Attendance in New Zealand Schools in 2009

Publication Details

This survey on attendance was carried out in June 2009. The survey aims to inform the Ministry’s work to improve student engagement in education.

Author(s): Marian Loader and Tracey Ryan, Education Information & Analysis Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: February 2010

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Analysis of Student Factors

Gender of Student, Year Level, and Absence

There is no significant difference between males and females in overall absence rates (11.4% for males and 11.7% for females) and total unjustified absence rates (4.1% for males and 4.2% for females). Figure 3 looks at gender differences in relation to absence by current year level.

Figure 3: Absence rates by gender and current year level [click image to enlarge]Image of Figure 3: Absence rates by gender and current year level.

Figure 3 shows that absence rates for males and females track each other closely at all year levels. Noticeable is the rapid increase in the unjustified and intermittent unjustified absence rates for both males and females from year 9 to year 13.

From years 10-12, absence rates for females move to slightly higher levels than for males.

The patterns observed with year level in the 2009 survey mirror those observed in the 2006 and 2004 results. In 2009 there are slight increases observed in absence rates in years 7 and 8.  In previous surveys this trend was probably present but missed because of the denominator used in these surveys. 

The 2009 survey is the first survey to use current year level in both the numerator and denominator. In previous surveys absences are recorded against students’ current year level and ratios calculated using the July roll data of the same year in the denominator (which has funding year level).  The two definitions have approximately the same number of students for most year levels but funding year level underestimates the number of students in year 0/1 and over estimates the number of year 7 and 8 students. 

Absence and Ethnicity

Table 3 shows the absence rates for students by ethnic group in 2006 and 2009.  None of the changes are statistically significant but some small changes have been observed.

Unjustified absences and Intermittent unjustified absence rates have increased slightly for students in most ethnic groups but they have improved slightly for Māori students.

The justified absence rate has increased slightly for Pasifika students.

In both years, Māori and Pasifika students have approximately double the rate of unjustified absence when compared with NZ European and Asian students. 

Table 3: Absence and ethnicity
EthnicityAbsence rate (%)Justified absence rate (%)
Unjustified absence rate  (%)Intermittent unjustified  absence rate (%)
NZ European10.
National Average11.511.
  1. Other* = Can not interpret increases in the Other ethnicity grouping as student’s with unknown ethnic background tend to be grouped in Other.