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Literacy, numeracy, and science skills


Literacy, numeracy and science skills are foundational for children and young people's current and future wellbeing. This indicator looks at the percentage of children (aged 15-16 years) meeting the Level 2 benchmark for reading, maths and science.

Literacy, numeracy and science skills are crucial for young people to both engage in education, and are foundational for meaningful participation in the social, cultural, political, and economic life of New Zealand and the wider world.

Reading literacy is the basis for achievement across nearly all subjects in the New Zealand curriculum. The positive long-term impacts of education on current and future wellbeing, income, and employment are well documented. Reading literacy is essential for advanced, navigating day to day life, and for almost all employment opportunities. Research has shown that reading contributes to a range of wellbeing outcomes - for example it can increase agency, empathy and social skills, and improve mental health.

Numeracy is also essential for a range of basic life skills such as keeping time, cooking, financial management, managing our health, and making sense of information in the world. People with poor numeracy skills are more than twice as likely to face unemployment. More broadly, numeracy supports children and young people to develop logical thinking and to make well-founded judgements.

Science is a major influence on many aspects of children's daily lives. Science education involves developing skills and knowledge to investigate the living, physical, material, and technological components of the environment and to make sense of them in logical and creative ways. An understanding of science is necessary as society grapples with major challenges and opportunities that confront our world.

This indicator relates to the 'learning and developing' outcome.

How will we measure this?

  • This indicator assesses 15-16 year-old students' achievement in reading, mathematics and science. using data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The PISA is usually conducted every three years but was delayed for a year due to COVID-19. Data from PISA 2022 is likely to become available in December 2023.

For more information

Last updated: 
Thursday, 23 July 2020