Education Minister Hekia Parata says the latest National Standards data reveals some concerning trends, including a decline in the rate of achievement as the year level increases, especially in mathematics.
The national snapshot released this morning shows achievement is significantly lower for Maori and Pasifika learners than for others, and boys trail girls.
However, Ms Parata said that overall the results were a "pleasing advance on last year's data''.
She said it was the first year data was split into year levels and there had been a "small but incremental increase in reading, writing and mathematics results''.
The Education Ministry had established an advisory group of experts in literacy and numeracy and asked them to look at National Standards data and other information and make recommendations about how to improve the results.
Ms Parata said the latest data was in line with other studies and showed disparity continued in the education system.
"We have a range of support in place to help children including Reading Recovery, Reading Together and targeted programmes to accelerate progress in reading, writing and mathematics.
"We expect school leaders and teachers to use their data and to be targeting resources to the areas where extra support is needed. We are also looking to introduce the Progress and Consistency Tool for National Standards and Te Waharoa Ararau for Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori later this year which will help support teachers to make reliable and consistent judgements," she said.
Ms Parata said it was great to see about 70 per cent of children were at or above the standards. Pasifika children showed the greatest increase on last year, improving by around 3 per cent in all three standards.
"It's a credit to our teaching profession to see progress being made child by child and school by school," Ms Parata said.
Ms Parata said the data would be used to determine where to target funding.
This was only the second year that National Standards data had been reported and Ms Parata said she expected the quality to improve each year.
"It gives us a very comprehensive picture of our system and what we need to be focusing on."
"It is also exciting that we now have the Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori information. Our children in kura and schools using Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori are generally at a level where they should be for korero, panui, tuhituhi and pangarau, but the information also shows us where there is room for improvement."
She said the ministry was working with about 13 schools that had not produced accurate data.
School-by-school data would be released once they had worked with those schools by the end of the month.
Ms Parata said new progress and consistency tools later this year would help support teachers to make "reliable and consistent judgements".
She said the data was extremely powerful for both identifying and providing support to all children, and targeting professional development to teachers to continue to improve their overall judgements against the standards.
The 2012 national aggregate data shows:
• Reported achievement against the National Standard for reading increased by 1.2 percentage points from 76.2 per cent in 2011 to 77.4 per cent in 2012.
• Reported achievement against the National Standard for mathematics increased by 1.4 points from 72.2 per cent in 2011 to 73.6 per cent in 2012.
• Reported achievement against the National Standard for writing increased by 2 points from 68 per cent in 2011 to 70 per cent in 2012.