Starpath Project

Completed in 2017, Starpath was the first rigorous research project looking into the impacts of socio-economic status on educational achievement in New Zealand.

About the project

Starpath was established in 2005 as a Partnership for Excellence led by the University of Auckland in partnership with the New Zealand Government. The project continued with support from the University of Auckland and was based at the Faculty of Education and Social Work until 2017.

The Starpath project focused on equitable outcomes for New Zealand students who have been under-represented in tertiary education.

It used an evidence-based approach to help transform patterns of educational achievement in New Zealand secondary schools. In 2016 the project moved into Phase Three of its work, which concentrates on a small number of schools in Northland and Auckland, promoting opportunities to learn and targeting the academic progress of students towards the University Entrance qualification.

The Starpath team was made up of a group of leading educational quantitative and qualitative researchers, supported by a Board of Governance which consisted of senior representatives from the University of Auckland, the Manukau Institute of Technology and the Ministry of Education.   

The team

Dr Melinda Webber
Dr Melinda Webber

Leading educational quantitative and qualitative researchers made up the Starpath team. The team was supported by a Board of Governance consisting of senior representatives from the University of Auckland, the Manukau Institute of Technology and the Ministry of Education.

  • Dr Melinda Webber, Director
  • Joy Eaton, Director Schools Engagement
  • Victoria Cockle, Research Analyst
  • Tania Linley-Richardson, Professional Development Facilitator
  • Morgan Rangi, Data Analyst and Facilitator
  • Kapua O'Connor, Research Assistant

Reports and publications




  • Malamalama i le NCEA (Lomiga lona lua/2nd ed)
    By Liz McKinley and Irena Madjar (NZCER, 2013)
  • Understanding NCEA (2nd ed)
    By Liz McKinley and Irena Madjar (2013)
  • Uni Bound? (Students' Stories of Transition from School to University)
    Edited by Elizabeth McKinley and Irena Madjar (2010)

Book chapters

  • "From schools in low-income communities to university: Challenges of transition for Māori and Pacific students".
    McKinley, E. & Madjar, I. (2014)
    In F. Cram, H. Phillips, P. Sauni and C. Tuagalu (Eds), Māori and Pasifika Higher Education Horizons. H.T. Frierson (Series Ed.), Diversity in Higher Education. Vol. 15. New Milford, CT: Emerald Books (pp 241-252).
  • "The Starpath Project: Promoting student success in secondary schools serving low-SES communities".
    Santamaria, A.P., Webber, M., McKinley, E. & Madjar, I. (2014)
    In V.M. Carpenter & S. Osborne (Eds). Twelve Thousand Hours: Education and Poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland: Dunmore Publishing (pp 238-245).

Journal articles

  • "Data systems in secondary schools: The state of play".
    Irving, S.E., & Gan, M. (2012). Computers in New Zealand Schools, Vol.24, No.2, pp108-136

Contact us

For enquiries or to request Starpath resources, please contact Dr Melinda Webber.