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New Zealand Students On Top Of The World

A major international report released world-wide today shows that education in New Zealand is right up with the best, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said.

The OECD report on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), presents the results of an assessment of more than quarter of a million 15-year-old students in 32 countries. It measured student performance in reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy.

New Zealand ranks third for average performance in reading, and mathematical literacy, and sixth for scientific literacy.

“It’s a great result for New Zealand overall, but also gives us a clear steer on areas we need to work on,” Trevor Mallard said.

“This is not just another survey. In New Zealand the study involved 3,600 students from more than one hundred and fifty schools.

Among the OECD countries, 10 per cent of students are at the top level of proficiency for reading literacy. In New Zealand, almost 20 per cent are in the top level, and that’s better than anyone else.

“We are talking here about young people who are 15 or have just turned 16. These are the young New Zealanders who are thinking seriously about what they are going to do with their lives. This report shows that our schools are preparing them well in these areas to face the wide range of decisions that lie before them.

“Teachers, principals, boards of trustees, parents, and the myriad of other unsung heroes who are playing their part in putting our education system on the world map can feel proud today.

“Apart from anything else, this international comparison confirms why New Zealand is a world leader in attracting overseas students to study here. They know that we are among the best.”

Trevor Mallard said there were many points of interest in today’s report:

- Both competitive and co-operative learning relate positively to performance. NZ students rank 4th on the scale for co-operative learning and 2nd on the scale for competitive learning.

- NZ students rank 4th for comfort with, and perceived ability to use, computers.

- NZ has the 5th highest proportion (10%) of students who don't speak the language of the test at home.

- NZ students are more positive about the support they get from their teachers than those in most other countries.

- Disciplinary problems in NZ schools are about average in comparison with other OECD countries.

- On average, our students do as much homework as students in other participating countries.

Trevor Mallard said there was a wealth of useful information in the latest study.

“The aspect of this report where I most want to see change is that while we have a large number of students performing at the top of the scale - we still have too many students performing at the lower levels.

“As a country, we must maintain the high standards that our top students achieve and lift the rates of achievement among those at the lower end of the scale.

“That is at the core of the Government’s work to reduce disparities through policies like increasing the numbers of specialist literacy teachers available to support schools working in schools, provision of high quality curriculum resource material, and increasing funding to school operation grants.

“It is also why we have such a big focus on improving access to quality early childhood education. More and more research is showing us that investment in early childhood education makes a huge difference to achievement levels later in life,” Trevor Mallard said.


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