Boys’ Achievement: A Synthesis of the Data

Publication Details

The focus of this report is on boys’ participation, engagement and achievement at different levels of education.

Author(s): Learning Policy Frameworks, Ministry of Education

Date Published: December 2007

Chapter 3 - School Disengagement

Regular school attendance is essential to encourage all young people to stay at school until at least the age of 16 and benefit from being there.  This chapter aims to create a picture of gender differences in student disengagement from school by considering information regarding truancy, early leaving exemptions, stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions.

Key Findings

  • Truancy rates have increased from 2004 to 2006 but there are no differences by gender.  However, the truancy rate is higher for Māori and Pasifika boys than NZ European and Asian boys.  This is also true for girls.
  • Males are stood-down and suspended more frequently than females.  Gender differences exist across all ethnic groupings but Māori and Pasifika students have the highest rates of stand-downs and suspensions and the largest gender difference.
  • The formal removal (exclusion and expulsion) of students from school is principally a male problem, with Māori and Pasifika males having the highest rates.
  • Males account for 62 % of all early leaving exemptions.  Māori males have the highest rate, with 20 % of Māori males granted early leave.  Males granted early leave are more likely to go into full-time employment than females granted early leave.

3.1 Truancy Rates

The results of the 2006 Attendance and Absence Survey show that both overall absence and truancy rates continue to rise.1  Nationally, truancy rates have increased from 3.4 to 4.1 % and absence rates have increased from 10.9 to 11.5 % between 2004 and 2006.  There was only a slight difference between the overall absence rate and truancy rates by gender.  The overall absence rate (including justified absences) is 11.2 % for males and 11.5 % for females, while the truancy rate (including unjustified and intermittent unjustified absences) is 4.1 % for males and 4.2 % for females. 

Figure 2 shows the intermittent and unjustified absence rates in 2006 by ethnic group and gender.  The percentage increase in all types of absence has increased most marked between 2004 and 2006 for Māori students.  Figure 2 shows that Māori and Pasifika students have higher absence rates than their NZ European and Asian counterparts.  However, within ethnic groupings there are slight differences by gender.  Pasifika and Asian students have the largest truancy gender differences at 0.7 percentage points, with males having higher rates than females.  NZ European and Māori students have smaller truancy gender differences but the truancy rates are higher for females than males.

Figure 2.  Intermittent and unjustified absence percentages by ethnic group and gender, and 2006

Image of Figure 2. Intermittent and unjustified absence percentages by ethnic group and gender, and 2006.

 
The frequent truant percentages (unjustifiably absent for three or more days within a week) are similar, with Māori and Pasifika students more likely to be frequent truants.  Overall, gender differences are not evident but within ethnic groups Asian and Pasifika males have higher rates than Asian and Pasifika females.  Whereas, Māori and NZ European females have higher rates then the males.

Analysis by school quintile shows that intermittent unjustified absence rates, unjustified absence rates and frequent truant rates all decrease with increasing school quintile.

3.2 Stand-Downs, Suspensions, Exclusions and Expulsions

In addition to students being truant from school, they can be stood-down, suspended, excluded or expelled.  Over the last seven years stand-down rates have increased, but suspension, exclusion and expulsion rates have decreased.  Figure 3 shows the stand-down and suspension rates per 1,000 students by gender from 2000 to 2006.  Across all years boys are stood-down and suspended more frequently than girls, with males accounting for 72 % of the total number of stand-downs and suspensions in 2006.

Māori and Pasifika students have higher stand-down and suspension rates than the other ethnic groupings (Figure 4), but gender differences exist within each grouping.  However, across ethnic groupings the gender difference varies.  The gender difference decreases in the order Māori>Pasifika>NZ European>Asian.  This is true for both stand-downs and suspensions.  Physical assault on other students or staff and continual disobedience are the two leading causes of stand-downs and suspensions. 

Figure 3.  Stand-down and suspension rates per 1,000 students by gender, 2000 to 2006

Image of Figure 3. Stand-down and suspension rates per 1,000 students by gender, 2000 to 2006.

 

Figure 4.  Age-standardised stand-down and suspension rates per 1,000 students by ethnic group and gender in 2006

Image of Figure 4. Age-standardised stand-down and suspension rates per 1,000 students by ethnic group and gender in 2006.

It is also found that in general, stand-down and suspension rates decrease with increasing school quintile.  Male students have a larger spread of stand-down and suspension rates across school quintiles (stand-down rate difference of 39.0 per 1,000 between quintile 1 and 5 schools for males, compared to 19.8 per 1,000 for females and a suspension rate difference of 11.1 per 1,000 between quintile 1 and 5 schools for males, compared to 3.0 per 1,000 for females).  The gender difference between stand-down rates (31.1 per 1,000 in quintile 1 schools compared to 11.9 per 1,000 in quintile 5 schools) and suspension rates (10.4 per 1,000 in quintile 1 schools and 2.3 per 1,000 in quintile 5 schools) is found to decrease with increasing quintiles.

The formal removal of students from school (exclusions and expulsions) is also principally a male problem.  In 2006, over three-quarters of exclusions and expulsions are for male students (77 % of exclusions and 80 % of expulsions).  Gender differences are apparent across all ethnic groupings, but once again Māori and Pasifika students have higher rates than the other ethnic groupings.

3.3 Early Leaving Exemptions

Students can be granted early leaving exemptions at age 15.  The Staying at School research2 found that early school leavers appear to have a lot in common, including disengagement, low achievement and a dysfunctional family.  Higher proportions of early leavers stated ‘push’ factors (elements inside the school that encourage students to leave) rather than ‘pull’ factors (elements outside the school that entice students to leave) as the main reasons for leaving school early.

Figure 5 shows the number of students per 1,000 who were granted early leaving exemptions by gender and ethnicity in 2005.3 Sixty-two percent of all early leaving exemptions were for males in 2005 with a rate of 88 per 1,000 compared to 55 per 1,000 for females.  Māori students have by far the largest rate of early leaving exemptions and the largest gender difference.  NZ European and Pasifika students have similar gender differences between early leaving exemption rates, but the gender difference for Asian students is minimal.

Figure 5.  Early leaving exemption rates by gender and ethnic group in 2005

Image of Figure 5. Early leaving exemption rates by gender and ethnic group in 2005.

When students are granted early leaving exemptions they have to state what they will be going on to do.  The destination of students granted early leaving exemptions by gender and ethnicity are shown in Figure 6 for 2005.  Males granted early leave are more likely to go into full-time employment than females, with NZ European males more likely to go into full-time employment and less likely to go on a training course than Māori, Pasifika or Asian males.

Figure 6.  The destination of students granted early leaving exemptions by gender and ethnic group in 2005

Image of Figure 6. The destination of students granted early leaving exemptions by gender and ethnic group in 2005.


Footnotes 

  1. L. Ng, Research Division, Ministry of Education (2007). Attendance, Absence and Truancy in New Zealand Schools, 2006.
  2. Consultation on “Staying at School’. (2006). Report prepared for the Ministry of Education by TNS and Monarch Consulting.
  3. EdCounts website, (2007). Early Leaving Exemptions.