School leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above
What We Have Found
Seventy-four percent of school leavers achieved NCEA Level 2 or above in 2012.
Updated: July 2013
Percentage of school leavers with an NCEA Level 2 qualification or above.
Why This Is ImportantA formal school qualification is a measure of the extent to which young adults have completed a basic prerequisite for higher education and training and many entry-level jobs. The main qualiﬁcation available to secondary school students is the NCEA, which encompasses a wide range of learning. NCEA enables students to undertake multilevel study to attain credits, perhaps at different levels in any one year, towards an NCEA qualiﬁcation. Students can attain credits through internal and external assessment, and they can accumulate these credits both within and across years. Future educational and job prospects will be limited for those who leave school without Level 2 NCEA.
The attainment of an upper secondary school qualification is linked to labour force status and incomes. In 2011, New Zealanders with no qualifications had an unemployment rate 48% higher than those whose highest qualification was a school qualification (OECD, 2013).
How We Are GoingIn 2012, 74.3% of all school leavers attained at least NCEA Level 2, an increase of approximately two percentage points compared with 2011. Since 2009, there has been a proportional increase of 10.2% with respect to those who attain at least NCEA Level 2, with 74.3% in 2012 compared to 67.5% in 2009.
Female school leavers (78.2%) achieved at a higher rate than their male counterparts (70.6%) and therefore were 11% more likely to attain at least NCEA Level 2. The size of this gender difference has decreased by 1.3 percentage points since a recent peak in 2010.
Figure 1: Percentage of school leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above, by gender (2009-2012)
Total response ethnicity collection involves counting people who identify with more than one ethnic group in each of these ethnic groups. For the New Zealand total, individuals are counted only once. When looking at ethnicity in this way, in 2012, Asian students had the highest proportion of school leavers attaining at least NCEA Level 2 (87.0%), which was seven percentage points higher than European/Pākehā (79.6%). Pasifika (64.8%) and Māori (54.6%) had the lowest rates.
Figure 2: Percentage of school leavers with an NCEA Level 2 qualification or above, by ethnic group (2009 to 2012)
Looking at the ethnic group trends, the largest proportional increases in those attaining at least NCEA Level 2 has been in Māori school leavers, with an increase of 19.3% between 2009 (45.7%) and 2012 (54.6%), and Pasifika school leavers, with an increase of 14.6% between 2009 (56.5%) and 2011 (64.8%). This can be compared to the European/Pākehā school leavers, who had a proportional increase of 9.5% between 2009 (72.7%) and 2012 (79.6%). Asian students had a proportional increase of 5.3% over the same time period. These changes indicate that the disparities between ethnic groups are reducing slightly over time but a large achievement gap remains for Māori and Pasifika students.
Figure 3: Percentage of school leavers with NCEA Level 2 and above, by school decile and school (2012)
A clear positive correlation can be seen between the socio-economic mix of the school the student attended and the percentage of school leavers attaining at least an NCEA Level 2 qualification. Schools in the lowest deciles (deciles 1 and 2) draw their students from communities with the highest degree of socio-economic disadvantage.
In 2012, 89.6% of students from schools in the highest deciles (deciles 9 and 10) left school with at least an NCEA Level 2 qualification. This was 54.2% higher than the percentage for school leavers in deciles 1 and 2 (58.1%). There is a large variation among schools within each decile in the percentage of school leavers attaining at least an NCEA Level 2.
- Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- Anthony, G., and Walshaw, M. (2007). Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics/Pāngarau: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- OECD (2013). Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD.
Downloads / Links
Where To Find Out MoreTo obtain other information about school leavers consider indicators: School leavers with NCEA
Level 1or above School leavers with a
university entrance standard School leavers entering
tertiary education 18-year-olds with a minimum of
NCEA Level 2 or equivalent Retention of students in senior