PISA 2009: Pasifika Students Reading Workbook

Publication Details

This workbook examines key findings about the reading performance of New Zealand's Pasifika 15-year-olds from the Programme for International Student Assessment 2009 (PISA 2009) and explores their implications. In New Zealand, PISA was administered in English only. The purpose of this document is to encourage school leaders, teachers, families and communities to act on the evidence. Reflective questions based on the PISA reading findings are posed and The Pasifika Education Plan and a number of resources are referenced.

Author(s): Maree Telford and Ruth Tuomu'a, Research, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: November 2013


The workbook provides information about our Pasifika 15-year-olds’ reading habits in the print medium (reading enjoyment, time spent reading, what they read), the types of literary tasks that they do for school, the motivational practices and the scaffolding and structuring practices they experience in their English classes. It also provides information on their use and knowledge of effective learning strategies that are critical to their educational development. These findings are based on our Pasifika students’ responses to questions asked in the PISA 2009 student questionnaire.

Literacy knowledge and skills are necessary for learning in every subject area and for moving from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’. It becomes increasingly more difficult as learners progress through their schooling if they do not have strong literacy skills. The literacy and language demands on learning become increasingly complex, abstract and specialised within each subject as students progress through the curriculum, particularly at the secondary levels.

The findings from PISA are relevant for both primary and secondary school Pasifika students because PISA is designed to measure the cumulative learning at age 15-years – often referred to as ‘the cumulative yield’. The reading literacy skills of our Pasifika 15-year-olds on average, are weaker than their non-Pasifika peers (see p.19).

In this workbook each section includes a piece called What might the PISA 2009 findings mean for our school leaders, teachers, parents, families and communities of Pasifika students? It has been designed to stimulate discussion among our teachers and leaders of Pasifika students in primary and secondary schools, and among our Pasifika students’ parents, families and their communities about how to:

  • encourage our teachers to think reflectively on their teaching practices for our Pasfiika students; encourage our school leaders to think reflectively on their leadership role to support teachers; encourage our parents, families and communities to think reflectively about how they can support their child’s learning
  • nurture and encourage Pasifika students to have positive attitudes towards reading
  • encourage and support Pasifika students to access a wide range of materials to expand their knowledge and skills
  • provide opportunities for Pasifika students (particularly weaker readers) to tackle more complex and challenging ‘Pasifika connected’ literary texts and tasks
  • strengthen Pasifika students’ reading skills and strategies by using ‘Pasifika connected’ motivational and scaffolding practices
  • empower Pasifika students with the knowledge of the most efficient and effective strategies that enable and accelerate/advance their learning.

Where appropriate, reference to the Pasifika Education Plan 2013–2017 (Ministry of Education 2013) is also noted, along with other relevant resources.

The Pasifika Education Plan emphasises promoting closer alignment and compatibility between the learner’s educational environment and their home and/or cultural environment. This is so that communities, education providers and services collaborate using their individual, collective and cultural connections and affiliations.

The Pasifika Education Plan shows the importance of placing Pasifika students and their parents and families in the centre of learning.

This workbook builds on PISA 2009 Reading Workbook – Acting on the evidence: what might the PISA 2009 reading findings mean for our teachers and school leaders (Telford 2013) that focuses on the findings for New Zealand 15-year-olds overall. Some of its key messages are reinforced in the publication: PISA 2009: Our 21st century learners at age 15.

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