PISA 2009: Reading Workbook

Publication Details

This workbook examines key findings on New Zealand 15-year-old students' reading performance from the Programme for International Student Assessment 2009 (PISA 2009) and explores their implications.

Author(s): Maree Telford, Research Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: March 2013

Executive Summary

The workbook provides information about our students' reading habits in the print medium (reading enjoyment, time spent reading, what they read); the types of literary tasks they do for school; the motivational, structuring and scaffolding practices they experience in their English classes; and the ways in which parents or whānau can influence their child's reading skills. It also provides information about students' use and knowledge of effective learning strategies that are critical to their educational development.

Literacy knowledge and skills are necessary for learning in every subject area, and for moving from learning to read to reading to learn. As students progress through the curriculum, particularly at the secondary levels, the literacy and language demands on their learning become increasingly complex, abstract and specialised within each subject.

The findings for PISA are relevant for both primary and secondary school learners because PISA is designed to measure the cumulative learning at age 15-years - often referred to as 'the cumulative yield of education'.

In this workbook each section includes a piece called What might the PISA findings mean for teachers and school leaders? It has been designed to stimulate discussion among primary and secondary school teachers, leaders and other educators, and to promote the sharing of knowledge about how teachers and school leaders can:

  • promote and foster parent or whänau involvement in their child's learning
  • foster and nurture students to enjoy reading
  • encourage students to enjoy reading a wide range of materials
  • extend students' reading skills and knowledge (particularly weak readers) by using motivational practices and scaffolding students to tackle more complex and challenging texts and literacy tasks
  • empower students with knowledge of the most effective strategies that enable and promote
  • their learning.

The workbook has a focus on gender given that boys' reading literacy skills and knowledge are generally much weaker than girls', regardless of their ethnic grouping.


  • More detailed information that links to each section in this workbook is available in the companion report, PISA 2009: Reading to Learn: New Zealand 15-year-olds' reading habits, learning approaches and experiences of teaching practices Telford 2012).

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