Media Release: New standards reveal the true extent of New Zealand’s literacy and numeracy crisis

19 July, 2022
  • One third of Kiwi students fail Education Ministry’s new numeracy and reading standard.

  • Two thirds of Kiwi students fail new writing standard.


Wellington (Tuesday, 19 July 2022) – A policy paper released today by The New Zealand Initiative addresses alarming results from a pilot of new literacy and numeracy assessments for NCEA. The new assessments are scheduled to be introduced as part of the Ministry of Education’s review of the NCEA system.

Just one third of the pilot students passed the writing assessment, and only two thirds passed each of the reading and numeracy assessments.

The author of the policy paper, Dr Michael Johnston, says that the pilot demonstrates an urgent need to reform the teaching of literacy and numeracy in New Zealand’s schools.

Dr Johnston also recommends a way ahead for the new standards:” It would be politically difficult for the Ministry or any Minister to introduce a change that will result in far fewer young people receiving qualifications. Yet it is imperative new requirements are not laid aside altogether”.
Dr Michael Johnston says, “The recommendations in my policy paper are intended to recognise political reality while making it possible still to implement a robust credential for literacy and numeracy.

But perhaps the most important recommendation is for structured literacy and numeracy teaching to be systematically implemented in New Zealand’s schools.

New Zealand’s students need to be literate and numerate enough to thrive in an information-rich society.”

Read our policy point: A way ahead for NCEA literacy and numeracy here




Dr Johnston is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact:

Amanda Boyd, Marketing & Communications Manager
P: 04 494 9109

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