Science literacy achievement: senior secondary schooling Publications
Eighty-two percent of 15-year-olds in New Zealand demonstrated the basic scientific 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
Scientific literacy of 15 year-old students.
Why This Is Important
Scientific literacy achievement at the 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 individual well-being.
How We Are Going
Results from PISA 2018 show that New Zealand continues to perform above the OECD average in science but there has been no significant shift in New Zealand’s science performance since 2012. Since 2006 the score has declined by 22 points, with most of this decline occurring between 2009 and 2012 (-16 points), see Figure 1.
Figure 1. New Zealand’s science performance has dropped since 2006 but has remained at a similar level to 2012 and 2015 (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 scientific skills and knowledge assessed, with Level 1b at the low end of the scale and Level 6 at the top end of the scale. High performers in science are those students who reached Level 4 and above. Top performers in science are those students who reached Level 5 and above.
In 2018, 82% of 15-year-old learners/ākonga were at or above Level 2 proficiency in PISA, considered the baseline level at which students begin to demonstrate the competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations which require science skills (Figure 2); this is higher than the OECD average of 78%.
Around one-fifth (18%) of New Zealand students performed below Level 2 proficiency. The OECD average was 22%.
Eleven percent of New Zealand students were top performers in science (Level 5 and above), meaning they demonstrated advanced scientific thinking and reasoning. The OECD average was 7%.
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