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The standards for reading and writing address the complexity and challenge of the texts and tasks that students need to engage with in order to meet the demands of the New Zealand Curriculum. Students read and write texts as they develop the key competencies across the eight learning areas of the curriculum. However, students need to do more than simply read and write: they need to be able to use their reading and writing as interactive tools to meet specific learning purposes across the curriculum. This means that students read and write texts in ways that help them organise their thinking, construct and create meaning, communicate information and ideas in print and electronic texts, and reveal their developing knowledge of content across the curriculum. As their expertise develops, students use their reading and writing to become more reflective about their learning.

The standards address the overall purpose of reading and writing in learning. They do not distinguish all the items of knowledge or specific skills and attitudes that students use as they read or write. The knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students draw on as readers and writers are described in the Literacy Learning Progressions.

The standards make the reading and writing demands of the curriculum explicit so that the teacher, parents, family, whānau, communities, and student can share clear information about whether the student’s competence in reading and writing is enabling them to learn across the curriculum at the expected level. The standards also help the teacher, parents, family, whānau, communities, and student to understand whether the student is making the expected progress over time.

In the early years, students engage mostly with texts and tasks that have been deliberately chosen to advance their literacy learning, but as they progress through school, they are increasingly required to read and write texts for other learning purposes.

As language is central to learning and English is the medium for most learning in The New Zealand Curriculum, the importance of literacy in English cannot be overstated.

The New Zealand Curriculum, page 16

Reading and writing are integral to the learning area of English and to the key competencies of thinking and using language, symbols, and texts. Because of this, many teachers provide literacy instruction for their year 4–8 students mainly when teaching English. In this context, teachers focus on choosing texts and tasks for literacy learning, identifying the literacy challenges that their students will encounter, and making them explicit. They plan ways to enable the students to meet those challenges and learn from them.

However, in other learning areas of the curriculum, the literacy demand is largely implicit. Students are required to read and write texts for an increasing variety of learning purposes, but the specific literacy demands of both the texts and the tasks are not always made clear to them.

The standards guide teachers in making these literacy demands explicit. When teachers are clear about the reading and writing demands of each curriculum area and students’ lived experiences (in relation to culture, language, and identity), they can deliberately integrate the teaching of literacy with the teaching of curriculum content in appropriate ways.

In order to make an overall teacher judgment as to whether their students are meeting the standard for their year, teachers will use several sources of information. When making overall teacher judgments, it is not enough for teachers to consider how well a student is reading and writing. Teachers need to specifically consider how well each student is using reading and writing as interactive tools to enable them to learn in all curriculum areas.

Published on: 19 Oct 2009