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In 2014 and 2015 New Zealand took part in two large international studies – the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). TIMSS focuses on the maths and science achievement of Year 5 and Year 9 students. PISA focuses on the reading, maths, and science literacy of 15-year-old students. Both studies also examine the context in which learning takes place.
TIMSS and PISA assessment frameworks have slightly different approaches to science – TIMSS focuses on curriculum, teaching, and learning, while PISA focuses on science literacy for life beyond school for the average student. While still assessing all three areas of literacy (reading, maths, and science), each cycle of PISA has a main focus on only one of these areas – in this cycle it was science.