Wednesday December 15
NZEI Pleased At Big Improvement In Maths And Science At Year 5
NZEI Te Riu Roa, which represents teachers, principals and support staff in primary sector schools, is pleased to see a
“significant improvement” in the maths and science achievement of 10 year-old New Zealand students, in an international
study released today.
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessed the achievement in maths and science of 10
year olds in 25 countries. In New Zealand 3800 Year 5 students were assessed in late 2002.
The increase in the average maths score for New Zealand 10 year olds was the second highest among the countries involved
in the study since the first TIMSS assessment was done eight years ago. The improvement in science was the third highest
increase in the study.
The average New Zealand maths score was similar to Australia and Scotland and was at the level of the international
average. The average science score was significantly above the international average and ranked along side Australia,
the Netherlands and Russia.
“It is pleasing to see the significant improvement in the achievement in maths and science of 10 year old primary
students in New Zealand,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr.
“It’s a credit to their teachers that the 10 year-old New Zealand students had a positive attitude to learning maths and
science with more than half of those in the study saying they enjoyed the subjects and felt confident about their
ability to learn them.”
“It’s also good to see there is no gender gap between the achievement of boys and girls at this age in maths and
“A big plus is the significant improvement in the performance of lower achieving 10 year old students in both maths and
science since the first study eight years ago. This is very encouraging.”
“It would be nice to see New Zealand 10 year-olds achieving above the international average in maths, but the good news
is they showed a significant improvement in performance, so the trend is heading in the right direction.”
“It appears the maths and science initiatives introduced into primary schools since the last TIMSS assessment are having
a positive impact.”
“We need to ensure this continues, in particular the professional development and support that teachers have received in
the teaching of maths and science,” says Colin Tarr. The TIMSS study also assessed maths and science achievement of 14
year-olds in 46 countries. In New Zealand 3800 Year 9 secondary students were assessed in late 2002.
The New Zealand students scored significantly above the international average in both maths and science. There was no
significant change in their performance since the first TIMSS assessment eight years ago.
Their maths achievement was at a similar level as 14 year old students in Australia, Scotland, Sweden and the United
States while their science ranked alongside students in Australia, Sweden and the United States.
Singapore was the leading country for maths and science achievement for both the 10 and 14 year olds, with Hong Kong,
Chinese Taipei and Japan also ranked at the top of the average scores for maths and science in both age groups.
“Overall the results of these assessments in maths and science of our 10 and 14 year old students are positive and show
that we can have confidence in the work being done by the teachers, principals and other staff in New Zealand’s
schools,” says Colin Tarr.