievement of NCEA Level 2. STAR complements this goal by providing opportunities for students to undertake industry related training, vocational pathways, academic extension, and short taster courses to gain exposure to career and study options.

The information provided below is primarily a resource for STAR coordinators, but includes information for external providers, boards of trustees, principals, teachers, and parents and caregivers.

Why were STAR and Gateway reviewed?

STAR and Gateway were reviewed to ensure alignment between these longstanding programmes and more recent initiatives at the secondary-tertiary-employment interface, such as Youth Guarantee, Trades Academies, and Vocational Pathways.

What did the review involve?

In August 2013, the Ministry of Education released a discussion document and survey to key STAR and Gateway stakeholders. The discussion document proposed the following four proposals for stakeholder comment: 

  • increasing expected credit achievement for STAR and Gateway 
  • aligning STAR and Gateway with the Vocational Pathways 
  • re-weighting STAR funding across Years 11 to 13 
  • improving reporting about STAR.

More than 500 submissions were received, 84 per cent of responses from the school sector, and around 10 per cent from the tertiary sector.

Results of the review

The sector strongly supports both the STAR and Gateway programmes and maintaining flexibility within both programmes to meet student needs.
As a result of the review, we are taking the following actions:

From the start of the 2015 school year:

  • improving STAR reporting by identifying students in Student Management Systems (SMS) 
  • increasing the average expected credit achievement student for Gateway from 10 to 20 credits but maintaining average credit expectations per student for STAR at 10 credits 
  • promoting alignment of STAR and Gateway to the Vocational Pathways.

From the start of the 2016 school year:

  • equalising weightings for STAR funding between Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13; with a higher weighting provided for students in Teen Parent Units.

What this means for schools and when it will happen

Improving STAR reporting

Schools that receive STAR funding will be required to record students participating in STAR programmes in their Student Management System (SMS). This information will be provided back to the Ministry of Education through the regular school roll returns.

We are working with SMS providers to minimise the compliance costs of adding this feature for schools.

We are improving the reporting requirements for STAR so we can continue to meet the needs of students, monitor the effectiveness of STAR on student achievement and retention, and identify and disseminate effective practice.

This reporting will be required from 2015.

Increasing expected credit achievement for Gateway

Average expected credit achievement per student for Gateway programmes is being increased to 20 credits. On average Gateway is already delivering close to the proposed credit expectations, so most schools should experience little impact. Information on credit achievement will continue to inform TEC funding allocation decisions.

This change will take effect in 2015 to enable the 20 credit expectation to be reflected in TEC funding allocation decisions for 2016 onwards.

Aligning STAR and Gateway to the Vocational Pathways

Using the Vocational Pathways will bring STAR and Gateway in line with newer Youth Guarantee opportunities, such as Trades Academies and fees-free tertiary programmes. It also means that STAR and Gateway programmes can deliver learning and assessment based on the national curriculum, since the Vocational Pathways include credits derived from the national curriculum as well as from generic and industry standards.

Schools will maintain their present flexibility to provide learning opportunities at higher levels, and/or opportunities outside the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, such as for driver licence training.

The Vocational Pathways have provided an important new framework to ensure that programmes arranged between schools, tertiary providers and work placements are coherent, and support students to make effective transitions to further study and employment.

Re-weighting STAR funding

STAR funding will continue to be a separately identified component of schools operational grant funding.

The re-weighting will not change the total value of STAR funding to be distributed between schools.

Currently, the STAR funding calculation funds Year 13 students at twice the rate of Year 11 students.

From 2016 we will equalise weightings for Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13 students at 1 unit per student. Teen Parent Units will be weighted at 1.5 units per student.

With the lower year-level weightings there will be less STAR funding units, so each STAR unit will generate a higher value of funding than at present.

The first 30 (rather than the current 40) STAR funding units will be funded at a higher rate than subsequent units.

We are equalising the year-level weights for STAR funding to reflect that schools currently use STAR funding across the senior secondary school. Prioritising STAR funding towards Year 13 students seems unjustified given students in Year 11 or 12 can equally benefit from STAR experiences.

The new re-weightings will be implemented in the 2016 school year to give schools time to plan for this change.

Content last updated: 21 May 2015