Standards drama rolls out backstage

March 2011


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A teacher’s guide to the Alignment of Standards project.

Imagine you’re in a drama class, doing the Scottish play which cannot be named. How does that class make sense academically?

The drama class would probably be built around several NCEA standards. Those standards in turn need to tick boxes against the New Zealand Curriculum.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and the Ministry of Education are revamping the standards to make better sense to teachers and students from Year 11 to Year 13 (levels 1–3).

So, the drama teacher says “today we will be completing Achievement Standard 90006 by performing a piece from the bard”. The students play their roles and act out the assessment of Achievement Standard 90006 on the stage.

^^^What are the technicalities of this widespread standards review?^^^

The Alignment of Standards project, currently under way, is reviewing current standards and aligning them to the new New Zealand Curriculum.

This project is linked to a wider standards review programme of work which addresses issues of duplication, credit parity, consistency, fairness and coherence for all achievement and unit standards on the Directory of Assessment Standards.

The Alignment of Standards project started life in 2009 with the assistance of the national secondary subject associations.

The initial piece of work was to develop in each subject a matrix of standards considered necessary to cover the achievement objectives at level 6 to 8 of the New Zealand Curriculum for assessment for qualifications purposes.

The next piece of work was to look at all the current achievement and unit standards linked to the New Zealand Curriculum, review, re-write and draft any new standards as necessary. One of the key changes at this stage was the decision that standards linked to the New Zealand Curriculum would largely be written as achievement standards.

Unit standards in high tertiary use were also reviewed and any links to the New Zeaalnd Curriculum removed. While those standards are now tertiary-focused, they are still available for school use and can contribute credits towards NCEAs.

Sector consultation, development of assessment support material and trialling the draft standards in schools are all processes contributing to the development of the final drafts of the standards.

Also associated with the Alignment of Standards project has also been a review of level 1 NCEA. This review has resulted in a change to the level 1 NCEA literacy and numeracy requirement (see insert).

The Alignment of Standards project also includes the development of internal and external assessment resources (see below).

Progress to date

Level 1: by the start of 2011 school year, the aligned level 1 achievement standards will all be registered. They have been available to the sector in draft form since May 2010 but were not registered as they were being finalised and were proceeding through the quality assurance processes.

Level 2: consultation on the level 2 draft standards has been completed.

See below for the timelines for the completion of the levels 2 and 3 standards.

Transition arrangements for level 1–3 internally assessed standards

Transition arrangements will be in place when the new internally assessed achievement standards become available at each level. There will be a one-year transition period during which the old internally assessed achievement and unit standards may still be used.  The transition year is designed to provide schools with enough time for planning for internally assessed standards, if they have not yet engaged with the New Zealand Curriculum.

Sample internal assessment resource for NCEA level 1

The internally assessed assessment resources for level 1 have been developed and trialled in schools by Learning Media Limited, on behalf of the Ministry of Education.

NZQA has supported this project by developing annotated exemplars of student work. Where trials have been successful in gathering evidence for the new standards, the NZQA moderators have selected aspects of this evidence to help illustrate key aspects of the standard when making assessment decisions at the grade boundary.

These annotated exemplars are now progressively being published on the NZQA subject specific web pages:

The exemplars are based on the draft standards but they will be replaced by new evidence that comes through the moderation cycle from 2011.

External resources for level 1 and beyond

Sample external assessments and/or exemplars for all level 1 subjects have been developed, critiqued and subsequently trialled by groups of students across the country. The outcome of this work has progressively been published on the subject-specific pages of the NZQA website from 1 December 2010, as the aligned standards are being registered.

Material for each externally assessed level 1 standard includes a sample assessment, an assessment schedule, and a set of annotated exemplars of student work that show performance at different grade levels. This material can be downloaded for in-school use.

Work on developing and trialling sample assessment resources for level 2 is under way, and working drafts will be available on TKI from May 2011. Initial work on developing level 3 sample assessments will commence in January 2011.

To find the resources, type: followed by the subject name, for example:


Level 2
Consultation on standards Aug-Sept 2010
Post-consultation drafts on TKI Feb 2011
School planning drafts, with draft assessment resources on TKI May 2011
Standards, assessment resources and exemplars published Dec 2011
Level 3
Pre-consultation drafts on TKI Dec 2010
Consultation on standards Aug-Sept 2011
Post-consultation drafts on TKI Feb 2012
School planning drafts, with draft assessment resources, on TKI May 2012
Standards, assessment resources and exemplars published Dec 2012