Retention of students in senior secondary schools
What We Have FoundIn 2012, 81.4% of students remained at school to their 17th birthday. Retention rates have been gradually increasing since 2009 but differences remain between girls and boys, and Māori and non-Māori.
Date Updated: July 2013
Percentage of students staying on at school to age 17.
Why This Is ImportantCompletion of upper secondary education is associated with a range of economic and social benefits both in New Zealand and across the OECD. Retention to senior secondary schooling is linked to higher levels of skills and knowledge required for participation in our increasingly knowledge-based society and the wider global community (OECD, 2013). OECD education ministers have emphasized quality education for all (OECD, 2001) and with improving standards and average achievements, it is likely to be a moving target over the next generations (Hutmacher, 2001).
According to Norton et al. (2000) the risk of unemployment for those with no school qualifications or only Year 11 qualifications is higher than for those with Year 12 or Year 13 qualifications. The positive effect of each additional year of schooling on incomes has been estimated to range from 5 to 10%.
Lashlie (2005) found that one of the factors important for successful school leaving for boys was merely staying at school until the end of the Year 13. This is because it takes boys longer to achieve a high level of maturity and self-management than girls, and that boys’ schools in particular can “hold boys steady while the chaos of adolescence sorts itself”. Simply keeping boys at school (by making school relevant) until they have decided what they want their next step in life to be can reduce the chances of a boy “arriving at a prison gate”.
How We Are Going
In 2012, 81.4% of students stayed at school to the age of 17. This is an increase from 80.6% in 2011.
In 2012, Māori students had the lowest proportion of students remaining at school to age 17 (66.1%). This compares with a retention rate of 79.4% for Pasifika and 84.1% for European/Pākehā. Asian students had the highest retention rate (93.1%).
While Māori students have displayed a 5.5% increase in the proportion of 17-year-old students remaining at school since 2009, the gap between Māori and non-Māori has not shown any clear signs of closing in the last 4 years.
Figure 1: Percentage of school leavers aged 17 or above (2009 to 2012)
Girls are more likely to stay at school until 17 than boys (83.9% compared to 78.9%). The size of this gender gap has decreased in 2012, from 6.3 percentage points in 2011 to 4.9 percentage points in 2012. This is because of an increase in the proportion of 17-year-old boys remaining at school, and no change in the proportion of girls.
There is a clear correlation between decile (the socio-economic mix of the school the student attended) and the percentage of school leavers aged 17 or above. Schools in the highest quintile (deciles 9 and 10) draw their students from communities with the lowest degree of socio-economic disadvantage. Students from these schools are 1.3 times more likely to remain at school until the age of 17 than students from the lowest quintile (deciles 1 and 2).
Figure 2: Percentage of school leavers aged 17 or above, by school quintile (2012)
There is a large variation in the percentage of 17-year-old students remaining at school amongst schools within each decile.
- Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- Hutmacher, W. Introduction. In W. Hutmacher, D. Cochrane, N. Bottani. (2001). In Pursuit of Equity in Education: Using International Indicators to Compare Equity Policies. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Lashlie, C. (2005). He'll Be OK: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men. Auckland: HarperCollins.
- Norton, P., Sanderson, K., Booth, T., & Stroombergen, A. (2000). A Literature Review of the Effect of School Resourcing on Educational Outcomes. Report to the Ministry of Education. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- OECD (2001). Schooling for Tomorrow: What Schools for the Future? Paris: OECD.
- OECD (2013). Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD.