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Global Study Shows NZ Reading Ability At Lowest Ever

Thousands of young people are being let down as New Zealand hits unprecedented lows in an international assessment of Year 5 students’ reading abilities, National’s Education spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“The latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) released tonight shows the reading skills of Kiwi students continue to decline, with New Zealand recording its lowest score since the inception of PIRLS in 2001.

"While how we compared to other countries did improve, our reading score is now the lowest it has ever been, showing that children at school today are performing worse than New Zealand students two decades ago.

“Reading and writing are core foundational skills that our young learners need to experience success in school and go on to live a life full of opportunity that a great education gives them. These results show that our children are being let down by a Government that is robbing them of that bright future.

“According to a Newshub poll tonight, nearly 70 per cent of Kiwis don’t think that the Government is doing enough to address falling numeracy and literacy rates, and given these PIRLS reading results, they are right to be concerned.

“It is not just these latest PIRLS results - we are sliding backwards on every international measure of our educational performance. In our own domestic measure, half of 15-year-olds cannot pass a foundational numeracy and literacy test set at a level the OECD says is necessary to succeed in further learning, life and work.

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“Without urgent change, our literacy and numeracy standards will continue to decline. This is not just a social failure but a future economic crisis.

“We won’t lift education achievement in New Zealand by continuing to do the same things taking us backwards – the time for talk and strategy documents is now over.

“National will be totally focused on lifting student performance, and that starts with our plan for ‘Teaching the Basics Brilliantly’, which will ensure every child has the skills they need in reading, writing, maths and science to set them up for further success.”

PIRLSNZ Average Score
2021 (released today)521

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