20 November 2002 Media Statement
Pisa findings support New Zealand action on literacy
Latest international research results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) strongly back the
work being done in New Zealand to get disadvantaged students more engaged in reading, Education Minister Trevor Mallard
Trevor Mallard was commenting on The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report “Reading for
Change – Performance and Engagement Across Countries” which examines the reading literacy results from PISA 2000 in
PISA is an international study to assess the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematical and
scientific literacies. New Zealand was one of 32 countries to take part and only Finland and Canada achieved higher
reading literacy results.
One of the main results from this latest PISA report it that it is likely that engaging disadvantaged students in
reading is central to improving their reading literacy performance.
This finding reinforces the work being done in the Ministry of Education’s Secondary Literacy Leadership Programme.
Workshops for more than 300 secondary school principals have been running since August 2002.
“This Programme aims to build secondary schools’ leadership capability for improving the literacy achievement of all
students. The international PISA data has been used to good effect with school principals and facilitators who are
leading this programme,” Trevor Mallard said.
Next year the ministry will be working in depth with 20 secondary schools to develop case studies and tools to promote
effective literacy practice across the curriculum.
The PISA report also shows that New Zealand has a relatively small gender difference in student engagement with reading
compared to other countries but a wide difference in performance.
“This would seem to imply that the difference in performance between boys and girls in New Zealand is unlikely to be due
solely to how students engage in reading. Given the association of engagement with achievement it appears that our
schools and teachers are doing as well in engaging boys in reading as they are in engaging girls,” Trevor Mallard said.
The report, which was released late last night, is available on www.pisa.oecd.org