Science achievement: middle schooling
What We Have Found
New Zealand is continuing its high performance in science achievement at the middle schooling level, with the mean performance significantly higher than the international mean.
Date Updated: February 2005
Science scores for Year 9 students.
Why This Is Important
Science is a major influence on many aspects of children's daily lives at play, at school and at home. Science education involves developing skills and knowledge to investigate the living, physical, material, and technological components of the environment and to make sense of them in logical and creative ways.
This indicator draws on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments that included questions on the classification of living things, human health, uses of water, rusting, common energy sources, light, the weather, and changes in the environment. The indicator provides information about the cumulative health of science education after primary and intermediate school, and towards the end of the first year of secondary schooling.
How We Are Going
New Zealand's mean science achievement did not change over the 8-year period, although a small non-significant increase in mean achievement was observed from 1998 to 2002. However, the science mean of 520 for Year 9 students in 2002 was significantly above the international country average of 474 for the 46 participating countries.
|Year||Mean (Standard Error)|
|1994||497 (5.6)||524 (6.1)||511 (4.9)|
|1998||506 (5.4)||513 (7.0)||510 (4.9)|
|2002||515 (4.8)*||525 (6.7)||520 (5.0)|
The Year 9 girls' mean increased significantly over the 8-year period with girls achieving on average 18 score points higher than their female counterparts did in 1994. Year 9 boys' mean achievement remained the same over this period. The significant increase in girls' achievement has resulted in there being no significant gender difference in science achievement. This compares with the results for 1994 when boys did significantly better than girls. Just 11 of the 46 countries participating in TIMSS-02 reported no significant gender differences in science achievement.
A significantly higher proportion of Year 9 students in New Zealand reached the Low and Intermediate international benchmarks for science in 2002 than did the Year 9 cohorts in 1994 or 1998, with increases of about 5 and 6 percentage points respectively.
|International Benchmarks||New Zealand Students (%)||International Mean (%)|
Year 9 students performed significantly above the international mean for each of the 5 science content areas (Earth Science, Life Science, Physics, Chemistry, and Environmental Science). Whereas in previous cycles Physics has been identified as an area of relative weakness for Year 9 students, closer analysis of the 2002 results revealed that New Zealand students showed a relative weakness in Chemistry. This shift was probably associated with a significant increase in achievement in Physics since 1998. There was no area of science that was found to be an area of strength. Significant gender differences which favoured Year 9 boys were observed in Earth Science and Environmental Science.
- Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- Chamberlain, G. with Chamberlain, M. and Walker, M. (2001). Trends in Year 9 Students' Mathematics and Science Achievement: results from New Zealand's participation in the repeat of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study. Wellington, Ministry of Education.
- Ministry of Education (2004). Mathematics and Science Achievement in New Zealand: Year 9 Summary Report. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- Mullis, I.V.S., et al (2004). TIMSS 2003 International Science Report. Findings from IEA's Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study at the Fourth and Eighth Grades. Boston, Massachusetts: International Study Centre, Boston College.