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Investigation into boys' achievement at secondary

Investigation into boys' achievement at secondary

A programme to identify solutions for lifting boys' achievement at secondary school was announced today by Education Minister Trevor Mallard.

"There's a great deal of interest and debate about boys and why they don't achieve as well academically at secondary school," Trevor Mallard said.

"The work I have commissioned will improve our knowledge base and help us clarify what needs to be done to improve boys' performance.

"Included in the work programme is a literature review to establish where there are gaps in the current evidence base related to boys' achievement in New Zealand schools and to identify programmes resulting in improved achievement of boys.

"An external reference group, of four to five experts in boys' achievement, will also be established shortly to provide advice on matters relating to the educational achievement of boys in New Zealand.

"Ministry of Education staff are currently meeting with co-educational and boys school principals to discuss boys' achievement and to identify programmes which are making a difference for them.

"Principals are already analysing data on this subject as it is all part of a concerted effort to improve educational outcomes for under achieving students through quality teaching.

"I anticipate that we will have some clearer evidence as to what is working in terms of boys' achievement in schools towards the end of the year."

Trevor Mallard said recent research indicated there were no significant differences in achievement of boys and girls at primary school.

However, data from School Certificate, National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and Bursary indicate there are differences at secondary level.

"Research attributes this to differences in maturity levels and interests of boys and girls in their teenage years," Trevor Mallard said.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests that boys do need clear targets and goals as a way forward. At university level the differences in achievement between women and men are again not significant. "While the trends in boys' achievement at the secondary level are international they are wider than expected in New Zealand schools and particularly for Mäori and Pasifika boys.

"We clearly need to address this issue."

The Ministry of Education and New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) makes national and international achievement information, and existing research and analysis available to schools so they can monitor patterns of achievement in their classrooms and act on any problem areas.

Schools also have their own rich sources of data, for example from the literacy and numeracy test asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning) and from the NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement), which they can use for this purpose.

"The additional work we are doing this year will greatly add to the information that is already available about how we can lift boys underachievement," Trevor Mallard said.

A snapshot version of the literature review "Exploring and Addressing Gender differences: A literature review" Adrienne Alton-Lee and Angelique Praat, Research Division, Ministry of Education, 2000, is available on

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