National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement - Visual Arts 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 visual arts as one of the four disciplines described in the arts learning area. As well as reporting students' achievement in and attitudes towards visual arts, this report provides teachers' and principals' perspectives on teaching and learning within visual arts. 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.

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 visual arts, students must demonstrate specific discipline-related knowledge and skills within these strands in order to make progress.

Previous monitoring studies of visual arts
Between 1995 and 2007 the National Educational Monitoring Project (NEMP) conducted monitoring in visual arts every four years for students in Year 4 and Year 8. Students' achievement was reported descriptively by task. NMSSA continues the monitoring work begun by NEMP and builds on it by summing up achievement across tasks and reporting against measurement scales. These scales are common to Year 4 and Year 8 and linked to curriculum expectations. NEMP also monitored achievement in music, but not dance or drama.

Study features
NMSSA used a two-step sampling procedure to select 100 schools at each year level and up to 27 students within each school to participate in the study. The nationally representative sample at each year level was made up of about 2,200 students.

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 visual arts (PVA) scale.

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

Key findings about achievement
Overall, the NMSSA study indicates that Year 4 and Year 8 students achieve reasonably well in visual arts. This is highlighted by results from the PVA, which showed that 82 percent of Year 4 students and 66 percent of Year 8 students achieved at or above expected curriculum levels. There were gender differences however; girls performed consistently better than boys on all measures of achievement at both year levels.

The NMSSA study also found that students nationally were generally very positive about visual arts. As a group, Pasifika students reported higher levels of engagement and interest in visual arts 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 pages72
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-927286-33-3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


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