Reading literacy achievement: senior secondary school Publications
Eighty-one percent of 15-year-olds in New Zealand demonstrated the basic reading literary skills needed to meet real-life opportunities and challenges after they finish school (PISA 2018).
Author(s): Ministry of Education.
Date Published: September 2021
Reading literacy of 15-year-old students.
Why This Is Important
Reading literacy achievement at the senior secondary level contributes to the preparation for successful participation in tertiary education or further training. Evidence also shows that students who achieve at a higher level generally experience higher levels of well-being (as measured by PISA).
How We Are Going
New Zealand continues to perform above the OECD average in reading, but performance has dropped significantly overall since 2000 (down 23 points). A large part of this decline occurred between 2009 and 2012 (down 9 points), see Figure 1.
Figure 1. Since 2000, New Zealand’s reading score in PISA has declined significantly but has remained stable since 2006 (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 reading skills and knowledge assessed, with Level 1c at the low end of the scale and Level 6 at the top end of the scale. High performers in reading are those students who reach Level 4 and above. Top performers in reading are those students who reach Level 5 and above .
In 2018, 81% of 15-year-old learners/ākonga were at or above the PISA baseline for reading (Level 2 or above); this is higher than the OECD average of 77%.
Since 2000, however, fewer students are reaching this benchmark (from 86% in 2000 to 81% in 2018). Students who are below Level 2 demonstrate relatively poor reading skills, which are unlikely to support their learning. The increase in the proportion of learners/ākonga below the baseline for reading (below Level 2) is concerning.
The proportion of top performers (Level 5 and above) declined from 19% in 2000 to 13% in 2018. The proportion of very advanced readers (Level 6) has stayed constant at around 2 to 3% since 2009, when this level was introduced (Figure 2).
Figure 2. The proportion of students below Level 2 in reading has increased significantly since 2000, whilst the proportion of students working at or above Level 5 has decreased (PISA).
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