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That Was the Year That Was: SOSNZ – 2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Actually, Our Kiwi Education System is Bloody Good

The latest published statistics from a worldwide survey of education in 15 year olds shows that we are doing really, really well.  Excellently, in fact.

Reviewers of the data noted that “New Zealand’s education system has won major praise with it nearing the top in literacy, mathematics and science according to a highly recognised international assessment system. But the data points to some alarming gaps in New Zealand – especially socio-economic.” [1]  So we are doing well despite the shocking gaps between those with much and those with little.  Go figure.

So just how well did we do?

Overall,  in 2009 New Zealand was ranked 5th out of 34 OECD countries for mean PISA scores across reading, mathematics and science.

Fifth.  Fifth out of thirty four.  FIFTH!

Where was the USA?  The UK?  Aus?  Below NZ, not above.   So next time a politician stands up and talks about education here in the God Zone, just remember – 5th in the world.

Are the 2012 statistics a fluke?

No, they’re not. NZ consistently performs well, as shown in the 2000, 2002 and 2003 information below: [2]

Educational attainment

Over three-quarters (76 percent) of New Zealanders aged 25–64 years have achieved secondary or tertiary educational qualifications.

This is at the upper end of the OECD scale, placing New Zealand twelfth among 30 nations, slightly behind Austria and ahead of Finland, and well above the OECD average of 65 percent.

There is considerable variation in the proportion of people holding qualifications, from 13 percent in Mexico to 88 percent in the Czech Republic.

Educational Attainment(percentage of 25–64 year olds attaining at least upper secondary education), 2002

 New Zealand  76
 OECD  65

High rates of early childhood education

New Zealand also has higher rates of participation in early childhood education than most other OECD countries.

Ninety-three percent of New Zealand four year olds were involved in early childhood education in 2000, compared with an OECD average of just 73 percent. New Zealand ranked ninth in the proportion of four year olds in education.

Education(proportion of 4 year olds in primary or pre-primary education), 2000

 New Zealand  93
 OECD  73


New Zealand children rank relatively highly on international literacy scales.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment measures performance levels of students near the end of compulsory education in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

The data shows that New Zealand children rank seventh among OECD countries, with comparable data in terms of the average score across the three scales, behind Finland, Korea, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia. New Zealand rates above the OECD average on each of the scales – fifth in reading, ninth in mathematics and seventh in science.

 Student Literacy(student performance on the combined reading, scientific and mathematical literacy scales), 2003

 New Zealand  522
 OECD average  498

So just how well did we do in the latest statistics?

The science results for 15 year olds were topped by Shanghai (575), Finland (554), Singapore (542) and New Zealand (532).  That means we are the 4th best in science out of 65 countries. The OECD average was 501.

The top reading literacy scores for 15-year-olds showed Korea (with a score of 539), Finland (536),  Hong Kong-China (533), Singapore (526), Canada (524) and then New Zealand (521). New Zealand was well above the OECD average of 493.  It’s worth noting that all but one of the countries out-performing NZ there have education systems based on equitable education for all, rather than competition.  Singapore is the only exception to that. None have charter schools.

We did very well in maths, too.

It’s worth remembering all of this and celebrating how well we do as a country.


Where to next?

That’s not to say we don’t have areas in need of careful focus and improvement – of course we do.  All teachers know that – we all want that.  We want to be able to easily get access to professional development so we can enhance the skills we have.  We want to lift achievement in immigrants, Pacific Islanders and Maori students so that they stand a better chance of achieving the same as other groups.  We want to address the huge and worrying  disparity in achievement between the haves and the have-nots.

It’s a great system we have, and a wonderful one to build on and improve further – it isn’t in need of a complete overhaul, just the trust and respect of those in charge, and a willingness to listen to our advice, suggestions and ideas.

Then we can all get on with more of what we do well – teaching.





National Standards in Numbers

It’s really wonderful for me to see an analysis that has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the (admittedly shonky) data. Well worth a read even if you have to skim read the mathsy bits 🙂

Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

DISCLAIMER: I’m a student of statistics – I wrote a Masters thesis in geography which used many statistical methods which I literally picked up along the way, and I’m currently studying towards a Graduate Diploma in Applied Statistics at Massey University. I’m also learning to use R as a go. I like to use this blog to explore things that interest me and stuff that I learn, including statistics. Some of the methods used here are still very new to me and my methodology may be flawed, and I welcome any feedback you might have on my methodology or my R script – the R script is here, and the dataset is here.

A lot has been written in the political stratosphere regarding last week’s release of National Standards lecture. Those on the right of the political spectrum have defend National Standards as a meaningful release of information that…

View original post 1,057 more words

Reflections on the SOSNZ Blog

As a committed blogger and social media junkie, it’s fascinating for me to see how many people visit the page each day, where they come from, and where they click out to from here.  It’s quite telling to look at the search terms that got them to the page, too.

It’ll come as no surprise that this week the main search terms have been ‘save our schools’, ‘Christchurch school protest”, ‘untrained teachers’, ‘save Freeville School’, ‘Save Christchurch schools’,  and a host of others along the same lines.   The announcement last week that the Ministry had plans to close, relocate and merge a number of Canterbury schools after what amounted to a minimum of consultation has sent shockwaves through the area and indeed through the country.

People come to the blog from all over the world, not just New Zealand.  Some no doubt arrive due to search terms that are not quite specific enough (I loved the four Romanians that found me this week by searching ‘apology letter for fighting at school), but as a huge number click out to related pages, it does look like most find themselves on a useful page and want to read more.  That’s always good to know, as a blogger.  There’s no point doing this if I’m talking to myself, and little point if it’s just me and the four Romanian prize fighters…

Since the Christchurch schools announcement, about a tenth of all people coming to the blog have clicked out to the Ministry of Education documents Directions for Educational Renewal in greater Christchurch and Future Directions.  People want to – maybe need to – know the finer detail of what is going on, what is already decided, what might be changed, who was consulted, and any clue as to why those particular decisions were made.  It all comes down to one word: Why?

As always, many have gone out to Facebook, to look at either the SOSNZ page there or other linked pages, such as Save Chisnallwood Intermediate – DO NOT CLOSE – Save Avondale primary and Save Freeville School.  I hope it’s helped people find a place to share their thoughts and support each other.

A sizeable number have gone off to the petition, Vote Canterbury Kids, no doubt to add their names to the hundreds that have signed already.  That gave me a little grin, I have to say.

Writing a blog isn’t much.  I’m not out there on the front line, I’m not marching down a street (although it has been known).  But it’s better than sitting at home muttering and doing nothing.

So if you feel concerned, angry, bewildered or just want to know more, do something.  Blog, Tweet, talk to your friends, go to meetings, read the news, talk to your MPs, anything.  Just do something.

Be a Legend

No matter what people tell you, no matter what you read, always do some research for yourself.

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