School leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above
What We Have Found
Seventy-two percent of school leavers achieved NCEA Level 2 or above in 2011.
Updated: September 2012
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 2009 New Zealanders with no qualifications had an unemployment rate over 51% higher than those whose highest qualification was a school qualification (OECD 2011).
How We Are GoingNew Zealand schools are now using a new method of electronic student roll collection. This has enabled the collection of disaggregated school leaver data from 2008. For the 2011 school leaver indicators, this has allowed the identification of school leavers not identified prior to 2010 and for ethnic group analysis to take account of all the ethnic groups a student belongs to.
When accounting for these new inclusions, in 2011, 71.8% of all school leavers attained at least NCEA Level 2. Female school leavers (75.8%) achieved at a higher rate than their male counterparts (67.9%) and therefore were 12% more likely to attain at least NCEA Level 2.
When accounting for these new inclusions and looking at total response ethnic group, in 2011, Asian students had the highest proportion of school leavers attaining at least NCEA Level 2 (85.6%), which was 11% higher than the percentage of European/Pākehā (77.0%). Pasifika (63.1%) and Māori (51.3%) had the lowest rates.
Figure 1: Percentage of school leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above, by total response ethnic group (2011)
- Due to methodological changes in the allocation of attainment levels in 2004, for leavers achieving a qualification between little or no formal attainment and UE standard, the percentages of leavers with at least NCEA Level 2 in 2004 are not comparable with other years, and has been omitted.
- In order to allow a comparison over time this indicator uses the original definition that was used for the paper-based collection of data for 2003 to 2008, adjusted by the new definition 2009 numbers with prioritised ethnicity. The 2009 to 2011 rates are from actual new definition numbers.
For a trend comparison of recent years the school leavers for 2003 to 2008 needs to be adjusted using 2009 numbers to allow a fair comparison with 2009 to 2011. Since 2003, there has been a proportional increase of 49% with respect to those who attain at least NCEA Level 2, with 71.8% in 2011 compared to 48.1% in 2003.
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 111% between 2003 (24.2%) and 2011 (51.3%), and Pasifika school leavers, with an increase of 74% between 2003 (36.4%) and 2011 (63.1%). This can be compared to the European/Pākehā school leavers, who had a smaller proportional increase than their Māori and Pasifika counterparts of 45% between 2003 (53.1%) and 2011 (77.0%). This shows that for this measure the disparities between the different ethnic groups are reducing slightly.
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 2011, 89.0% of students from schools in the highest deciles (deciles 9 and 10) left school with at least an NCEA Level 2 qualification. This was 56% higher than the percentage for school leavers in deciles 1 and 2 (57.0%).
There is a large variation in the percentage of school leavers attaining at least an NCEA Level 2 amongst schools within each decile.
Where to Find Out More
To obtain other information about school leavers consider indicators:
- School leavers with NCEA Level 1 or above
- School leavers with a university entrance standard
- School leavers entering tertiary education.
The Ministry of Education has established an Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme to systematically identify, evaluate, analyse, synthesise and make accessible, relevant evidence linked to a range of learner outcomes. Evidence about what works for this indicator can be found in:
- Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis
- Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics/Pāngarau: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration.
- 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 (2011). Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD.