Kiwi students doing better in maths and science

  • Steve Maharey

Results from an international survey of maths and science show the government's focus on professional support for teachers is contributing to a lift in achievement, says Education Minister Steve Maharey.

Analysis of New Zealand's results for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2002, show significant improvements in maths and science achievement since the last survey in 1998/99.

"The results show gains in maths and science achievement for all year 5 students, with the biggest improvements among students that were previously the lowest achievers," Steve Maharey said. "Maori and Pacific boys at year 5 level have made significant gains in maths and science since the study began, and in year 9 all girls have made improvements in science, particularly Pacific girls.

"At both years 5 and 9 the gap in performance between students who often spoke English in the home and those who did so rarely has significantly reduced.

"Overall, year 5 students have lifted achievement up to the international mean and year 9's have retained their achievement levels significantly above the international mean.

"The results reinforce that the government's focus on supporting teachers to enhance their skills, and develop programmes that meet the diverse needs of their students is making a difference.

"We have invested more than $37 million since 1999 in programmes that support teachers to lift standards in numeracy and maths, and develop teaching programmes tailored to the needs of their students. This year alone 17,000 primary school teachers and 38,000 kids will take part in projects aimed at lifting numeracy standards.

"In science we have improved support for teachers, including science advisers in schools and new teaching resources."

Steve Maharey said New Zealand would be participating in the fourth phase of this study in 2006/07 and that he expected to see a further lift in achievement. A full summary report of the student achievement findings from this project is available at