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Ministry of Education.

Research reports

PIRLS 2021: COVID-19 Preliminary findings from the implementation of PIRLS in 2020 (published April 2022)
New Zealand took part in the fifth cycle of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, ‘PIRLS 2021’ in Term 4, 2020. PIRLS provides information on Year 5 students’ reading literacy/comprehension every five years.

Teachers as readers in New Zealand primary and intermediate schools (published 2021)
This exploratory study was carried out in 2021 by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) for the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. The project is part of a wider suite of six studies commissioned by the National Library as part of their Communities of Readers initiative.


PISA 2018: Reading in New Zealand – Reading achievement and experiences of 15-year-olds (December 2019)
This report summarises the PISA 2018 reading achievement story in NZ and explores major contributors to student success in reading literacy, such as students’ reading habits and reading strategies, instructional methods and opportunities students are given to develop as readers, as well as digital reading practices.

He Whakaaro: How can teachers and whānau effectively teach and support reading? (December 2019)
This report is mainly based on major meta-analyses that have been conducted on how to teach reading, as well as some literature reviews and individual studies.

Curriculum integration: What is happening in New Zealand schools? (2019)
This report presents the findings from a research project on curriculum integration in New Zealand schools, carried out by NZCER in 2018–19. The purpose of the research was to explore teachers’ rationales for curriculum integration, the approaches and practices used to integrate curriculum, and the learning opportunities such approaches provide for students.

How does New Zealand's education system compare? OECD's Education at a Glance 2019 (published September 2019)
This summary report is an annual Ministry of Education publication designed to complement the release of the 2019 EAG. It contextualises and examines how New Zealand’s education system compares, noting areas where it performed above or below OECD averages.

Reading literacy instruction in English-language countries: similarities and differences (published August 2019)
Using data from PIRLS 2016, this paper presents a comparison of the instructional practices used by teachers in English-language countries and jurisdictions when teaching reading comprehension, drawing attention to the similarities and differences across them.

Keeping children engaged and achieving in writing (published June 2019)
This report shares some of the strategies and approaches used by schools who had focused on improving achievement in writing. It also shares some simple strategies used in classrooms where achievement in writing had been accelerated.

PIRLS 2016: Schools and School Climate for Learning (published May 2019)
PIRLS is an international research study designed to measure trends in the reading literacy achievement of middle primary school students every five years. PIRLS 2016 was the fourth cycle and was implemented in late 2015 and early 2016.

Exploring literacy: How six schools lifted achievement (published 2019)
How can schools support students to make progress in reading and writing? The project identified schools that have sustained positive achievement in literacy over five years, and asked what they did to achieve this.


Massey University Early Literacy Research Project (published February 2018)
The purpose of this longitudinal research project was to improve the literacy outcomes of new entrant children during, and beyond, their first year of school.

Keeping children engaged and achieving through rich curriculum inquiries (published 2018)
This Education Review Office (ERO) report is one of a series of reports on teaching strategies that work. We asked leaders in each school what they saw as the reasons for their school's positive achievement trajectory and then investigated the teaching strategies that had been implemented, and the outcomes. This report shares some of the strategies and approaches used by schools that had focused on improving achievement through rich curriculum inquiries. It also shares some of the simple strategies used in classrooms where the inquiries had positively contributed to raising achievement in literacy and/or mathematics.

What drives learning in the senior secondary school? (published 2018)
This evaluation studies effective practice in schools’ senior curriculum. It contributes to the review being undertaken by the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) of the  National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). The Ministry-led review focuses on the implementation of NCEA as the national assessment system for the senior years of secondary schooling. 

Teaching strategies that work – Reading (published 2018)
This resource is the third in a series of reports derived from a national study of teaching approaches and strategies used in schools where there has been a significant increase in the number of students at or above the expected level in the upper primary school years (Years 5 to 8).

The importance of parents and caregivers (published 2018)
TIMSS assesses Year 5 maths and science skills and knowledge, and brings together background information from students, parents/caregivers, teachers and school leaders.

Understanding student attainment and progress (published 2018)
This paper describes why it is important for educators to understand and respond to both progress and achievement to enable children to maximise their potential. It summarises results from a new research dataset compiled by the Ministry of Education to illustrate the different insights that can be gained when looking at achievement relative to progress.

Achievement and progress in mathematics, reading and writing in primary schooling (published 2018)
Analysis of e-asTTle assessment data, 2011 to 2016. In order to support student learning it is important to continually improve our understanding of student achievement and progress. This project makes use of existing data to contribute to our current knowledge of student achievement and progress.

Evaluation of the Teacher-Led Innovation Fund: Final Report (published 2018)
The purpose of this evaluation was to provide timely and relevant information to: Inform continuous improvement of TLIF’s design, implementation and monitoring; Complement monitoring and review information sources to provide information about how the fund is operating; Expand the knowledge base about the nature of innovative teaching practice, collaborative inquiry, and mobilisation of new knowledge.

Responding to Language Diversity in Auckland (published 2018)
Auckland is New Zealand’s most culturally diverse city, with over 100 ethnicities and more than 150 languages spoken on a daily basis. This publication is based on the question, How are schools and early learning services in Auckland responding to this increasing cultural and language diversity?


Pasifika students, pasifika cultural activities, and engagement with pasifika families cover image.

Pasifika students, Pasifika cultural activities, and engagement with Pasifika families (published 2017)
This evaluation examines findings from the NZCER national survey of primary and intermediate schools 2016, which included a number of questions that asked specifically about matters related to Pasifika students, Pasifika families, or Pasifika cultural activities at school.

Teaching approaches and strategies that work (published 2017)
This evaluation looks at teaching approaches and strategies used in schools where there has been a significant increase in the number of students at or above National Standards in the upper primary school years (Years 5 to 8).

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What does an effective teacher of writing do that makes a difference to student achievement? (published 2017)
This article, based on an 18-month study of effective writing instruction amongst Year 5 to 8 students, concludes that effective implementation of three dimensions of effective practice (learning tasks; direct instruction; self regulation) are probable key levers in generating greater than expected learner gains in writing.


Digital technoliges for learning cover image.

Digital Technologies for learning: Findings from the NZCER national survey of primary and intermediate schools (published 2016)
This report looks at the role of digital technologies for learning in primary and intermediate schools. It draws on data from the NZCER National Survey of Primary and Intermediate Schools, which was conducted in late August and early September 2016. The survey asked how digital technology is being used, how it could be used, and what it means for teaching and learning.

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Literacy research that matters. A review of the school sector and ECE literacy projects (published 2015)
This is the second report in the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) Project Plus series. It looks at the 18 literacy-related projects in the early childhood and schools sector funded by the TLRI between 2003 and 2014. It considers what the community of researchers see as important in literacy teaching and learning, the problems to be tackled, the approaches taken and the new knowledge that has been built. 

Annual monitoring of reading recovery (published most recently 2016)
As part of the continuing evaluation of the implementation of Reading Recovery, schools with Reading Recovery are asked to provide information for the Ministry of Education on an annual basis. This information is used to examine trends in the delivery of Reading Recovery and the progress of students, and to assist the Ministry in developing policies regarding literacy.

Raising achievement in primary schools: ALiM and ALL (published 2014)
This national report is a companion report to Raising achievement in primary schools. It presents further findings of how some of the primary schools were using the Ministry-funded support projects – Accelerated Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) and Accelerated Learning in Literacy (ALL) to accelerate progress and raise achievement.


Deliberate design: An analysis of the 2010–11 School Journals and Teacher Support Materials (published 2012)
This summary report was carried out by NZCER for Learning Media Ltd. 

Research evidence on reading for pleasure (published 2012)
The first section of this UK research highlights research evidence on reading for pleasure from domestic and international literature; exploring evidence on the trends and benefits of independent reading amongst both primary and secondary-aged children, as well as why children read. The second section covers the evidence on what works in promoting reading for pleasure.

Literacy learning in elearning contexts: Mining the New Zealand action research evidence (published 2012)
Academic researchers and teachers from early childhood education (ECE) centres, primary schools, and secondary schools worked collaboratively to re-examine data from archived action research inquiries in order to highlight how literacy learning can take place in e-learning contexts.

Making a difference to Pasifika student achievement in literacy (published 2012)
This research report explores classroom and school-related factors associated with improvements in the literacy achievement and progress of Pasifika students beyond expected levels in schools participating in the Literacy Professional Development Project (LPDP). It also identifies the nature of the professional development support that facilitated these outcomes.


PIRLS (progress in international reading literacy study) (published most recently 2011)
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is a research project that provides information on the reading literacy of year 5 students.

Evaluation of Literacy and Mathematics Additional Learning Programmes for Students 2011 (published 2011)
This research report outlines the findings of an evaluation of the Literacy and Mathematics: Programmes for Students 2011, a Ministry of Education initiative to provide additional teacher time to enable selected schools to organise programmes for students who were assessed as ‘below’ or ‘well below’ the National Standards in mathematics, reading or writing. This initiative allowed a primary or intermediate school to design programmes in mathematics, reading or writing for a group of students to work intensively with a selected teacher.

Literacy teaching and learning in eLearning contexts (published 2011)
This report presents the findings of a research project on literacy teaching and learning in e-Learning contexts carried out by CORE Education and the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) for the Ministry of Education in 2009.

Reading and writing in years 1 and 2 (published 2009)
The early years of primary school are a critical time for children. This is when they learn the reading and writing skills they need to engage with all aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum. When children start school, each child’s literacy experience and knowledge is different. How well this experience and knowledge is recognised and used in their education on a daily basis is, to a large extent, in the hands of their teacher.


Literacy Professional Development Project: Identifying Effective Teaching and Professional Development Practices for Enhanced Student Learning (published 2007)
The Literacy Professional Development Project (LPDP) began in March 2004. The LPDP has a focus on improving teacher content knowledge in literacy, pedagogy and practice, and building effective professional learning communities. The project provides schools with an evidence-based professional development programme which aims to improve student learning and achievement in literacy.

Evaluation of the Literacy Professional Development Project (published 2007)

The Literacy Professional Development Project (LPDP) began in March 2004. The LPDP has a focus on improving teacher content knowledge in literacy, pedagogy and practice, and building effective professional learning communities. The project provides schools with an evidence-based professional development programme which aims to improve student learning and achievement in literacy.

Evaluation of the Home-School Partnership: Literacy Programme (published 2007)
This report provides an evaluation of the home-school partnership: literacy programme carried out in 2006–7 by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) for the Ministry of Education (MOE).

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An Evaluation of the Use and Integration of Readymade Commercial Literacy Packages into Classroom Programmes (published 2004)
This research identifies effective teacher practice for integrating commercially-produced readymade learning materials into classrooms to meet student learning needs. The research focused on practice with respect to literacy packages but the findings have resonance for other curriculum areas. The project investigated how low decile schools integrated five selected reading packages into their classroom reading programmes over two years, and identified effective practice around identifying and diagnosing student needs, selecting appropriate packages based on these needs, implementing the package and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Sustainability was also considered.

Evaluation of the Literacy Leadership Initiative: The Enhancement Programme 2001 (published 2003)
The Literacy Leadership initiative was established in 2000 as part of the Ministry of Education's Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. The Enhancement Programme comprised professional development and support from a facilitator for principals and leading teachers of literacy to review their current literacy practices, and plan, implement and review a classroom initiative related to a goal for literacy improvement. This evaluation looked at evidence for student achievement in literacy as a result of the programme; necessary conditions for programme success; and school-based structures and processes supporting sustainable literacy improvement.

Pathways over the transition to schools: Studies in family literacy practices and effective classroom concepts for Māori and Pasifika children (published 2002)
Two outcomes of research and development are described in this report. One is the development of a set of resources suitable for family literacy education. The second is a set of research goals involving Māori and Pasifika families.

Picking up the pace (published 2002)
This research project delivered concentrated professional development in literacy instruction to groups of early childhood and new entrant teachers in decile one schools in Mangere and Otara. The outcome was a substantial lift in the reading and writing achievement of new entrants. Picking up the Pace was a component of the Early Childhood Primary Links via Literacy (ECPL) Project which was part of a much broader project, Strengthening Education in Mangere and Otara (SEMO), which aimed to raise achievement significantly among students in these two communities.

Updated on: 12 May 2022