In 1984, in one hundred Form 2 (Year 7) classes and in one hundred Form 5 (Year 10) classes throughout New Zealand, six thousand children wrote three pieces each. Their work was collected and the 18,000 pieces analytically marked according to internationally agreed criteria. Now the results are known. Not all the international results and comparisons from the other 13 countries and systems are available. It would be good to know 'how well New Zealand scored', but there are dangers in that - international surveys are sometimes treated as academic Olympics. However, some generalisations can be made and we can draw out consequent implications for teaching writing.