NMSSA 2015: The Arts - Key Findings Publications
In 2015, the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) assessed student achievement at Year 4 and Year 8 in three areas of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) – the arts, English: listening and English: viewing. This report presents the key findings for the arts as a learning area.
Author(s): Educational Assessment Research Unit and New Zealand Council for Educational Research
Date Published: March 2017
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In 2015, the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) assessed student achievement at Year 4 and Year 8 in three areas of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) – the arts, English: listening and English: viewing. This report presents the key findings for the arts as a learning area. The report draws on the breadth of student achievement data from three assessment components and selected information from questionnaires to provide key findings across the arts learning area.
The NZC describes the arts as one learning area. However, the arts is multidisciplinary in nature and includes the disciplines of dance, drama, music and visual arts. Each discipline has its own distinctive body of knowledge, concepts and modes of enquiry, and its own forms or genres, styles, conventions and processes. The curriculum requires that students at Years 4 and 8 have access to learning in each of the arts disciplines. Even though each arts discipline is organised with four common strands in the curriculum, for students to make progress, they must demonstrate specific discipline-related knowledge and skills. The four common strands are: understanding the arts in context, developing practical knowledge in the arts, developing ideas in the arts, and communicating and interpreting in the arts. How the strands are incorporated in the learning process varies across disciplines and in emphasis across age bands.
This complexity posed particular challenges for the assessment of the arts in NMSSA. The NMSSA assessment programme sought to assess student achievement in the arts (covering the four disciplines and across the strands) so that a national picture of student achievement in the arts could be gained.
NMSSA used a two-step sampling procedure to select 100 schools at each year level and up to 27 students within each school. The nationally representative sample at each year level was made up of about 2,200 students (see Appendix, Technical Information 2015 report).
This report draws on the breadth of student achievement data from three assessment components and selected information from questionnaires to provide key findings across the arts curriculum.
Key findings about achievement in the arts
Achievement on the arts as a whole (NoTA)
School decile was strongly associated with student achievement on the NoTA scale at both Year 4 and Year 8. Students from low decile schools (deciles 1, 2 and 3) scored lower, on average, than those who attended high decile schools (deciles 8, 9 and 10) by about 16–17 NoTA units.
Māori and Pasifika students, who were more likely than other students to attend mid and low decile schools, scored lower, on average, than non-Māori and non-Pasifika students by 8–10 NoTA units and 6–7 NoTA units, respectively.
Performance ratings in dance, drama, music and visual arts
The performance ratings in each discipline assessed the strands, developing ideas in the arts and communicating in the arts. The table below shows the percentage of Year 4 and Year 8 students who achieved above the minimum score on each performance rating scale associated with achieving curriculum level 2 and level 4 objectives, respectively.
Year Level |
and Curriculum Level
|Percent of Students Performance in|
|Dance %||Drama %||Music %||
|Year 4, Level 2 and Above||73||51||48||82|
|Year 8, Level 4 and Above||68||51||53||66|
Practical tasks in music and visual arts
The NMSSA programme involved three practical music tasks that assessed the strand, developing practical knowledge in the arts. These were short applied activities presented by the computer. About two thirds of Year 8 students compared with about one third of Year 4 students were able to identify each time there was a chord change in a piece of music, and to consistently find a beat and sustain it. Over 90 percent of students at both year levels were able to accurately repeat a one-bar rhythm. About one half of students at Year 8 and 30 percent at Year 4 could accurately repeat a two-bar rhythm.
One practical drawing task was used to assess the visual arts. In the task, very few students at each year level could create a pencil drawing that showed a confident and sustained exploration of line, pattern or tone, or confidently transformed and played with ideas in an extended and sustained manner to create a fully resolved drawing of a winged creature.