Wānangatia te Putanga Tauira | National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement: Mathematics and Statistics 2013

Publication Details

In 2013, the dual focus for the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) was mathematics and statistics, and health and physical education. A nationally representative sample of approximately 2000 students at Year 4 and Year 8 took group-administered paper-and-pencil assessments in mathematics and statistics, and responded to questions about their attitudes, learning experiences and support for learning. A sub-sample of approximately 800 students at each of these year levels, also took part in individual assessments focussed on aspects of learning in mathematics and statistics.

Author(s): Education Assessment Research Unit and New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

Date Published: May 2015

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Executive Summary

The National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) – Wānangatia Te Putanga Tauira – is designed to assess and understand student achievement across the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) at Year 4 and Year 8 in New Zealand's English-medium state schools. The main purposes of NMSSA are:

  • to provide a snapshot of student achievement against the NZC;
  • to identify factors that are associated with achievement;
  • to assess strengths and weaknesses across the curriculum;
  • to measure change in student achievement over time; and
  • to provide high quality, robust information for policy makers, curriculum planners and educators.

NMSSA began in 2012 and is carried out over a five-year cycle. It focusses on two learning areas of the NZC each year. During the first cycle we are setting the baseline for measuring change in student achievement over time in subsequent cycles. This report is the full technical report of the national level findings from NMSSA prepared for the Ministry of Education.

In 2013, NMSSA assessed student achievement in mathematics and statistics, and health and physical education. Data collection was carried out in Term 3. This report focuses on mathematics and statistics.

  The NZC expresses learning expectations in mathematics and statistics as achievement objectives that describe the mathematical and statistical knowledge and skills students should be able to display as they progress from one curriculum level to the next. Each level builds on the one before, as well as introducing new ideas and applications. Achievement objectives are presented across three strands: number and algebra; geometry and measurement; and statistics.

NMSSA assessed achievement in mathematics and statistics using two measures: the Knowledge and Application of Mathematical and Statistical Ideas (KAMSI) group-administered assessment and the Mathematical and Statistical Proficiencies (MSP) individual-based assessment. Performance on the KAMSI measure, which was completed by a larger sample of students, was aligned to the levels of the NZC. Other data related to students', teachers', and principals' views of teaching and learning in mathematics and statistics were also collected via questionnaires and student interviews.

Results from NMSSA's 2013 study in mathematics and statistics suggest a mismatch at Year 8 between student achievement levels and curriculum expectations. The curriculum expectation at Year 8 is that students will be working solidly at Level 4. About 41 percent of Year 8 students achieved at Level 4 or higher on the KAMSI assessment. An analysis of KAMSI items indicates that in general, Year 8 students are not having the success expected on Level 4 items involving fractions, decimals, percentages, and pro-numerals.

Performance at Year 4 was more in-line with curriculum expectations. About 81 percent of students achieved within the Curriculum Level 2 band or higher. The expectation for students at Year 4 is to achieve solidly in this band.

There is considerable variation in performance at both Year 4 and Year 8, as well as some overlap between score distributions for each year levels.

Socio-economic factors were strongly associated with performance. On average, students from low decile schools (deciles 1, 2 and 3) scored lower than those who attended high decile schools (deciles 8, 9 and 10). On both achievement measures and at both year levels the difference in average scores was equivalent to the amount of progress expected over about two years of schooling. Māori and Pasifika students, who as a group were more likely than other students to attend mid and lower decile schools, on average scored lower than students from other ethnic groups. A regression analysis did indicate that score differences related to ethnicity could be detected after decile was taken into account. When scale score differences between Year 4 and Year 8 are taken as a proxy for progress, there is some indication that Pasifika students have made less 'progress' on average than non-Pasifika students. On average, Asian students scored more highly and made more 'progress' than other students.

The study provides some evidence that non-cognitive factors related to attitudes and beliefs are associated with achievement. Students with a positive view of their own general ability in mathematics and statistics, and of mathematics itself tended to score more highly on average. There was also some indication that students who subscribed to the view that learning potential in mathematics was malleable, rather than fixed scored higher on average. Students from higher decile schools had performance expectations in mathematics and statistics that were more closely aligned with their results in NMSSA than students from lower decile schools.

A high proportion of teachers at both year levels indicated that they felt confident in their teaching, and that they were able to engage and meet the needs of their students. Very few teachers reported that they did not enjoy maths or like teaching it.

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