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Background

What are the National Standards?

Our national curriculum sets the direction for teaching and learning in two documents: The New Zealand Curriculum for English-medium schools and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, the curriculum for Māori-medium schools and settings.

National Standards support national expectations of student progress and achievement across all areas of The New Zealand Curriculum. They are descriptions of what students should know and be able to do in reading, writing, and mathematics at different points of their schooling from years 1-8.

National Standards are a tool to help teachers and schools understand the expected levels of achievement at stage/year-appropriate levels, know how to measure the achievement of each student in relation to the expectations, and to improve teaching and learning for better student learning and progress in all areas of the curriculum.

Read an article about the model used to develop the standards on the Education Gazette website >>

How will they raise student achievement?

National Standards will enable us to improve student achievement by providing sound information about how students are progressing in relation to these national expectations of achievement.

Early identification of students who are not making the expected progress will allow schools, teachers, and parents to make informed decisions about how to improve students' achievement and to provide appropriate support. Timely and targeted interventions will make the difference. National Standards will also enable teachers to identify and prepare extension programmes for children who are achieving beyond their year group.

Which standards should a school use: the National Standards (English medium) or Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori (Māori medium)?

The National Standards support teaching and learning across The New Zealand Curriculum while Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori support teaching and learning across Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Teachers in schools that have developed their programmes based on Te Marautanga o Aotearoa will be required to assess their students in relation to Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori. Where The New Zealand Curriculum has been used to set the direction for learning, student's progress and achievement should be assessed in relation to the National Standards.

Read more about Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori

If you have any other questions on National Standards, please email us at the Ministry of Education through national.standards@education.govt.nz.

Goals and targets

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

Schools report to boards on each student's achievement and how they are progressing in relation to the national reading, writing, and mathematics standards. Following self review they will set targets in their charters in the areas where they need to focus most (1 March for annual charter update to be provided to the Ministry).

For example, in a school where students are achieving extremely well in mathematics and reading but not in writing, the school may wish to place a stronger focus on writing.

Boards will report on their progress against these targets in their annual reports. The annual reports will also identify the school's strengths, areas for improvement, the basis for identifying areas for improvement, and planned actions for improvement.

What expectations does the Ministry have about targets? For example, do we have to get a certain percentage of our students meeting the standards by 2014?

The Ministry will not set a blanket target for all schools. Schools will be expected to set appropriate targets for their particular students.

Does every child need goals in mathematics, reading, and writing?

All students should know what goals they are working towards in reading, writing, and mathematics, and why those goals are important.

What about goals in the other learning areas? Do students need these as well?

Yes. Helping students to set their own learning goals helps them to be clear about what they know and what they need to learn, and to take greater ownership of their learning.

If you have any other questions on National Standards, please email us at the Ministry of Education through national.standards@education.govt.nz.

Assessment

Does the introduction of National Standards mean new national tests?

The implementation of National Standards in years 1-8 will not involve the introduction of nationally-standardised testing. Effective teachers assess their students throughout the year. This will continue, with the National Standards providing key signposts of expected progress and achievement at each year level.

Information will be gathered from many sources, including rich information from day-to-day activities, students' self and peer-assessment, as well as data from more formal assessment tools such as those already in use in our schools. Teachers will use the information they have gathered to form an overall judgment about a student's progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards.

National Standards do not label children as 'failing' or 'passing'; they ensure that goals are set at an appropriate level for each child and that each and every child receives the level of support needed to make progress.

Will there be an entry standard for five year olds?

There is no entry standard for five year olds. Within the first year of school there will be two reports to parents on their child's progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. After a student has completed one whole year of schooling (that is, four terms) the 'after one year at school' standards will be used to judge the student's achievement and reported for use in Board reports.

How often do teachers have to make judgments about progress and achievement in relation to the standards?

Teachers and students should be making judgments about progress as they respond to information that assessment provides. These ongoing informal and formal judgments will contribute to making Overall Teacher Judgments for reporting to parents at least twice during the year, and for reporting to Boards once a year.

What is 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 and/or Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori. 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). This involves drawing on and applying the evidence gathered up to a particular point in time in order to make an overall judgment about a student's progress and achievement.

Read more about making Overall Teacher Judgments >>

Read the Overall Teacher Judgment fact sheet >>

When is an Overall Teacher Judgment made?

Overall Teacher Judgments (OTJs) need to be brought together at times for particular purposes, for example for moderation, reporting to parents, and annual reporting.

Schools will decide when judgments should be made for reporting to parents. This can be at any time, but must be in writing at least twice a year. When reporting to boards, OTJs must be made at a specific time. An OTJ is made at the end of a student's first whole year at school (that is, four terms), second year at school, third year at school, and then at the end of each school year for students in years 4 to 8. This OTJ for the board's report must state where the child sits in relation to the National Standard/Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori for their year level, using the four-point scale described in NAG2A (above, at, below, well below).

Read more about making Overall Teacher Judgments >>

Read the Overall Teacher Judgment fact sheet >>

Are we able to use assessments from other learning areas to determine where children are in relation to the National Standards?

Yes, assessments in other learning areas will help to inform a teacher when making an Overall Teacher Judgment. The National Administration Guidelines make it clear that schools should use a range of assessment practices and 'gather information that is sufficiently comprehensive' and of 'good quality' when developing and implementing teaching and learning programmes in all areas of the national curriculum, giving priority to literacy and numeracy, especially in years 1 to 8.

Schools will decide, and should be able to justify, their choices about the assessment activities and the tools and processes they use. Good practice suggests that an overall judgment about progress and achievement in literacy and numeracy needs to be made within the context of the curriculum learning areas.

Are teachers required to use norm-referenced assessment tools?

NAG 1 (ii) requires schools to 'through a range of assessment practices, gather information that is sufficiently comprehensive to enable the progress and achievement of students to be evaluated; giving priority first to student achievement in literacy and numeracy, especially in years 1-8'.

In order to meet this requirement, teachers will need to use a range of assessment practices. Some of these might be norm-referenced assessment tools, however they are not required to be.

How do I know an Overall Teacher Judgment is right (that is, valid and reliable?)

Teachers will make their Overall Teacher Judgments using their knowledge of each student and suitable assessment information. Guidance on aligning the most popular assessment tools to the standards will be provided to help this. At the same time, schools will be strengthening their moderation processes to support teachers collegially to make these judgments.

Read about the alignment of assessment tools >>

Read about moderation >>

What is the difference between national averages/norms and national standards?

This is a question which is fundamental to understanding the purpose of 'national-standards'

'The New Zealand Curriculum suggests a range of achievement for each year level and a rate of progress. National Standards set out what can reasonably be expected of most students by the end of the designated period or year.' National averages, or national norms, are based on what the average student of a given age can do; standards are derived from the curriculum and relate to what all students should be able to be able to learn across all areas of the curriculum.

Read an article about the model used to develop the standards, on the Education Gazette website >>

Are there specific tests which teachers must use when assessing students in relation to standards?

No. Schools and teachers can select from the range of tools available. They should decide the assessment programme (mix of assessment information to gather) that best suits their context/needs. This may include rich information from day-to-day activities, student self-and peer-assessment as well as more formal assessment tools.

Will the need to make overall teacher judgments result in more work?

Consistent with effective assessment practice, assessment evidence should be gathered as an integral part of the teaching and learning process and used to determine next teaching and learning steps, plan classroom programmes, and support students to use assessment information to inform their own learning. Making an overall teacher judgment and reporting performance in relation to standards is not a separate activity but rather a process of drawing on, and applying, the evidence in order to make a ‘best fit’ judgment about level of achievement and rate of progress.

When deciding where performance sits in relation to National Standards, teachers should draw on evidence gathered from multiple sources including information gained from day to day activities, interactions and observations, student self and peer-assessment, as well as data from the more formal assessment tools.

Look at the range of tools available on the assessment tool selector on TKI assessment >>

Read a definition of peer assessment on TKI assessment website >>

What should I do if formal testing is inconsistent with what I believe to be the appropriate level of performance based on day to day interactions, observations, and classroom work?

Formal assessment tools which have been aligned to National Standards, if used appropriately, are a useful external reference point against which to consider all other evidence. They may help to confirm the judgment you have reached on the basis of all other evidence. Alternatively, where there is inconsistency, this should prompt further enquiry.

How will I know which tool is the best tool for my purpose?

An Assessment Selector Tool has been developed to support teachers and school leaders to find out about, and select, assessment tools appropriate to their particular needs.

In addition, the Ministry has an ongoing programme of work to align the most commonly used tools to the National Standards.

Look at the range of tools available on the assessment tool selector on TKI assessment >>

What role will e-asTTle play in relation to National Standards? Will the use of e-asTTle be mandatory?

e-asTTle , the online version of asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning), is a resource for assessing mathematics, reading, and writing for years 5-10 and curriculum levels 2-6. The use of e-asTTle is not mandatory. Schools and teachers can select whatever tools they wish to use from the range of tools available. They should decide the assessment programme (mix of assessment information to gather) that best suits their context/needs.

Read more about curriculum levels >>

Are the National Standards likely to undermine the role of teacher professional judgment?

No. The process of developing overall teacher judgments relative to the standards will enhance the role of teacher professional judgment.

A number of supports are in place to assist teachers in making an OTJ. The TKI assessment online website contains Assessment Tools and Resources and Moderation sections, which have useful information. The intention is that not only will the role of teacher professional judgment be enhanced, but its quality will improve.

Visit the TKI assessment online website >>

If you have any other questions on National Standards, please email us at the Ministry of Education through national.standards@education.govt.nz.

Reporting

If a school has always reported to its parents and community in terms of its own school targets and if that school aligns its own targets to National Standards, may that school continue to:

  1. report to parents and school community in relation to its own targets, and
  2. use its own targets in its school charter instead of National Standard targets?

For example, when reporting to parents and school community, Kiwi Park School has always reported in relation to ‘Kiwi Park targets’, may it continue to do so and include ‘Kiwi Park targets’ in its school charter, provided that the ‘Kiwi Park targets’ are aligned to National Standards targets?

The National Administration Guidelines make it clear that, in terms of the legal requirement, a school:

...is required to use National Standards and/or Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori to: (a) report to students and their parents on the student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards and/or Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori. Reporting to parents in plain language in writing must be at least twice a year (NAG 2A).

Advice and guidance to schools in relation to reporting to parents makes it clear that the NAGs set the requirements each school must follow but that the way in which these requirements are fulfilled is for the school to decide, in consultation with its community (see Principles of effective reporting).

In light of this, teachers at Kiwi Park school could report in relation to ‘Kiwi Park targets’ when they “report to parents in plain language in writing … at least twice a year” (NAG 2A), provided that:

  • ‘Kiwi Park targets’ are aligned to National Standards and/or Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori, and this alignment is made clear to, and understood by, students and their parents, family, whānau, and communities
  • it is clear to each student and their parents where the student’s progress and achievement sits in relation to National Standards/Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori
  • the means of reporting is consistent with the needs and expectations for reporting of the school community.

All school charters must include National Standards and/or Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori targets. Kiwi Park School will be required to explicitly state National Standards targets in its charter and later report against these targets in the context of its analysis of variance and annual reporting. However, this does not preclude Kiwi Park school including reference to ‘Kiwi Park targets’ to show how its National Standards targets link to its own targets, if it wishes.

If you have any other questions on National Standards, please email us at the Ministry of Education through: national.standards@education.govt.nz.

Read more about The National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) >>

What are boards required to report in relation to National Standards/Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori?

Boards will be required to set National Standards targets in their charters and report against these targets in annual reports (1 March for annual charter update to be provided to the Ministry).

The new National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) require schools to:

  • report school-level data in the Board’s Annual Report on National Standards under three headings:
    • school strengths and identified areas for improvement
    • the basis for identifying areas for improvement
    • planned actions for lifting achievement
  • report in the Board’s Annual Report on:
    • the numbers and proportions of students at, above, below or well below the standards, including by Māori, Pasifika, gender, and by year level (where this does not breach an individual's privacy)
    • how students are progressing against the standards as well as how they are achieving.

Read more about The National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) >>

What reports do schools give parents?

The National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) require schools to 'report to students and their parents on the student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards. Reporting to parents in plain language must be at least twice a year'.

From February 2010 teachers have been required to report to parents in writing, at least twice a year, about how their child is progressing and achieving in relation to the reading, writing, and mathematics standards.

The National Administration Guidelines require twice-yearly reporting of both progress and achievement, but we would expect the focus of the mid-year report to be on progress in relation to the standards, with the end-of-year report to focus on the summary of their child's progress and achievement in relation to the standards.

How prescriptive is the report format?

Schools will not need to use any particular graph or report template for their National Standards reporting to parents. Schools can use the reporting guidelines available on TKI to develop their own or modify their existing reports to specifically include reporting against National Standards in reading, writing, and mathematics.

The Ministry recommends that all reports on reading, writing, and mathematics contain:

  • the student's current learning goals
  • the student's progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards/Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori
  • what the school will do to support the student's learning
  • what parents, families, whānau, and communities can do to support the child's learning
  • results from assessments the student has undertaken.

The supplied templates are examples which can be used if desired, but schools are free to develop their own format or adapt an existing one.

See examples and templates of reports on TKI >>

Why report twice a year?

When we consulted with parents, family, whānau, and communities on National Standards, there was a strong appeal for regular reports on their children's progress and achievement. Reporting twice a year fulfills this request. Schools may wish to treat the mid-year (or through-year) report as a progress report rather than a comprehensive report.

We already report more than twice a year - should we be doing less?

Many schools report more often than twice a year. We don't want to restrict the frequency with which schools report to parents. Twice a year reporting to parents is a minimum requirement. Every school's parent and whānau community is different and has different needs. Finding out what works for your community and responding appropriately is the most important thing.

What about those students who are not meeting the standards year-on-year, yet making progress? This could be really demoralising.

It is important that students and parents have a realistic understanding of their progress and achievement and remain motivated to learn. Reporting and celebrating progress is important, as is indicating the possibilities of achieving higher levels in the future and what is needed to achieve them.

The undesirable labeling of students is not an issue introduced by the standards. Teachers are professionals and as such know the importance of using appropriate language that motivates students.

Schools have flexibility in the way they can report student progress and achievement in reporting to address concerns that were raised by parents during consultation about labeling students.

Do schools have to report on other subjects as well?

Yes. Schools must report to students and their parents on individual student's achievement and progress for the whole curriculum.

Do I have to compare students to their class/school/other schools?

No. The only requirement is to assess their progress and achievement against the National Standards.

Will we have to spend more time teaching and assessing reading, writing, and mathematics? What will happen to the rest of the curriculum?

Reading, writing, and mathematics should not be taught in isolation. Teachers need to give students rich and diverse curriculum contexts to apply and fully develop their literacy and numeracy skills and understandings.

Students need appropriate achievement levels in reading, writing, and mathematics to be able to access the broad curriculum outcomes, including those of the values, key competencies, and the learning areas.

How will we help people who don't read, write, or understand written reporting?

You are required to send a written report to each student's parents, but if they struggle to read it, you will probably want to arrange to talk to them about it.

How are we going to show progress against the standards, given we only have a four-point scale to work with?

The four-point scale has been designed to show reliable differentiation in teachers’ judgments in relation to the standards, in school level data.

However, schools are not required to use the four-point scale in reports to parents. Progress against individual student’s learning goals in relation to the standards can be shown in a variety of ways, for example, teachers may use samples of student’s work and many assessment tools have more finely differentiated scales which can be used to show more detailed progress in specific areas.

See some examples and templates of reports on TKI assessment website >>

How do we allow the time for Year 6/Year 8 students who are leaving, to use the information from their end of year reports and how do we provide it to their next school?

Ongoing parent, family, whānau, community, and student involvement, along with a mid/through-year report, will ensure a process of continual learning and ‘no surprises’ in the end of year report. Schools should also provide the student’s next school with the most relevant reporting information, including the next steps the students are working towards.

Do schools have to use a graph or other visual showing progress and achievement against expected standards or will a plain language comment be enough?

Schools can choose whether or not to include graphs in their reports, as long as the report clearly shows progress and achievement against National Standards.

Some of the sample templates available include graphical as well as written presentation of information.

See some examples and templates of reports on TKI assessment website >>

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

Schools are expected to consult with their parents, whānau, and communities to determine how they would most like to receive information in relation to National Standards/Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori. There are a number of approaches that may be taken, but the student’s progress and achievement in relation to the expected standard needs to be clear.

Terms currently being used to describe progress and achievement in reports on individual students include:

  • using the four-point scale (above, at, below, well-below the expected standard)
  • adapting terms used in relation to previous benchmarks (such as working towards, working at, working above or approaching, meeting, exceeding the expected standard)
  • identifying the standard which best describes the student's achievement (for example, the expected standards 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 that were raised by parents during consultation about labelling students or losing reporting practices they were already satisfied with. They also allow schools the flexibility to report in ways that meet the needs of their particular communities.

Most of our parents are Pasifika and have English as a second language. Should we report to them in their first languages?

Reporting in plain language is part of the requirement. Schools are expected to consult with their parents, whānau, and communities to determine how they would most like to receive information in relation to National Standards. This may include reporting in a parent, family, whānau, or community member’s first language, if this was helpful, possible, and what the community wanted. The most important thing is that schools work with their communities to develop ways to communicate with parents, family, whānau, and communities who know little English. For example, this could be done through face-to-face meetings where a support person can help interpret the discussion.

Which standard should student’s progress and achievement be reported against when two standards could apply e.g. a student is in Year 4 and has had their 36 months anniversary of time at school?

The National Standards are signposts of expected progress and achievement that apply after a student has been at school for one, two, or three years. From year 4, the standards apply to the year level (year 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). There may be some overlaps for example a child may have been at school for three years, but be in a year 4 class.

When reporting to parents, teachers should decide which standard is most suitable to report in relation to that student’s performance. The teacher may decide it is suitable to report in relation to both standards. There is flexibility when reporting to parents, as long as a student’s progress and achievement in relation to the relevant standard, or standards, is clear.

For the purpose of reporting school level data to their Boards, using the four point scale of above, at, below, and well below the standard the school can choose whether to report against only one relevant standard, or both. Whatever the school decides it is important that there is a consistent policy within the school so that data is consistent between students, and year on year. Schools may wish to annotate their report to their board indicating how they handled students in the situation described above.

Read further guidance about this in a paper entitled Variation in school entry dates - Implications for timing of overall teacher judgments (OTJs) and reporting. >>

Students with special education needs

Will students with special education needs be assessed against the standards?

Most students with special education needs will be able to progress against and achieve the standards, and their progress and achievement will be reported in relation to the standards.

Boards will report school-level progress and achievement for all students in relation to the National Standards, including students who have special education needs.

However, boards can report the progress and achievement of students with very significant learning disabilities separately. The small number of students who have very significant learning disabilities are funded through the Ongoing and Reviewable Resource Schemes (ORRS) or receiving Supplementary Learning Support (SLS) and are likely to learn long term within Level 1 of The New Zealand Curriculum can be reported separately in the board's report of school-level data.

For this group of students, progress will be assessed against the standards as part of their Individual Education Programme (IEP) processes and boards of trustees will report on these students' progress separately in their charters and annual reports.

Read the fact sheet about students with special education needs and National Standards >>

If you have any other questions on National Standards, please email us at the Ministry of Education through national.standards@education.govt.nz.

English language learners and National Standards

Progress and achievement for English language learners in reading and writing will be reported to parents against National Standards. It is recommended that schools also assess and report the progress and achievement of English language learners in relation to the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP), as the Progressions provide a guide to typical language learning pathways for students learning English as an additional language.

For years 1–4 students

Students working within foundation stage and stage 1 of ELLP should be tracked and monitored, and have their progress reported to parents and students using the ELLP as well as in relation to the National Standards.

For years 5–8 students

Students working within foundation stage, stage 1, or stage 2 of ELLP should be tracked and monitored, and have their progress reported to parents and students using the ELLP as well as in relation to the National Standards.

English language learners and Mathematics Standards

Students learn mathematics through language and, to a great extent, display their knowledge and understanding of mathematics through language. At all times principals and teachers will need to be cognisant of the needs of English language learners and the implications of this for displaying their understanding of mathematics.

Professional development and support using the English Language Learning Progressions is available for teachers with English language learners.

Some students who come to our school are still at Stage One or Two of the English Language Progressions despite having had all or at least three years of English-medium schooling. Can we report their progress using the Progressions instead of the reading and writing National Standards?

No. The students have been in English-medium schooling in NZ for more than three years, and so their progress and achievement must be reported in relation to the National Standards.

However, it is very appropriate for your school to use the Progressions to track and monitor progress in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and to determine next teaching steps.

Your school could report progress to parents, families, whānau, and communities using the Progressions as well as National Standards. This would enable you to show the progress these students are making, to show how their achievement is getting closer to cohort and to talk to the students themselves and their parents, families, whānau, and communities about how you can all work together to support accelerated progress.

Do we have to report to the parents of international fee paying students on their progress and achievement in relation to National Standards?

Yes. Progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards must be reported to parents, families, whānau, and communities for all students, including international students.

For more information on English language learners visit the ESOL website >>

Resources

I’ve noticed that the wording in the new Reading and Writing wall charts has changed from the National Standards document.

In these two wall charts (distributed to schools 9 May 2011), there is a change in wording from ‘towards level 2/3/4’ to ‘early level 2/3/4.’ The minor change to the wording came about in response to feedback from principals and teachers to ensure consistency in language across both the literacy standards and mathematics standards. However, there is no change in the intent or meaning of the replaced words.

View The New Zealand Curriculum Reading and Writing National Standards wall charts, and other literacy and numeracy resources for parents, families, whānau, and communities>>

If you have any other questions on National Standards, please email us at the Ministry of Education through national.standards@education.govt.nz.

Updated on: 19 Jun 2013


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