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Q&A provides the latest information from the Ministry of Education about the National Standards.

These Q&A have been published in the NZ Education Gazette.

6 December 2010

What languages have the Supporting Your Child's Learning booklets been translated into and how do I order them?

The Supporting Your Child’s Learning booklets feature learning activities parents and children can do at home. They also explain the National Standards in reading, writing, and maths for years 1 to 8. The English version of these was sent out to all schools in August 2010, with the Education Gazette. The translations are a 20-page booklet – a condensed version of the English fold-out sheets. You can order now for delivery in February.

Here are the languages the booklets are available in, and the order codes:

Arabic, 2010AR
Chinese, 2010CH
Cook Islands Māori, 2010CM
Dari, 2010DR
Hindi, 2010HD
Korean, 2010KR
vagahau Niue, 2010NU
gagana Sāmoa, 2010SM
Somali, 2010SL
Tagalog, 2010TG
Thai, 2010TH
gagana Tokelau, 2010TK
Tongan, 2010TN
Te reo Māori, 2010TM (learning within The New Zealand Curriculum)

How do I order?

Order resources, quoting the relevant item number, from Down the Back of the Chair. Order from the online catalogue or by email, at orders@thechair.education.govt.nz

22 November 2010

How can I stay up-to-date on National Standards information?

You can customise your TKI homepage to show the latest developments with National Standards.

Click on the link ‘Personalising your home page’ to view a presentation on how to get the latest information from a number of different sites. You can also add an RSS feed to your RSS reader. To learn more about RSS, or to learn how to set up an iGoogle page, go to the Educational Leaders website.

8 November 2010

Do I have to use the terms "above", "at", "below", or "well below" when reporting on a student's progress?

Teachers are not required to use the terms ‘above’, ‘at’, ‘below and ‘well below’ when reporting student achievement to parents. Whether they want to use those terms depends on their judgment about what will best motivate an individual student. The requirement for using the four-point scale only applies to boards of trustees’ annual reports.

What progress has been made on establishment of the Student Achievement Function?

A methodology has been developed and roles are advertised in the 8 November edition of the Education Gazette for a national manager and regional practitioners.

25 October 2010

Do I use ALL assessment information presented throughout the year to make an overall teacher judgment?

An overall teacher judgment is a point-in-time judgment of a student’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. You do not need to use all assessment results from throughout the year. A balanced range of information should inform your professional judgment. An overall teacher judgment should be based on a variety of evidence teachers already collect, such as the student’s work, peer and self-assessment, everyday classroom observation, and assessment activities both formal and informal.

Do I need to discuss the assessment results of ALL students in order to moderate overall teacher judgments?

No you don’t need to compare all students’ work in moderation. You should compare samples of students’ work, particularly those that seem to sit at boundaries between standards, and talk through your reasoning of where that sample of work is in relation to the standard. You can also discuss and develop a shared understanding of what "at" the standard looks like to you, and your colleagues. This judgment can then be used to inform all your overall teacher judgments of students' work.

11 October 2010

The Ministry is changing the way it selects Professional Learning and Development (PLD) providers. How does this affect the PLD available next year and how can schools access it?

As part of the redesign of Professional Learning and Development the Ministry is asking if your school wants to apply for PLD in Leadership and Assessment next year. You are invited to fill out an Expression of Interest form if you want to be considered for this PLD. You can access this on line at www.educationalleaders.govt.nz.

What is NOT changing?

There is no change to the amount of money being invested in PLD. The government will continue to spend more than $80 million annually on PLD for primary and secondary schools. The Ministry remains committed to supporting leaders and teachers to make significant improvements for students so that every learner achieves their potential. Schools can still choose to pay for professional development through their own operational budgets.

20 September 2010

What data should schools be gathering and using to inform their 2011 targets?

Schools should be gathering data from assessment tools, day-to-day practice and observations across the curriculum, and Overall Teacher Judgments in relation to National Standards.

Overall Teacher Judgments on each student should be recorded at the designated time (after 1, 2, or 3 years at school and end of Years 4-8) to inform school self review and reports to the school community and the Ministry of Education.

NAG 2a requires that student achievement in reading, writing, and mathematics be recorded using the four-point scale of "above", "at", "below" and "well below", including by Māori, Pasifika, and by gender. This can be recorded in Student Management Systems.

This data, along with other evidence, can then be used by schools to identify strengths and areas for further inquiry and/or improvement.

Do boards have to set targets in their charters for all students, in reading, writing, and mathematics?

Boards have to report on every student’s achievement in relation to the national reading, writing, and mathematics standards. Following self review they will set targets in their 2011 charters in the areas where they need to focus most. For example, in a school where students are achieving extremely well in mathematics and reading but not writing, the school may wish to put a stronger focus on writing. Boards will report on their progress against these targets in their 2012 annual reports. The annual reports will also identify the school’s strengths, areas for improvement, and planned actions for improvement.

6 September 2010

Are there identifiable points where students struggle in mathematics?

Educational research has identified some key learning points at which some students struggle in mathematics. These align with the mathematics and statistics learning area of The New Zealand Curriculum, the national mathematics standards, and the stages of the Numeracy Development Projects.

Key learning point Alignment
Understanding and learning to count, counting on, and counting back to solve problems

Curriculum: achieving level 1

Standard: achieving "after 2 years at school"

Numeracy stage: moving to 4

Initial understanding and using part-whole thinking to solve problems using addition and subtraction

Curriculum: achieving level 2

Standard: achieving "after 3 years at school" or "by the end of year 4"

Numeracy stage: moving to 5

Understanding and using part-whole thinking to solve problems with two-digit numbers using addition and subtraction

Curriculum: achieving level 3

Standard: achieving "by the end of year 5" or "by the end of year 6"

Numeracy stage: moving to 6

Understanding multiplication and division and using this understanding to solve problems

Curriculum: achieving level 4

Standard: achieving "by the end of year 7" or "by the end of year 8"

Numeracy stage: moving to 7

Understanding fractions, decimals, percentages and ratios, and using this understanding to solve problems

Curriculum: achieving level 5

Numeracy stage: moving to 8

The Ministry’s new approach to raising student achievement includes the $36 million announced for National Standards in Budget 2009 going into programmes and resources for students who are underachieving. This will include mathematics.

We currently have an exploratory study underway in 37 schools throughout New Zealand. This study is focussing on accelerating the learning of students below or well-below the mathematics standard. We expect to publish draft advice and schools’ stories from this Accelerating Learning in Mathematics Exploratory Study in early 2011.

More detail on the levels, standards, and numeracy stages is available at www.nzmaths.co.nz and nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/National-Standards

23 August 2010

Why are reporting requirements different for schools to report to parents and to their boards?

The reporting requirements for schools to report to parents and boards are different because they serve different purposes. Parents need information that is individual and unique to their child. Boards and the Ministry need information about groups of students or schools.

Reporting to parents is about the individual student. The purpose of the reporting is to inform the parent in plain language about how their child is progressing and achieving, including achieving in relation to the national standards. Parents can then use this information to contribute to the future engagement and learning of their child.

There is a great deal of flexibility around reporting to parents so that schools can determine how teacher judgments of student progress and achievement against the national standards are best explained or described. Each school may have a report approach that differs in format and content because their communities are different and the reporting processes they use to communicate with their parents will reflect that difference.

School reports to their boards and to the Ministry are about how all students and groups of students, in aggregate, are progressing and achieving, with a focus on school and system improvement.

From the board’s perspective, the report needs to help the board to make decisions about groups of students who may be in need of additional support and resources. The board needs clear information, plainly presented. How that is achieved may differ from school to school.

From the Ministry’s perspective, a standardised approach to the reporting of data by schools helps to ensure that additional support and resources can be provided to the groups of students or schools who can benefit the most. NAG 2A outlines the four point scale "above", "at", "below" and "well-below" which is required for board reporting to the Ministry.

9 August 2010

How can something that is a broad description be a "standard" and be sufficiently clearly defined to enable accurate and consistent assessments?

A common way to try and achieve accurate and consistent assessment is to ensure all students do the same tasks at the same time under controlled conditions.

International experience shows that the unintended effect of gaining consistency in this way is likely to restrict the curriculum to what can be tested using the chosen method (usually a paper /pencil test). Such tests often exclude important learning and teachers who want to help their students achieve good test results may teach towards specific items and neglect broader outcomes.

In New Zealand we have chosen an alternative approach. We have developed National Standards for years 1-8 that are supported by criteria and examples. The descriptions of the standards do not stand alone. The examples that accompany the standards support consistent judgments because they provide concrete reference points.

The examples and criteria draw attention to both the properties and quality of each standard. They are the anchor points for teacher judgment; they can also help students understand what quality means.

In standards-referenced systems consistency is achieved by initially making an overall judgment using the standards, and the criteria and examples that support them. Judgments for most students are straightforward. These can be checked for consistency by moderating a sample of judgments.

Moderation processes and professional discussion are particularly useful for work that is more difficult to assess and for work that lies at the boundaries. Such discussion heightens awareness and helps develop shared understanding of what quality means.

26 July 2010

What is the difference between criterion-referenced assessment and norm-referenced assessment?

National Standards are descriptions of the foundation learning that all students need at different points in schooling to meet the demands of The New Zealand Curriculum. The descriptions are supported by examples which illustrate important characteristics. They are also supported by assessment tasks and tools. Assessment tasks and tools are designed for different purposes.

For assessments that are criterion-referenced, descriptions, illustrations, and criteria are used to judge the quality of student work in relation to a given standard. Assessments that are norm-referenced allow teachers to compare their student’s progress with others in the class or with others in the country. Norm-referenced assessments are based on what the average student of a given age can do. Criterion-referenced assessment in relation to National Standards relates to what all students should be able to do, to be on track to achieve NCEA level 2.

Student assessment information that is related to clear standards can promote a flow of information that is the lifeblood of improvement. 
(Dr. Rick Stiggins, Founder of the Assessment Training Institute)

12 July 2010

Why does the scale for Board reporting have four points?

The scale for Board reporting has four points "above", "at", "below", and "well-below". Under NAG2A schools are required to report using this scale for annual Board reports.

Assessment experts recommended using a four-point scale given the purpose and nature of the standards. This took into account the need to: describe student performance that is qualitatively and discernibly different, provide meaningful information about quality of achievement, and provide bands that are sufficient to identify students at risk.

The ‘well below’ band is considered appropriate to allow the identification of students who are at risk because they are achieving and/or progressing well below what is expected. It is the Government’s aim to ensure students that need more assistance from their school and home, are identified early and assisted.

While it is necessary to use the terms "above", "at", "below" and "well below" in school Board annual reports, there is no requirement to be limited to these terms in discussions with parents and students, or in reporting to parents. Many schools already have established an appropriate vocabulary for discussing student progress and achievement with parents and this can continue in reporting to parents in relation to the National Standards.

28 June 2010

What terms should teachers use in reports to parents and students to describe progress and achievement in relation to the standards?

A number of approaches may be taken, but the student’s progress and achievement in relation to the expected National Standard needs to be clear. Terms that teachers may use to describe progress and achievement in reports to parents and students include:

  • Using the four-point scale (above, at, below, well-below the expected National Standard). Adapting terms previously used (for example. working towards, working at, working above or approaching, meeting, exceeding the expected National Standard),
  • Identifying the standard which best describes the student’s achievement (for example. the expected National Standard is Year 5, your child is working at the level of the Year 6 standard).
  • Identifying particular areas of strength or need for improvement in addition to overall level of progress and achievement.

These approaches address concerns raised by parents during consultation about labelling students or losing reporting practices they were already satisfied with. They give schools flexibility to report in ways that meet the needs of their communities.

Read more about reporting to parents on TKI http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Reporting-to-parents-families-and-whanau

Do teachers report a student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards, or Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori?

Schools with both English-medium and Māori-medium settings are likely to be using both the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. An individual student’s learning plan will come under only one curriculum, not both.

Teachers of students whose learning programmes are based on the New Zealand Curriculum should be using the National Standards to set the direction for learning and report students’ progress and achievement.

Teachers of students whose learning programmes are based on Te Marautanga o Aotearoa should be using Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori to plan learning programmes and report students’ progress and achievement.

Read more about which standard to use, and answers to other frequently asked questions about Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori on the Ministry website.

14 June 2010

What is the new National Standards poster?

The Ministry of Education has developed a poster that shows examples of the skills and knowledge students will possess as they progress and achieve in relation to the National Standards. The poster has examples for each standard in maths, reading, and writing.

It has been sent to principals and board chairs with this copy of the Education Gazette. More copies can be ordered from Down the Back of the Chair online or by email at orders@thechair.co.nz order number 700076 (size A1) 700077 (size A2)

PDF icon. Download the new National Standards poster (PDF, 3 MB)

How can I use the poster?

The poster is a resource to help you explain the National Standards in discussion with parents, families, whānau, and students. You can use it to illustrate a student’s progress and achievement in reading, writing, and maths and what the next stage of learning will be. It also shows how the standards relate to The New Zealand Curriculum levels.

It is important parents, families, whānau and students understand that the poster shows examples, not test items, and that these are only a small part of the skills and knowledge a child needs to meet each standard.

The poster is available in A1 and A2 size. Principals and teachers told us a large poster would be useful to display in areas where families meet such as foyers and hallways, as well as in classrooms. The smaller size is for you to use in conversation with parents and students, particularly during parent-teacher meetings.

31 May 2010

What is an Overall Teacher Judgment?

An Overall Teacher Judgment (OTJ) is a judgment made about a student’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. An OTJ should be based on a variety of evidence teachers already collect, such as the student’s work, peer and self-assessment, everyday classroom observation, and assessment activities both formal and informal.

When do I make an Overall Teacher Judgment?

Throughout the year teachers will make many professional judgments about each child’s learning. These judgments need to be brought together at times for particular purposes, for example for moderation, for reporting to parents, and for annual reporting.

Schools will decide when judgments should be made for reporting to parents and students. This can be at any time, but must be in writing at least twice a year.

The OTJ for the Board report must be made at a specific time. This OTJ is made at the end of a student’s first year at school, second year at school, third year at school, and then at the end of each school year for students in years four to eight. It must state where the child sits in relation to the National Standard for their year level, using the four-point scale described in NAG2A (above, at, below, well below).

Read the guidelines about making Overall Teacher Judgments on TKI.

Read about aligning the most popular assessment tools to the standards on TKI http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Assessment-tool-resources/Alignment-of-assessment-tools-with-National-Standards

17 May 2010

What changes will there be to Student Management Systems (SMS) to support school reports?

The Ministry is working with the SMS vendors ESD (eTAP), Schola (Schoolmaster and Assembly) and MUSAC to develop systems to support reporting in relation to National Standards. The modifications will be delivered in mid-2010 at no cost to the schools.

While there will be variations from one SMS to the next, common elements will include free text fields to enable schools to report to parents on:

  • Progress and achievement in relation to National Standards
  • Student’s learning goals
  • How parents can help at home
  • Extra support the school may be providing.

The field for reporting progress and achievement in relation to National Standards to parents will be able to accommodate a broad range of approaches including; the four-point scale (above, at, below, well below), the standard that is the best fit for the student, and previous terms used by the school such as "working towards, working at, exceeding".

SMS will have the capacity to record overall teacher judgments, using the four-point scale (above, at, below, well below). This will allow schools to analyse and report on aggregated National Standards data in their annual reports.

SMS will also be improved so they can capture data from a broader range of assessment tools. This will assist teachers to track student progress using multiple measures and ensure assessment information is accurate.

3 May 2010

What reports do I send to parents this year?

You are required to send two, clear, plain language, written reports that clearly reflect the student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards.

From 2012 for the Board of Trustees’ annual report, schools are required to report in relation to National Standards using the four-point scale (above, at, below and well-below). However, for reporting to parents schools are not required to use this scale.
Many schools already report well to parents, and many report more than twice a year. Schools are encouraged to find out what parents find most useful.

Examples of ways of reporting student learning can be seen at http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Reporting-to-parents-families-and-whanau/Examples-and-templates

How many students are expected to achieve the standards?

National Standards are designed to inform teaching and learning so that the next steps for each child are clearly identified. They have been set at a level that will ensure students who meet them are able to read, write, and do maths well enough to support their learning in all other learning areas. The standards have been designed so that students who meet them will be on track to achieve NCEA Level 2.

Based on current data we estimate that in reading approximately:

  • 50 percent of students are likely to be at or above the standard after 1 year at school
  • 60 percent are likely to be at or above the standard at Year 4
  • 60 percent are likely to be at or above the standard at Year 8.
  • We estimate that in mathematics approximately:
  • 80 percent of students are likely to be at or above the standard after 1 year at school
  • 70 percent are likely to be at or above the standard at Year 4
  • 50 percent are likely to be at or above the standard at Year 8.

In every classroom children achieve at different levels and progress at different rates; some children will be working well beyond their peers, and others will be working well below. Principals, BOTs, and teachers need to set annual goals for their students and their schools that are challenging, but achievable for them.

19 April 2010

Children start school when they turn five, so how do we report their progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards when the school year they are in might not be the same as the number of years spent at school?

Teachers should decide which standard best reflects what students know and can do. This can be done at the time of reporting. The teacher’s professional judgment should be based on assessment evidence about the standard that best fits the student’s performance. It is not necessary to change the reporting times schools have in place now.

Should I be doing anything differently in the classroom?

Talk with children about what the standards mean and what it means to make progress. Explain that the standards are like signposts to help them on their learning journey. Talk with children about how people learn. Get them to think about children learning at different speeds and needing different kinds of support in different learning areas. Share stories like The Tortoise and the Hare and the kinds of help the tortoise and the hare need. Ask children to share what helps them learn and link the discussion to the key competencies – for example, the importance of things like setting goals or keeping going when you feel like giving up.

At the same time look closely at the children who are struggling in reading, writing, or maths. Think about the learning opportunities available to them. Talk with children and their parents and decide on actions to accelerate those children’s progress.

Published on: 15 Dec 2010