18-year-olds with a minimum of NCEA Level 2 or equivalent

What We Have Found

From 2016 to 2017 the percentage of 18-year-olds with a minimum of NCEA Level 2 or equivalent has increased by 0.3 percentage points, reaching 84.9%.

Date Updated : September 2018

Indicator Description

Percentage of 18-year-olds with the equivalent of an NCEA Level 2 qualification or above.

Why This Is Important

A Level 2 qualification gives people opportunities in terms of further education and employment, contributing to better health outcomes and a better quality of life.  The attainment of an upper secondary school qualification is linked to labour force status and incomes. In 2014, New Zealand adults without a qualification at level 2 or higher had an unemployment rate 45% higher than those with such a qualification (Statistics New Zealand 2014).

How We Are Going

In 2017, 84.9% of all 18-year-olds attained the equivalent of NCEA Level 2 or above, up 0.3 percentage points from 2016 (84.6%).  2017 marks the seventh year of measuring 18-year-old achievement at NCEA level 2 or equivalent. The achievement rate has increased each year. There has been a 10.6 percentage point increase since 2011, which equates to an average annual increase of around 1.5 percentage points.

Figure 1: Percentage of 18-year-olds with at least NCEA level 2 or equivalent (2011-2017)

Ethnic Group

Total response ethnicity collection involves counting people who identify with more than one ethnic group in each of those ethnic groups. For the New Zealand total individuals are counted only once. When looking at ethnicity in this way, Asian 18-year-olds had the highest proportion attaining the equivalent of NCEA Level 2 or above in 2017 (90.9%), which was 2.5 percentage points higher than European/Pākehā (88.4%). Pacific and Māori 18-year-olds had the lowest attainment rates, with 78.7% and 75.6% respectively.

From 2016 to 2017, across nearly all ethnic groups there were increases in the proportion of 18-year-olds who attained the equivalent of NCEA Level 2 or above. Māori saw the highest increase (1.3 percentage points), followed by European/Pākehā (0.4 percentage points), Asian (0.1 percentage points) and Pacific (remaining the same).

Figure 2: Percentage of 18-year-olds with at least NCEA level 2 or equivalent, by total response ethnic group (2011-2017)

Gender

In 2017 female 18-year-olds (87.2%) achieved at a higher rate than their male counterparts (82.7%). Female 18-year-olds achieved Level 2 or above at a rate 4.5 percentage points above their male counterparts. This has decreased from a difference of 5.2 percentage points in 2012. From 2016 to 2017 the gap remained the same.

Figure 3: Percentage of 18-year-olds with at least NCEA level 2 or equivalent, by gender (2011-2017)

School Leaving Age

The earlier a learner leaves school the less likely they are to attain a level 2 qualification. Most learners need to stay in school until they are 17-years-old to successfully complete the equivalent of NCEA Level 2 or above. In 2017, 16.2 percent of the people who turned 18 left the school system before they turned 17 (down from 21.1 percent in 2011). Of those who turned 18 in 2016 and left the school system before they reached their 17th birthday, 51.7% had attained a minimum of NCEA Level 2 or equivalent. In comparison, of the 18-year-olds who remained at schools until at least their 17th birthday, 91.4% attained a minimum of NCEA Level 2 or equivalent.

Figure 4: Percentage of 18-year-olds with at least NCEA level 2 or equivalent, by age they left school (2011-2017)

References

Evidence about what works for this indicator can be found in:


The Ministry of Education has established an Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme to systematically identify, evaluate, analyse, synthesise and make accessible, relevant evidence linked to a range of learner outcomes. Please visit BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme to find out more.

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