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Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed the results of an international study that shows New Zealand has consolidated its place in the top half of the OECD.

The three yearly cycle of the Programme of International Student Achievement (PISA) ranks 70 countries and education systems based on a one-day snapshot of 15 year olds across reading, mathematics and science.

“I am pleased to see that the fall in rankings recorded in the 2012 results has stabilised and improved. New Zealand is now notably ranked 10th for reading up from 13th, is up two places from 23rd to 21st for maths, and has significantly improved in science from 18th to 12th”,” Ms Parata says.

PISA (2015) also reports that New Zealand has one of the highest international proportions of all round top achievers in all three subjects at six per cent compared with the OECD average of four per cent.

Furthermore, 20 per cent of all New Zealand students assessed are among the top performers in at least one of these subjects. This is better than the OECD average of 15 per cent.

“I’m very proud of our students who achieved these excellent results, but it is balanced by my concern that we still have far too many in the lowest performing cohort and we see little shift in Maori and Pasifika from this group. So we have more to do,” Ms Parata says.

“PISA is an important contribution to the indicators that tell us how well we are doing compared to the rest of the world. Other education systems are striving just as hard as us to improve and PISA reflects that dynamic. This latest report shows that while New Zealand has stabilised and improved its ranking, other systems have fallen.

“Our science and reading rankings place New Zealand students above countries like Australia, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States,” Ms Parata says.

“PISA findings give us a snapshot at a point in time in 2015 telling us how students can apply what they know, and how that compares with other 15 year olds around the world on that day.

“It is part of a bigger picture, which in New Zealand includes NCEA. Last year was a record year for NCEA Level 1 achievement rates, which is the same year group as PISA.”

Similar to the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) released last week, PISA highlights that there is still more work to do to lift the achievement levels of all students, and Māori and Pasifika students in particular who, on average, have lower rates of achievement than other ethnic groups.

“We are making significant progress in both excellence and equity, and my work programme will continue to build on these next year. This will include directly targeting operational funding to students most at risk of educational underachievement, better and more consistent use of data, targeted professional learning and development and a review of decile funding,” Ms Parata says.

“We also want to help more of our students and teachers by extending the educational success we have in many of our schools into every school. Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako are key to this goal being achieved as they can turn best practise into common practise through the sharing of expert teaching, technical subject knowledge, leadership, and resources.

“Almost half a million kids are benefitting from their school being part of Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako. That’s 60 per cent of all New Zealand’s schools now working together to raise student achievement and provide a full pathway for students from early childhood through to senior secondary and tertiary education.”

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