PISA 2000: Assessing knowledge and skills for life: New Zealand summary

Publication Details

Published in December 2001, this report is a summary of the international results that focuses on the achievement of New Zealand students.

Author(s): Comparative Education Research Unit, Ministry of Education

Date Published: December 2001

Executive Summary

In 2000 New Zealand took part in an international study that assessed 15-year-old students in three key areas of knowledge and skill: reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy. This study, known as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), was commissioned by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). New Zealand was one of 32 countries that took part. Twenty-eight of these countries are members of the OECD.

The year 2000 was the first occasion on which PISA was administered. From now on it will be administered every three years. Although each area of knowledge and skill is assessed on each occasion, the focus of the study changes. In 2000 the focus was on reading literacy, in 2003 it will be on mathematical literacy and in 2006 it will be on scientific literacy. The main focus on reading literacy means that, as well as looking at how students have performed on average, we can also look at the different levels of proficiency they achieved in this assessment.

This report summarises the main results for New Zealand from the PISA 2000 study. This report is based on results published in the first international report on PISA entitled Knowledge and Skills for Life: First results from PISA 2000. The international report was prepared by the OECD.

Key Findings

In terms of its mean or average score, New Zealand is among the six best performing countries for each of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

  • Out of 32 countries we have the third highest mean scores for both reading literacy and mathematical literacy and the sixth highest mean score for scientific literacy. In terms of reading literacy, New Zealand has the highest proportion of its students at the top level of proficiency.
  • We have 19 percent of our students in the highest proficiency level (Level 5) for reading literacy. This is about 1 in 5 of our students compared with an international average of about 1 in 10 students. In terms of the spread of scores, New Zealand has a very wide distribution for each of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.
  • This is also the case in some other countries with high average performance like Australia and the United Kingdom.
  • The spread of scores is generally wide within individual schools in New Zealand. This means that each school is likely to be working with a diverse range of student ability.

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