TIMSS 2015: New Zealand Year 9 Maths results

Publication Details

This report describes the mathematics achievement of Year 9 students in TIMSS 2014/15. Analyses of achievement by sub-groupings (such as gender and ethnicity) and background information are also presented and comparisons are made with New Zealand across cycles and also with other countries. Characteristics of teachers, including their preparedness to teach mathematics, teaching activities that took place within mathematics lessons, resources, and teacher attitudes and perceptions, as well as the school climate for learning, are explored.

Author(s): Robyn Caygill, Vafa Hanlar and Sunita Singh, Comparative Education Research Unit, Ministry of Education

Date Published: November 2016

Introduction

MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT OF NEW ZEALAND YEAR 9 STUDENTS SINCE 1994 – 20 YEARS OF TRENDS

The average (mean) mathematics achievement of New Zealand Year 9 students in 2014/15 was statistically the same as that of the students 20 years ago, and not significantly[1] different from 1998/99, 2002/03, and 2010/11.

The gap between the high and low achievers (range) for Year 9 students was wider in 2014/15 than in 2010/11, but not as wide as 1998/99.

Although New Zealand's mean achievement in mathematics has not changed since 1994/95, many other countries have increased.

New Zealand Year 9 students' mean mathematics achievement in 2014/15 was significantly higher than 18 countries, but lower than the mean score of 17 countries, including all the other predominantly English-speaking countries who participated

CLASSIFYING NEW ZEALAND YEAR 9 STUDENTS AS LOW TO ADVANCED PERFORMERS

Six percent of New Zealand Year 9 students were classified as advanced performers (reached the advanced benchmark), while 15 percent were classified as below low performers, who did not perform simple mathematics tasks.

Compared with other countries, New Zealand was around the middle when considering the proportion of advanced performers, as well as the proportion of lower performers.

High-performing countries had more than one-third of their lower secondary students classified as advanced performers, and three percent or fewer classified as below low performers.

The proportions of Year 9 students reaching each classification in 2014/15 were not significantly different from 2002/03, or 2010/11. There has been an increase in lower achievers since 1994/95, with only 11 percent below the low benchmark in 1994/95, compared with 15 percent in 2014/15.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF NEW ZEALAND YEAR 9 STUDENTS WITHIN MATHEMATICS

At the Year 9 level in mathematics, New Zealand students showed greatest strength at statistics questions (called data and chance in TIMSS), compared to algebra and geometry. This was a similar pattern to 2010/11.

Year 9 students are also likely to do better at reasoning in mathematics, followed by applying their knowledge, while showing less strength at knowing the mathematical concepts, procedures, and facts.

There was no change between 2010/11 and 2014/15 across the mathematics content and cognitive domains.

TIMSS AND THE NEW ZEALAND MATHEMATICS CURRICULUM

Many New Zealand Year 9 students were working at level 4 of the curriculum by the end of the year, rather than level 5. Not surprisingly, those students in classes working at higher levels had higher achievement.

When the TIMSS test was compared to curriculum expectations for New Zealand Year 9 students, there were questions considered more advanced than our curriculum. More advanced questions help to identify advanced achievers. However, when analysis reduced the test to contain only those appropriate to New Zealand Year 9 students, the average student got just under half of the items correct.

New Zealand Year 9 students did best on data and chance questions, followed by number questions, the areas of the curriculum most likely to be covered by their teachers.

MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT OF YEAR 9 BOYS AND GIRLS

Year 9 boys and girls had the same mathematics achievement as each other, on average, but boys had a wider range than girls.

Boys' average mathematics achievement has not changed much since 1994/95. Girls had a significant decrease between 2002/03 and 2010/11, followed by a significant increase between 2010/11 and 2014/15 – back to the same level as 2002/03. More girls reached the high and advanced mathematics achievement benchmarks in 2014/15, compared to 2010/11.

MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT, ETHNICITY, AND LANGUAGE OF THE HOME OF YEAR 9 STUDENTS

One-fifth of all Year 9 students identified themselves as belonging in more than one ethnic grouping; the groupings were Māori, Pasifika, Pākehā/European, Asian, and Other. There was a wide variation in mathematics achievement within ethnic groupings, with advanced achievers and very low achievers in all ethnic groupings.

There were significant changes in average mathematics achievement between 2010/11 and 2014/15 for some groupings; Pākehā/European girls' average increased, while the average of those students classified as Other decreased. The average mathematics achievement for Māori, Pasifika, and Pākehā/European boys, and Asian students, did not change significantly.

Māori had lower average mathematics achievement than non-Māori. Similarly, Pasifika Year 9 students had lower average mathematics achievement than non-Pasifika. There was evidence that this achievement gap narrows when socio-economic factors are taken into account.

One in five Year 9 students regularly spoke a language other than English at home (most also spoke English).

MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS OF YEAR 9 STUDENTS

Students in homes with many resources for learning had higher mathematics achievement, on average, than those whose homes had fewer resources.

Mathematics achievement was higher, on average, for Year 9 students in schools with more affluent students than those in schools with more economically disadvantaged students. The difference in mathematics achievement between these two groupings within New Zealand was a lot higher than the international average.

Footnote

  1. The word 'significant' is used to describe statistical significance. Statistical tests show that these results are 95% certain.

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