PISA 2018: Reading in New Zealand - Reading achievement and experiences of 15-year-olds

Publication Details

Reading literacy is the foundation for achievement across nearly all subjects and for meaningful participation in society throughout life. This report summarises the PISA 2018 reading achievement story in New Zealand and explores major contributors to student success in reading literacy, such as students’ reading habits and reading strategies, instructional methods and opportunities students are given to develop as readers, as well as digital reading practices.

Author(s): Emma Medina with Alexandra McGregor, Educational Measurement and Assessment, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: December 2019

Key Results

  • New Zealand’s reading literacy in 2018 was above the OECD average, similar to 2015, but lower than 2000-2009.
  • Girls and socio-economically advantaged students continued to significantly outperform boys and disadvantaged students in reading literacy.
  • The majority of students reported their English teachers exhibit behaviours that are conducive to learning. New Zealand students reported higher levels of teacher support, feedback, enthusiasm, adaptive instruction, and use of reading engagement strategies than the OECD average. In contrast, students experienced slightly lower rates of teacher-directed instruction from their teachers than the OECD average.
  • Similar to the OECD, there has been a decline in reading for enjoyment in New Zealand. More students said they ready only if they have to and read less often, and fewer students read fiction, non-fiction, magazines and newspapers regularly. At the same time, there have been increases in almost all online reading activities.
  • New Zealand students continued to experience worse behavioural climates in their English classes when compared to the OECD average, with some negative behaviours like ‘noise and disorder’ increasing since 2009.
  • New Zealand was a top user of digital devices for learning compared to the OECD and most English-language countries. Since 2009 there has been a dramatic rise in the use of digital devices in English lessons.
  • Compared to girls, fewer boys read for enjoyment and fewer were aware of effective reading strategies. Boys also reported receiving teacher-directed instruction and feedback from teachers more often than girls, and lower enthusiasm from their teachers.
  • Compared to socio-economically disadvantaged students, advantaged students reported greater enthusiasm, academic support, and engaging and adaptive instruction from teachers. Disadvantaged students tended to enjoy reading less, be assigned shorter texts, used digital devices less for schoolwork and were also less aware of effective reading strategies.
  • Compared to the OECD, New Zealand students viewed themselves as slightly more competent readers, but also perceived reading as more difficult. Students’ awareness of effective reading strategies was slightly below the OECD average, and has declined slightly since 2009.
  • A higher proportion of New Zealand students were assigned longer texts, digital texts, and had access to literacy-related extracurricular activities than students in the OECD on average. Six in ten students reported being assigned a novel length text (100 pages or more) in the current school year.

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