Students at Tauranga and Western Bay colleges are almost all passing their NCEA exams at higher rates than the rest of the country. Caroline Fleming delves into the data to find out how well each of the area's schools are doing at getting their students to achieve their qualifications - and what some are doing to improve their results.
The hard study has paid off for students in Tauranga and the Western Bay, with almost every secondary school in the area ranking highly in the nationwide NCEA results.
Almost all of the 10 schools in the district achieved higher than the national average pass rates, with many having a high percentage of Merit and Excellence endorsements behind them, according to the latest data released by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
Local principals have put the successes down to a number of different reasons, including a competitive edge and students' personal goals.
Topping the ranks in both pass and endorsement rates was Aquinas College.
Principal Matt Dalton said he was "extremely proud" of the "exceptional" rates of achievement the school's students had reached.
Dalton said it all came down to the students' commitment to their learning, the strength in partnerships between teachers, students and families, as well as a "holistic curriculum grounded in Catholic values".
Another high-achieving school, which ranked only just behind Aquinas College, was Bethlehem College.
Principal Eoin Crosbie said the high ranking was the result of a broad academic programme that "reflects the special character of the school and its students".
The school's high endorsement rates came from every student "doing the best they can", which in most instances was higher than just achieving, he said.
Another school that smashed the national averages across all three year levels was Mount Maunganui College.
Principal Alastair Sinton said there was "no secret" to their success and the school simply excelled in "knowing our learners" and worked hard to serve their "diverse community".
He said "developing students beyond the academic sphere" and "making sure character, wellbeing and identity" were always part of the conversation had a positive impact on achievement.
Tauranga Boys' College achievement rates were sitting on the national average in NCEA Level 1, but not Level 2 and 3.
Principal Robert Mangan said the school preferred to look at their cumulative rates, which all excelled the average national rates.
Cumulative rates were those that looked at different year groups achieving in either the level above their age or below.
Mangan said the reason for this was because a number of boys were studying a year ahead of their peers.
The school did rank well in endorsements, which Mangan said was a "deliberate strategy" by decreasing the number of assessments to focus on the quality, rather than quantity, of credits.
Tauranga Girls' College achieved highly across all year levels and well above the national average. The school also did well with endorsement rates.
Principal Tara Kanji said the school was competitive when it came to success in the Bay and nationally and it prided itself on reducing the gap when students arrived with lower levels of achievement.
Pāpāmoa College results were above the national average for their Year 13 students, but fell just below for Year 11 and 12 students.
Principal Steve Lindsey said students worked, progressed and achieved at different rates, but the important thing was to keep them building on their achievement and working towards their personal goals.
The largest school in the city, Otumoetai College, achieved above the national level in pass rates.
Principal Russell Gordon said the most important thing to him was to create "well-rounded students" and prepare them for life after school.
Gordon said his goal for the college was to make sure it was above the national average in NCEA achievement every year and that it would become the norm for the school.
Katikati College achieved above the national average for level 1 and 3, but fell just under in level 2.
Deputy principal Ian Nicholson said the school worked on student achievement and had a mentoring system in place that built students "capacity" and maximised "positive outcomes".
Te Wharekura O Mauao's results were not published in the table as a large number of their Year 11 students passed level 2 and 3, as well as level 1.
Principal Heywood Kuka said this was because the school's learning structure was completely different to other schools.
Students would start NCEA Te Reo in Year 7 and 8, gaining credits from the age of 12.
In Year 10, students would start subjects like history and social sciences, which could link in with their te reo and many could pass all three levels by year 11.
The school concentrated on a student's individual goals and the career pathway they chose. If they only needed level 2, that would be all they would get, he said.
He said they did not use NCEA as an indicator of student success and it was not possible to compare them to other schools.
Te Puke High School failed to achieve higher than the national rate in all three year levels.
The percentage of year 11 and 12 students receiving endorsements were lower than other schools in the district, however, for year 13 students it was high.
The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend approached principal Alan Liddle for comment but was told he was too busy to respond.