News › 2019

The Australasian Region of the International Biometric Society is running a School Poster Competition for Year 9 & 10 Australian and NZ students. Entries close 10 November. More details »

School Poster Competition

Smoking cigarettes is worse teenage behaviour than smoking marijuana, according to Year 11-13 students from New Zealand schools. Furthermore, they think that their parents would agree with them.

The insight comes from CensusAtSchool TataurangaKiTeKura, a non-profit, online educational project that brings statistics to life in both English and Māori-medium classrooms. Supervised by teachers, students from Years 5-13 anonymously answer 30 questions in English or te reo Māori on digital devices. The project is run by the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland in partnership with the Ministry of Education and StatsNZ.

This year, more than 2,840 Year 11-13 students (aged 15-18) only were asked: How wrong do you think it is for someone your age to a) drink alcohol b) smoke tobacco cigarettes; c) smoke e-cigarettes d) smoke marijuana. They were able to choose a range of options on a scale from ‘not at all wrong’ to ‘very wrong’. The results showed that 61% of students felt that it was very wrong for people their age to smoke cigarettes, followed by smoking marijuana (52%), smoking e-cigarettes (44%), and drinking alcohol (22%).

Students were also asked how their parents/caregivers would feel about them doing the same things. The results were smoking cigarettes (81% of students felt that parents would consider this very wrong); marijuana (76%); e-cigarettes (69%) and alcohol (33%).

CensusAtSchool co-director Rachel Cunliffe says that the finding that smoking cigarettes, which is legal, was rated as worse behaviour than smoking marijuana, which is illegal for recreational use, was surprising. “Our figures can’t tell us why students perceived smoking cigarettes as worse than smoking marijuana,” she says. “However, we can speculate that it has something to do with what they see and hear around them and changing societal attitudes.” 

For example, New Zealand has had an anti-smoking law since 1990, which has discouraged and denormalised smoking for all of these students’ lives and most of their parents’ existence. Twenty-five years ago, one in four people aged 15 or over smoked daily; today, the tally is 13%. 

In contrast, although marijuana is illegal, it is the most-used illicit drug in New Zealand, with researchers estimating that by the age of 21, around 80% of young people will have used marijuana at least once. Pressure to legalise marijuana for recreational use has built to the extent that New Zealanders will choose whether or not to legalise and regulate it in a referendum alongside the general election next year.  

In other findings:

  • The older teens became, the less likely they were to see drinking alcohol as a bad thing for people their age to do. In Year 11, 28% of students saw drinking alcohol as very wrong. By Year 13, that figure was 12%. 
  • As students aged, they perceived that their caregivers relaxed over the issue of them drinking as well. One in two Year 11 students (42%) felt that their parents would see drinking alcohol as a bad thing for people their age to do. By Year 13, that figure was one in six (17%).  
  • However, this was not the case with cigarettes, with less of a drop as students aged. In Year 11, 65% felt that cigarette smoking by their age group was very wrong, compared to 55% in Year 13. 
  • The figures for perceived parental attitudes towards teens smoking cigarettes did not drop much with age. A total of 82% of Year 11s said their parents would view their age group smoking as very wrong, compared to 79% of Year 13 students.

CensusAtSchool runs every two years. This year’s census, the ninth, was launched on March 4. More than 23,000 students from 458 schools have taken part to date. See if your local school has participated here.  

CensusAtSchool is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people and is carried out in Australia, Canada, the United States, Japan and South Africa. The countries share some questions so comparisons can be made.

Thanks to Tara Boreham for sharing these photos of her students at Henderson Primary taking part in CensusAtSchool last term.

Henderson Primary School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Henderson Primary School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Henderson Primary School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Henderson Primary School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Henderson Primary School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Thanks to Susan Fenemor for sharing these photos of her students at Tapawera School taking part in CensusAtSchool last term.

Tapawera School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Tapawera School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Tapawera School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Tapawera School - CensusAtSchool 2019

Thanks to Gabriela Isolabella for sharing these photos of her students at Hastings Girls High School taking part in CensusAtSchool last term.

Hasting Girls - CensusAtSchool 2019

Hasting Girls - CensusAtSchool 2019

Hasting Girls - CensusAtSchool 2019

Hasting Girls - CensusAtSchool 2019

Hasting Girls - CensusAtSchool 2019

Hasting Girls - CensusAtSchool 2019

Thanks to Kristina Sheppard for sharing these photos of her Year 7 class at Ashburton Intermediate taking part in CensusAtSchool recently.

Ashburton Intermediate

Ashburton Intermediate

NCEA Change Package

15/05/19

In 2018, the Minister of Education launched a national conversation on the future of NCEA. New Zealanders were asked to share their views and experiences of NCEA – the challenges, the successes, what they like, and what could be done better.

The Ministerial Advisory Group, the Professional Advisory Group and the Ministry of Education provided advice to the Minister on recommended changes to NCEA, based on the findings of the 2018 engagement phase. (See NZSA’s response.)

The Government has now announced the change package which has resulted from this engagement. These changes are outlined in more detail in NCEA Change Package Overview 2019.

Thanks to Heather Willocks for sharing these photos of her class at Balclutha Primary School taking part in CensusAtSchool on Friday.

Balclutha Primary School taking part in CensusAtSchool

Balclutha Primary School taking part in CensusAtSchool

Balclutha Primary School taking part in CensusAtSchool

Balclutha Primary School taking part in CensusAtSchool

Balclutha Primary School taking part in CensusAtSchool

Statement sent to NZQA by the NZSA Education Committee.

External NCEA assessments in Statistics 2018
Dated 15 May 2019
External assessment and The NZ Curriculum

The Education Committee of the NZ Statistical Association would like to offer some general feedback on the 2018 external assessments in Statistics. The Committee would like the teaching and learning of
Statistics to continue to develop the potential of The NZ Curriculum in Statistics. We see the external assessors as being partners in this development. If shifts in assessment happen in 2020 and beyond, we would like to be sure that the teaching community is very aware of them, and we would be happy to help spread the awareness. Clarity and consistency of language is important throughout. This is across levels and between externals and internals.

Level 1 91037 Demonstrate understanding of chance and data
https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/exams/2018/91037-exm-2018.pdf
Some questions involve knowledge of contexts. For internals, knowledge of contexts is expected.
Consistency in this between externals and internals is desirable. Is there some method of providing relevant context information in the external exams? We are happy to discuss methods for this further.
The terms ‘probability’ (as used here) and ‘proportion’ (as used at Levels 2 and 3) should be used consistently across the levels.
The words ‘AND’ and ‘not’ (Q1b(i)) could be written in consistent type. The term ‘significant’ (Q2b(i)) should not be used in statistical work unless it means ‘statistical significance’. A word like ‘key’ is better.
We would like to be sure that NZQA ensures that colours used are effective for sight-impaired students. We are not sure that this is the case here. We think that pie graphs should be avoided. Bar graphs are better. In Q3a(i), the words ‘tend to’ are not needed. The question does later (Q3a(iii)) ask for ‘trends and features’.
Overall for this exam, we are pleased to see the use of real context, data, and graphs of the data. The exam is well positioned at the level of Curriculum Level 6, and covers a wide range of the ‘chance and
data’ at this level.

Level 2 91267 Apply probability methods in solving problems
https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/exams/2018/91267-exm-2018.pdf
Again, the terms ‘probability’ and ‘proportion’ should be used consistently across the levels.
In Q2a and b, the exam gives tables and asks useful questions about them. In Q3 stem, it gives the ‘written information’ that is mentioned in the Specifications, and asks for probabilities to be found from them. This is just one example of a style of using probability methods that is prevalent in the exams.
This style is within the expectations of the teaching community, as a way of meeting the Curriculum’s achievement outcomes. . However, in the near future, we would like to carry out a careful investigation
of the teaching, learning, and assessment of probability.
For Q3, we are interested in the geographical knowledge expected, and whether the map helps or hinders with the context.  The binaries ‘windy/still’ (Q2) and ‘wet/dry’ (Q3) are used. We are not sure that these make sense, or whether they need further definition. Again, we acknowledge the use of contexts and data.
The coverage of this exam seems to be incomplete. The Specifications contain ‘describing and comparing distributions’, with ‘shape, centre, spread’ via graphs; and ‘risk or relative risk’. The exam misses the opportunity to compare the experimental distribution and the fitted theoretical distribution in Q1a.

Level 3 91584 Evaluate statistically based reports
https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/exams/2018/91584-exm-2018.pdf
https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/exams/2018/91584-res-2018.pdf
We question whether all students will be able to use the colours and the sometimes small text in the infographics in Reports 1, and 2.
We commend the examiners on finding three reports with suitable contexts, and for assessing in keeping with the Curriculum’s target of ‘statistical thinking’.

Level 3 91585 Apply probability concepts in solving problems
https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/exams/2018/91585-exm-2018.pdf
We like the use of simulation in this exam (Q2d).
We question how much understanding we can expect for the true vs model vs experimental relationship (Q3c(iii)).
We are very aware of how hard is is to create an assessment in probability. We acknowledge that the examiners have found some meaningful contexts, and that this is not easy. The exam covers the
‘methods’ in the Achievement Standard’s Note 4.

Level 3 91586 Apply probability distributions in solving problems
https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/exams/2018/91586-exm-2018.pdf
Again, we acknowledge that the examiners have found some meaningful contexts. However, the exam does not ask for visual comparisons of experimental distributions and fitted theoretical distributions.

The Concord Consortium hosts a number of data science games and projects for Year 9 – 13 students. CODAP makes data science accessible and empowers students to understand and analyze complex data without hours of coding lessons or years of advanced mathematics. A new collection of Dynamic Data Science activities is now available to get students working with data!

Also check out:

If you are involved in any citizen science projects around Aotearoa, let CensusAtSchool know about your project.

PS: Did you know the R coding language was created in New Zealand!