PISA 2009: Our 21st century learners at age 15
This report provides a high level picture of New Zealand’s 15-year-old performance in reading literacy (main focus), mathematical literacy and scientific literacy. It compares New Zealand’s results with other top- and high-performing countries. In July and August 2009 4,643 New Zealand 15 year-old students from 163 New Zealand schools took part in PISA 2009.
Author(s): Maree Telford with Steve May [Ministry of Education]
Date Published: December 2010
Reading literacy (main focus)
- New Zealand 15-year-old students’ overall reading performance was substantially higher than the average for the 341 OECD countries.
- Of the 65 countries or economies participating in PISA 2009, only two OECD countries, and two non-OECD partner economies performed better2 than New Zealand. Four countries were similar and the other 56 countries performed at a significantly lower level.
- Close to one in six of New Zealand students were top-performing readers.
- The proportion of New Zealand students with a low level of reading proficiency was similar to that in two high-performing3 countries, but the other two high-performing and the four top-performing countries showed smaller proportions.
- Girls outperformed boys in every participating country. Among the top- and high-performing countries, New Zealand had one of the largest differences between girls and boys.
- There were Asian, Māori, Pākehā/European and Pasifika students who performed at the highest level of reading literacy. While Pākehā/European and Asian students were more likely to be at the higher end, Māori and Pasifika students were over-represented at the lower end.
- New Zealand students showed particular strength in reading non-continuous texts (such as graphs and tables). They performed well above the average for OECD countries in reading continuous texts (prose).
- Overall, New Zealand had high performance in the reading competencies accessing and retrieving and integrating and interpreting. New Zealand showed a particular strength in reflecting and evaluating texts.
- The reading performance of New Zealand students, on average, did not change between 2000 and 2009.
Mathematical literacy (minor focus)
- New Zealand students’ overall mathematical literacy performance was significantly higher than the average for the OECD countries.
- Five OECD countries and six non-OECD partner countries or economies performed better than New Zealand, four OECD countries were similar, and the other 49 countries had a significantly lower performance.
- New Zealand girls and boys achieved a similar mean mathematical literacy performance.
- New Zealand’s 15-year-olds mean mathematical literacy performance did not change between 2003 and 2009.
Scientific literacy (minor focus)
- New Zealand students’ overall scientific literacy performance was substantially higher than the average for the OECD countries.
- Only one OECD country and three non-OECD partner countries or economies achieved a higher mean scientific literacy score than New Zealand. Six OECD countries were similar, and the other 54 countries performed significantly lower.
- New Zealand girls and boys achieved a similar mean scientific literacy performance.
- New Zealand’s 15-year-olds mean performance in scientific literacy did not change between 2006 and 2009.
- Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia are new OECD member countries.
- Terms such as ‘better’, ‘larger’, ‘weaker’ or ‘smaller’ are used when results are statistically significant at the 0.05 level.
- Top-performing countries are those with a mean score that was statistically higher than New Zealand. Countries with a mean score that is not statistically different to New Zealand are referred to as high-performing countries.
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