TIMSS 2015: New Zealand Year 9 Science results

Publication Details

This report describes the science 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 science, teaching activities that took place within science 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

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

The average (mean) science achievement of New Zealand Year 9 students in 2014/15 was the same as that of the students 20 years ago, and was also the same as in 2010/11. The gap between the high and low achievers (range) for Year 9 students in 2014/15 was much wider than in 2002/03; the change has occurred at both ends of the spectrum, with the top higher than in 2002/03, and the bottom lower than in 2002/03.

New Zealand Year 9 students' mean science achievement in 2014/15 was significantly[1] higher than 20 countries, but lower than the mean score of 14 countries.

CLASSIFYING NEW ZEALAND YEAR 9 STUDENTS AS LOW TO ADVANCED PERFORMERS

Ten percent of New Zealand Year 9 students were classified as advanced performers (reached the advanced benchmark), while 12 percent of students were classified as below low performers who did not perform simple science tasks.

New Zealand's proportion of Year 9 advanced performers was higher than the international median, as was the proportion of lower performers. However, high-performing countries had at least a fifth of their lower secondary students classified as advanced performers, and four percent or fewer classified as below low performers.

There were more Year 9 students who were lower achievers in 2014/15, compared with 2002/03. The proportion of Year 9 students reaching each benchmark has not changed significantly between 2010/11 and 2014/15.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF NEW ZEALAND YEAR 9 STUDENTS WITHIN SCIENCE

New Zealand Year 9 students showed greatest strength in biology and Earth science. Chemistry remains a relative weakness for New Zealand Year 9 students since 2010/11.

New Zealand Year 9 students did significantly better at applying and reasoning, compared to knowing in science.

The New Zealand Year 9 achievements were similar across all science content and cognitive domains between 2010/11 and 2014/15.

TIMSS AND THE NEW ZEALAND SCIENCE 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 science 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 the test was reduced to contain only those appropriate to New Zealand Year 9 students, the average student got half of the items correct.

New Zealand Year 9 students did best on biology and Earth science questions, but these were the areas of the curriculum least likely to be covered by their teachers.

SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT OF YEAR 9 BOYS AND GIRLS

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

20 years ago, while boys have not changed much since 1994/95.

Similar proportions of girls and boys reached each of the science achievement benchmarks in 2014/15. More girls reached the high science benchmark in 2014/15 compared to 2010/11, and fewer boys reached the low benchmark (more boys below low).

In 2014/15, girls did better in biology, while boys achieved higher on physics and Earth science, with no significant gender difference on chemistry and the cognitive domain areas of knowing, applying, and reasoning.

In 2014/15, girls saw a significant increase in the biology, applying and reasoning domain areas, compared to their counterparts in 2010/11. Boys on the other hand, saw a significant decrease in the chemistry and knowing domain areas, compared to those in TIMSS 2010/11.

SCIENCE 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 is a wide variation in science achievement within ethnic groupings, with advanced achievers and very low achievers in all ethnic groupings.

The average science achievement of Year 9 students classified as Other has decreased significantly since 2010/11; no significant changes were observed for Māori, Pasifika, Pākehā/European, or Asian students.

Māori had lower average science achievement than non-Māori. Similarly, Pasifika students had lower average science 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).

SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS OF YEAR 9 STUDENTS

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

Science achievement was higher, on average, for students in schools with more affluent students than those in schools with more economically disadvantaged students. The difference in science 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.

Contact Us

For more publication-related information, please email the: Information Officer Mailbox