Achievement of Students with Special Education Needs in Social Studies

Publication Details

In 2014, the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) assessed student achievement at Year 4 and Year 8 in two areas of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) – English: reading and social studies. This brief report presents the results for students with special education needs in social studies.

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

Date Published: July 2016

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Executive Summary

Students with special education needs made up 10 percent of the Year 4 NMSSA sample and 7 percent of the Year 8 sample. Findings are reported for the combined group of students with special education needs at Year 4 and Year 8. This group included students with 'high' and 'moderate' special education needs as well as students who were 'on referral'. More boys than girls in the study were identified as having special education needs at both year levels.

At Year 4, 50 percent of students with special education needs achieved above the minimum score on the Nature of Social Studies (NSS) assessment associated with achieving curriculum level 2 objectives and 7 percent at Year 8 achieved above the minimum score associated with achieving curriculum level 4 objectives. These percentages were lower than the corresponding percentages for all students in the respective national samples (63 percent and 38 percent).

The difference in average scale scores between students with special education needs in Year 4 and Year 8 was 28 scale score units. This was lower than the corresponding difference for all students in the national sample.

Overall, Year 4 students with special education needs had more positive attitudes to social studies than Year 8 students with special education needs. This pattern was similar to that for all students in the national samples. There was no relationship between Attitude to Social Studies scale scores and achievement on the NSS assessment for students with special education needs at Year 4 or Year 8.

Students reported how often they experienced a range of activities that related to learning social studies at school. As for the national samples, the majority of students with special education needs at both year levels reported experiencing each of the activities at least 'sometimes'. There was a statistically significant but modest correlation between achievement and students' responses at Year 4 to the statement 'My teacher tells me how well I am doing in social studies' and at Year 8 to the statement 'In social studies I learn things that connect with my own life'. Forty-two percent of Year 4 students with special education needs scored above the national average for all students in the Year 4 sample and 22 percent of Year 8 students with special education needs scored above the national average for all students in the Year 8 sample.

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