A new analysis of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement shows Cook Islands students performing well compared with Pacifica students at school in New Zealand.
NCEA is the standard qualification for secondary students in New Zealand but is also undertaken in a number of other countries.
The analysis shows that in many respects the Cook Islands students have a slightly higher achievement level.
A greater percentage of Pacifica teenagers in New Zealand studying at year 11 and 12 achieve NCEA level one and two, but more Cook Islands students finish year 13 with NCEA level three.
This revelation comes amid a push for the school leaving age to be extended to 16 from 15.