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  Community » Waikato Progress Indicators - Tupuranga Waikato » Report cards » Educational attainment

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Improving trend    IMPROVING TREND


Educational attainment levels for people in the Waikato region have been steadily rising.

This indicator is the percentage of school leavers with NCEA level 2 or above, from Ministry of Education records.

Why is this indicator important?

Upper secondary school qualifications, currently NCEA level 2, serve as the foundation for higher (post-secondary) learning and training opportunities as well as the preparation for direct entry into the labour market. Those that leave education early with few qualifications are at much greater risk of unemployment or vulnerability in the labour force, and are more likely to have lower incomes, and fewer employment opportunities than those with higher qualifications.

Educational attainment

 Educational attainment 2019


Year Percentage of school leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above
2009 64.2
2010 66.6
2011 69.3
2012 72.0
2013 73.5
2014 76.0
2015 77.6
2016 79.5
2017 77.9


What is this indicator telling us? 

  • Over most of the period 2009 to 2017, there was a strong upward trend in the percentage of school leavers with NCEA level 2 or above. However, the Waikato region still has a slightly below average level of educational attainment compared to New Zealand overall.
  • A higher percentage of females than males are achieving NCEA level 2 or above. For the Waikato region in 2017, the percentage of female school leavers with NCEA level 2 or above was 80.7 per cent compared to 75.3 per cent for male school leavers.
  • Educational attainment remains lower for some ethnic groups at the regional and national level. For the Waikato region in 2017, the percentage of Māori school leavers with NCEA level 2 or above was 68.5 per cent compared to 76.5 per cent for Pasifika school leavers and 81.9 per cent for European/Pākehā school leavers.
  • There is considerable variation throughout the Waikato region for this indicator. In 2017, the percentage of school leavers with NCEA level 2 or above ranged from a low of around 65.4 per cent in the Waitomo District up to 84.5 per cent in Waipa District. These local figures can change considerably from year to year.
  • According to the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)(external link), New Zealand has stabilised its position among the top half of the 72 countries whose 15-year-olds sat the tests in 2015. New Zealand is above the OECD average and has moved slightly up the OECD rankings in maths, science and reading, notably achieving 10th place for the reading achievement - up from 13th place in 2012.
  • Latest results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)(external link) show that New Zealand's Year 5 students increased their achievement in science in 2014/15 compared to the 2010/11 tests.

Check out related information on our website and other organisations’ websites listed on our Waikato Progress Indicators’ Useful Links page.


Click here to view report cards



Data are updated annually on the Ministry of Education's Education Counts website (school leavers with NCEA level 2 or above(external link)). Data are available in an Interactive Pivot Table.

Update details: Updated online in July each year. Data for each year may be retrospectively updated to account for prior school leavers returning to get qualifications; data quality improvements; and changes to data methodology and definitions.

Customised data request requirements: Nil


Territorial Authority (TA) disaggregation: Yes 

Other regions: Yes 

New Zealand: Yes 

Other countries/ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): Comparable survey data on learning trends in young people are available including the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA(external link)) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS(external link)). Data on the academic attainment level of the adult population are less comparable between countries.

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