“I am encouraged by the latest TIMSS results and I want to congratulate students, parents, teachers and schools for their hard work. I want to also make special mention of the Year 5 science students, who were the stand-out achievers for taking their score from 497 to 506,” Ms Parata says.
TIMSS shows that all other average scores have not only stabilised, but increased from the previous cycle. Year 9 girls markedly improved their scores, while Year 5 and Year 9 maths students scored 491 and 493 respectively. This result sits comfortably above the intermediate international benchmark of 475 and is climbing towards the high benchmark.
The report highlights that there is still more work to do to lift the achievement levels of Maori and Pasifika students which are still, on average, not as strong as their classmates.
“Although the gap between our top performers and our lowest has closed significantly in recent years, it is still too wide,” Ms Parata says.
“Next year, for the first time, our Government is targeting operational funding to students most at risk of educational underachievement as part of our investment to address this gap.”
TIMSS also reinforced the confident and positive attitude many children have towards schooling. Ninety per cent of Year 5 students reported they feel positive about school, teachers and their classmates. This was in-light of 60 per cent of those same students reporting that they had experienced some form of bullying behaviour monthly or more.
“The longstanding issue of bullying remains an ugly and unwanted presence in our schools, but I am optimistic for the future. There’s been a lot of work since TIMSS conducted its survey in 2014 to address bullying in schools. For example, new guidelines on cyberbullying have been made available to all schools, while the Harmful Digital Communications Act also came into force in 2015,” Ms Parata says.
“In 2017 the cross-sector Bullying Prevention Advisory Group will release a Bullying-free New Zealand School Toolkit, following on from its 2016 launch of a new bullying prevention website for schools and their communities, www.bullyingfree.nz.
“TIMSS has highlighted areas we are working hard to improve, but I am pleased it has reflected some of the hard work being done in other important areas of education”.
Highlights include student access to digital technologies being the highest out of all the TIMSS countries. Furthermore, the push to get more children into early childhood education is reaping gains with results showing that Year 5 students who had attended ECE for more than a year had higher levels of achievement.
“We are very close to hitting our Better Public Service Target of 98 per cent of our youngest learners engaging in ECE, and the data shows how important this is for future achievement”, Ms Parata says. Note to editors TIMSS is an international comparative study of student achievement. It is conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), an independent international co-operative of national research institutions and government agencies. Fifty-five countries participated in TIMSS 2015.