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NZ’s 15 Year Olds Among World’s Best In Literacy

28 August 2002

NZ’s 15 Year Olds Among World’s Best In Literacy

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today released a report that examines the background to the top international literacy ranking of New Zealand 15 year-olds.

In 2000, more than 3,600 New Zealand students from 153 schools took part in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Students were assessed with their peers from 31 countries around the world in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

“PISA showed us that our students are among the top overall internationally. This report gives new evidence of the diversity of achievement among New Zealand students. It shows that we have disparities between groups of students in New Zealand that are wider than in many other high achieving countries.

“On average, Maori and Pasifika students did not achieve as well in the assessments as Asian and Pakeha students within New Zealand. Despite this, many Maori and Pasifika students performed well at an international level. For example, Maori girls achieved at a level very comparable to the OECD mean.

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

“Policies like the Feed the Mind campaign, the Figure it Out series, the Pasifika English Language literacy initiatives and the Early Numeracy Project aim to reduce these disparities.”

Trevor Mallard released the report today in Porirua where he attended one of the first in a new series of workshops for principals as part of the Secondary Literacy Leadership programme. This is the first major initiative under the Government’s Literacy and Numeracy Strategy to focus on lifting literacy capability in schooling from years nine to 13.

“The training and materials available at these workshops will enable principals to lead their schools in improving and increasing the literacy achievement of all students.

“We can’t be satisfied with excellent averages of just a few who are the best. We must continue to work hard to reduce the disparities.”

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

- New Zealand was one of the top three performing countries in mathematical and reading literacy and for science students were the sixth highest performers overall.

- Girls significantly outperformed boys in reading literacy within New Zealand however boys still performed creditably at an international level.

- The new report highlights valuable background information about student’s attitudes and learning strategies and how they are associated with achievement.

- The association between these background issues and achievement vary between gender and among ethnic groupings.

- New Zealand 15-year-olds were fourth amongst the 32 countries in comfort and perceived ability to use computers.

- Girls were generally more engaged with reading than boys, with Asian students reporting the highest level of engagement in reading and Maori the lowest.

To read the PISA report and see the New Zealand summary click here:

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