Mathematics literacy achievement: senior secondary schooling Publications
Seventy-eight percent of 15-year-olds in New Zealand demonstrated the basic mathematical knowledge and skills needed to meet real-life opportunities and challenges after they finish school (PISA 2018).
Author(s): Ministry of Education
Date Published: September 2021
Mathematical literacy of 15 year-old students.
Why This Is Important
Mathematical literacy provides a foundation for skills that are useful in professional contexts and, more generally, in daily life. Mathematical literacy influences attainment at senior secondary school.
Mathematical attainment at senior secondary level contributes to preparation for successful participation in tertiary education and the ability to contribute to and participate in a changing labour market; and an increasingly knowledge-based society. Attainment level is also related to PISA measure of individual well-being.
How We Are Going
Results from PISA 2018 show that New Zealand continues to perform above the OECD average in mathematics, but performance has dropped significantly since 2003 (down 29 points). Most of this decline took place between 2009-2012 (-20 points). There has been no significant change since 2012 (Figure 1).
Figure 1. New Zealand mathematics score in 2018 was similar to 2012 and 2015 but lower than in 2003 (PISA)
Note: Error bars on the graph provide a 95% confidence interval for the estimate of the average
PISA uses proficiency levels to describe the range of mathematical skills and knowledge assessed, with Level 1 at the low end of the scale and Level 6 at the top end of the scale. High performers in mathematics are those students who reach Level 4 and above. Top performers in mathematics are those students who reach Level 5 and above.
Figure 2 shows that over one-fifth (22%) of New Zealand 15-year-olds performed below Level 2 proficiency, the baseline level at which students begin to demonstrate the competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations which require mathematical skills. The OECD average was 24%.
Twelve percent of New Zealand 15-year-olds were top performers (Level 5 and above), meaning they demonstrated advanced mathematical thinking and reasoning. The OECD average was 11%.
Figure 2. In 2018, the proportion of students at each proficiency level was the same as in 2015 (PISA)
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