National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement - Drama 2015 Key Findings

Educational Assessment Research Unit, New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Mustafa Asil

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportResearchpeer-review


In 2015, the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) assessed student achievement at Year 4 and Year 8 in three areas of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) – the arts, English: listening and English: viewing. This report presents the key findings for drama as one of the four disciplines described in the arts learning area.

As well as reporting students' achievement in and attitudes towards drama, this report provides teachers' and principals' perspectives on teaching and learning drama. The report accompanies five other reports that present results and technical information related to the NMSSA study of the arts. For an overview of findings in the arts learning area, including comparisons of findings across the arts disciplines, readers are directed towards the report The Arts 2015 – Key Findings.

Unlike music and visual arts, drama was not previously monitored by the National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP). This is the first time that student achievement in the discipline of drama has been assessed at a national level in New Zealand schools. The findings of the report represent an important baseline to be built on.

The arts
The NZC describes the arts as one learning area. However, the curriculum requires that students at Year 4 and Year 8 have access to learning in each of four arts disciplines: dance, drama, music – sound arts (hereafter referred to as music), and visual arts. The arts learning area has four strands that are common to each discipline: understanding the arts in context, developing practical knowledge in the arts, developing ideas in the arts, and communicating and interpreting in the arts. In drama, students must demonstrate specific discipline-related knowledge and skills within these strands in order to make progress.

Study features
A programme was designed to gain a broad, as well as a deep, understanding of achievement across the arts using three assessment components: The Nature of the Arts (NoTA) assessment (all disciplines); performance rating frameworks (all disciplines); Practical tasks (music and visual arts).

The performance rating scale for drama was called the Performance in Drama (PDr) scale.

Other data were collected through questionnaires for students, teachers and principals.

Key Findings
Overall, the NMSSA study indicates that there is room for improvement in how well Year 4 and Year 8 students achieve in drama. This is highlighted by results from the PDr assessment, which showed that about half of the students at each year level achieved below expected curriculum levels. Girls, on average, achieved higher than boys.

The NMSSA study found that students nationally were generally positive about learning drama. As a group, Pasifika students reported higher levels of engagement and interest in drama than non-Pasifika students.

Providing more support to teachers may play a part in improving student outcomes further.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew Zealand
PublisherMinistry of Education New Zealand
Commissioning bodyMinistry of Education
Number of pages64
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-927286-30-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


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