The Project directors acknowledge the vital support and contributions of many people to this report, including:
New Zealand's National Education Monitoring Project commenced in 1993, with the task of assessing and reporting on the achievement of New Zealand primary school children in all areas of the school curriculum. Children are assessed at two class levels: Year 4 (halfway through primary education) and year 8 (at the end of primary education). Different curriculum areas and skills are assessed each year, over a four year cycle. In 1999, the areas covered were science, art, and the use of graphs, tables and maps. The main goal of national monitoring is to provide detailed information about what children can do so that patterns of performance can be recognised, successes celebrated, and desirable changes to educational practices and resources identified and implemented. Each year, small random samples of children are selected nationally, then assessed in their own schools by teachers specially seconded and trained for this work. Task instructions are given orally by teachers, through video presentations, on laptop computers, or in writing. Many of the assessment tasks involve the children in the use of equipment and supplies. Their responses are presented orally, by demonstration, in writing, in computer files, or through submission of other physical products. Many of the responses are recorded on videotape for subsequent analysis.
This report focuses solely on year 8 students. Starting in 1999, assessments of students learning in Mäori immersion programmes have been added to the national monitoring programme, at the year 8 level only. In 1999, half of these Mäori immersion students were learning in immersion schools (mainly Kura Kaupapa Mäori), while the other half were learning in immersion classes (located in mainstream schools, but having 80 to 100 percent of instruction conducted in Mäori). For this special sample, the assessment tasks and task materials were translated into Mäori and administered by teachers experienced in Mäori immersion settings. The results these students achieved are reported here, together with comparative figures for Mäori students in the main year 8 national monitoring sample (whose schooling was conducted predominantly in English).
Chapter 1 explains key features of the National Education Monitoring Project that are relevant to this report.
Chapter 2 explains some concerns about the fairness of the 1999 assessments in Mäori immersion settings (the first year of these assessments), and the resulting improvements for the 2000 assessments. Students in the 1999 Mäori immersion sample faced significantly greater challenges than their counterparts who were taught and assessed in English. For this reason, readers of this report should interpret the comparative results with considerable caution. One concern was that the national sample of year 8 immersion students included students who had quite limited skills in te reo Mäori (about 30 percent of the sample, some of whom had been in immersion education for only a year or two). Many of these students may have performed better if they had been assessed in English or in a combination of Mäori and English. Help was provided in English for some students in immersion classes. For students in immersion schools, however, the kaupapa Mäori was held constant, with students assessed solely in te reo Mäori. From 2000 onwards, students will not be included if they have been in immersion programmes for less than five years. This will produce fairer results.
A second concern highlighted in Chapter 2 involved the translation of tasks and material from English to Mäori. Despite the care, expertise, and elaborate procedures used, some of the translations had specific flaws, while others used language that was somewhat harder for the Mäori immersion students than was the English language version for Mäori students in the main sample.
As a result, the assessments generally took longer in Mäori and proved more challenging for both teacher and student. This resulted in the later tasks of some assessment sessions being omitted, or teachers improvising and adapting the task instructions to try to make them easier. If this happened, the task could not be marked. As a result, substantial proportions of the Mäori immersion students did not have results for some of the tasks. Unless at least 70 percent of students had results, it was judged not appropriate to present the results in this report, because we could not be confident that the results would give a fair national picture of student achievement. The 70 percent response requirement led to exclusion of 15 of the 33 science tasks and 5 of the 9 art tasks. However, none of the 27 graphs, tables and maps tasks were excluded for this reason.
Chapter 3 presents the results of the assessments of students' knowledge, understanding and skills in science. Science education focuses on students having inquiring minds and making sense of the actions and interactions of the biological and physical features of their environment.
The assessment tasks address the four main content strands of the science curriculum (the living world, physical world, material world, and planet earth and beyond). Two of the 18 tasks were found to have posed particular challenges in the Mäori language assessments that were not present in the English language assessments. These differences are explained in the commentaries for those tasks. On 12 (75percent) of the remaining tasks, Mäori immersion and Mäori general education students performed similarly. On 1 task (6percent), Mäori immersion students performed better than Mäori general education students, and on 3 tasks (19percent) Mäori immersion students performed worse than Mäori general education students.
Chapter 4 presents the results of the assessments of students' knowledge, understanding and skills in art. There are two major domains in art education: making art and responding to art. The former offers opportunities for developing abilities of personal and social expression through a range of visual media, forms and techniques. The latter is concerned with developing an appreciation and understanding of the art of others, and the ways art works are looked at, thought about and valued.
Unfortunately, because the five tasks involving responding to art all came late in one-to-one interview sessions, many immersion students did not attempt these tasks and therefore none of them met the criteria for inclusion in this report. All that remained were the four art making tasks.
Compared to Mäori students in general education, Mäori immersion students performed better on a crayon and pastel task, somewhat better (but not statistically significantly better) on a painting task, and worse on a collage task and an observational drawing task.
Chapter 5 presents the results of the assessments of students' skills in the use of graphs, tables and maps. Understanding and using information presented in the form of graphs, tables or maps is an important part of everyday life in our community. The tasks cover two aspects of the use of graphs, tables and maps: extracting and interpreting information, and organising and presenting information.
Five of the 27 tasks were found to have particular difficulties or special features in the Mäori language assessments that were not present in the English language assessments. These differences are explained in the commentaries for those tasks. On 17 (77 percent) of the remaining tasks, Mäori immersion and Mäori general education students performed similarly. On 1 task (5 percent), Mäori immersion students performed better than Mäori general education students, and on 4 tasks (18 percent) Mäori immersion students performed worse than Mäori general education students.
Chapter 6 reports the results of surveys of students about their curriculum preferences and perceptions of their achievement and potential in science and art.
Two class science activities ("going on field trips" and "doing things like experiments") were strong first preferences for Mäori students in general education. Students in Mäori immersion programmes favoured "going on field trips" over all other activities. Compared to Mäori students in general education, students in Mäori immersion programmes were somewhat more supportive of science programmes at school and science activities in their own time. They also reported that their school programmes included higher levels of field trips, visits to science activities, and experiments with everyday things. The most notable differences, however, were that much higher proportions of students in immersion programmes were very positive about how good they thought they were at science and about their suitability to be good scientists when they grew up.
Mäori students in general education indicated that drawing was their most frequent art activity in school, followed by painting, with all other activities much less frequent. Drawing was also first for students in Mäori immersion settings, but other activities were more evenly experienced (painting, making models, weaving, printmaking). Compared to Mäori students in general education, students in Mäori immersion programmes felt they learned more about art at school, were more positive about their own abilities in art, and reported a wider range of art making experiences at school. Most dramatically, far fewer (8 percent versus 47 percent) answered "don't know" to the question "How good does your teacher think you are at art?"
Overall, in the curriculum areas covered by the assessment tasks used in this report, there were few differences in performance on the tasks between Mäori students learning in Mäori immersion settings and those learning in English language settings. They performed similarly on over 70 percent of tasks. The modest advantage for Mäori general education students on the remaining tasks may well have resulted from the difficulties in this year's assessments that are explained in Chapter 2. Results from improved national monitoring assessments over the next few years will be more informative, especially as Mäori immersion education continues its development and can draw on a wider range of appropriate teaching resources. Many of the immersion schools and classes have been operating for just a few years.