Principals are being told to get parents more involved in their children's education in a new study on how schools cater for students at risk of failing.
The Education Review Office report, to be issued today, recommends principals and senior staff involve parents and families in reinforcing schoolwork.
It said parents wanted to be involved, and being so was particularly important for "at risk" students.
New Zealand students did well by international standards but a big gap existed between the academic achievement of those at the top and those at the bottom end.
Schools are required to find out which students are failing and who is at risk of it, and find ways to help them. Chief review officer Dr Graham Stoop said the report showed schools did well at knowing who needed help - about 75 per cent were able to identify students at risk of failing.
But more schools needed to measure how good their programmes were. Almost half in the study had yet to evaluate how much their programmes helped low achievers.
Dr Stoop said the report pushed for parent involvement as part of schools' strategies because it had been shown that strong links with homes could improve children's results.
"It has a significant effect on students' presence at school, their engagement at school and also their achievement at school - it's a key to it," said Dr Stoop.
He said many schools already had good strategies, but more could be done.
A study released in June showed almost 75 per cent of the schools' ERO reports included recommendations for improving engagement, of which a quarter related to developing or improving partnerships with parents.
The new report, which assessed provision for at risk pupils in 155 schools, highlighted approaches considered worthwhile.
They included information sharing "contracts" involving parents and teachers, weekly resource packs on reading and maths for 4-year-old preschoolers and a programme in which fathers read and discussed books with students - which aimed to promote boys' interest in reading as well as encourage those at risk of not achieving.
It said just under a third of the 125 primary schools in the study used parent and community volunteers to help with students' literacy. Parent involvement was noted in two of the 30 secondary schools.