TIMSS 2018/19: Science Year 9 Publications
This report describes the science achievement of Year 9 students in TIMSS 2018/19. 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): Educational Measurement and Assessment, Ministry of Education.
Date Published: December 2020
Science achievement of New Zealand Year 9 students since 1994 - 25 years of trends
- The average (mean) science achievement of New Zealand Year 9 students in 2019 was lower than that of the students 25 years ago in 1994, and was also lower than 2014.
- New Zealand Year 9 students' mean science achievement in 2019 was significantly1 higher than 19 countries, but lower than the mean score of 16 countries.
Classifying New Zealand Year 9 students as low to advanced performers
- Eight percent of New Zealand Year 9 students were classified as advanced performers (reached the advanced benchmark), while 18 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. The New Zealand proportion of those not reaching the low benchmark was the same as the international median. However, the top five high-performing countries had at least 16 percent of their lower secondary students classified as advanced performers, and six percent or fewer classified as below low performers.
- There were more Year 9 students who were lower achievers in 2019, compared with 2002. The proportion of Year 9 students reaching each benchmark is significantly lower than in 2014.
Strengths and weaknesses of New Zealand Year 9 students within science
- New Zealand Year 9 students showed greatest strength in Earth science and Physics. Chemistry remains a relative weakness for New Zealand Year 9 students. The average scores for Biology and Chemistry are significantly lower than 2014.
- New Zealand Year 9 students did significantly better at applying and reasoning, compared to knowing in science but the average score for each cognitive domain is lower than 2014.
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 score was similar to the average for all questions and New Zealand’s position relative to other countries remained the same.
- New Zealand Year 9 students did best on Earth science questions, but this was the area 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. Both girls and boys had a similar drop in average score since 2014. Year 9 girls had similar achievement to 1994 but boys are significantly lower than 1994.
- In 2019 boys achieved higher on physics and Earth science, with no significant gender difference on biology and chemistry and the cognitive domain areas of knowing, applying, and reasoning.
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.
- The word 'significant' is used to describe statistical significance. Statistical tests show that these results are 95% certain.
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