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School stories – a variety of approaches to assessment

On this page you can find stories from schools who have thought carefully about their teaching, learning and assessment systems during and post National Standards. They have chosen different paths that suit their contexts and communities. Although you'll be aware that it's not possible to directly translate processes and practices from one context to another, we hope that these stories may provide ideas and inspiration and directions for change. 

The message from each of the schools is that none of these stories is of a finished and final product. Their ideas and systems are in a constant state of review and evaluation, always in the service of improved learning for their students.


Cobden School – Developing a Graduate Profile to underpin teaching, learning and assessment

Cobden School is a small full primary school in Greymouth, on the west coast of the South Island, with a student population of around 150 students.

Cobden School.

This story illustrates how Cobden School has worked to improve teaching and learning for the students in its community. School leaders are happy to share the school story with others but stress that each school will have to find its own pathway to improvement, based on the community, its children and their needs. "It's about our kids."

In this small primary school in Greymouth, school leaders have chosen not to be a part of a local Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako, preferring to collaborate within their own school community to improve teaching and learning. They are, however, part of NPDL (New Pedagogies for Deep Learning).

The Principal, Noula Markham, and the DP, Mandy Dodds, have been working alongside staff on the development of a Graduate Profile over the past couple of years, after having investigated how to best serve the needs of their learners and their community. They were determined to improve outcomes for their students. They read a wide range of educational research, sought advice, visited other schools and deliberately targeted Leadership and Assessment PLD for themselves and their staff. All these actions informed their decision for change.

Developing the Graduate Profile

In the development of the Graduate Profile the school initially consulted with stakeholders – students, teachers, parents and whānau – on what they wanted for their school, a process that took a number of months. Both leaders are adamant that consultation shouldn’t be rushed, that it takes time, that it’s essential to involve all stakeholders so that they too feel commitment to what is developed.

When the survey responses were consolidated it was surprising that there was considerable alignment between all stakeholders, students, teachers and parents and whānau. Responses were developed into 10 goals, and from there formed into a Graduate Profile (see below), comprising the dispositions desired in Cobden School students. These dispositions align with the values, principles and key competencies outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum. The graduate profile includes 10 indicators underpinning each goal.  This formed a rubric that includes progressions, emergent to developing to proficient. Of particular note is a description of what each goal looks like for adults within the school community. The school is adamant that everybody should be invested in and striving to live up to the values embedded within the profile, children and adults alike.

Download a copy of the Graduate Profile below.

PDF icon. Cobden - Graduate Profile August 2017 (PDF 81 KB)

Using the Graduate Profile

For classrooms

The Graduate Profile underpins teaching and learning in the classroom.

  • Senior students select their own goals from the Graduate Profile. These are evaluated by students each term. Students collect evidence of attainment.
  • For junior students, the GP is used daily as a formative assessment of dispositions for learning.

For school leaders

This year leaders and teachers are reviewing the curriculum, so the Graduate Profile drives the curriculum and reporting to parents in plain English on the "whole child", skills and strategies to be learners.

This information will then be collated from a whole school perspective and reported to the BOT.

For the Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees has insisted that the Graduate Profile should be reflected in the strategic plan. Strategic goals are underpinned by the Profile. Recent communication from ERO expressed support for the school’s efforts to incorporate the "front end" of the curriculum into strategic planning in order to address learners’ needs.

At risk register

Underpinning the Graduate Profile is the At Risk Register. Through both formative and summative assessment, teachers identify students at risk of not reaching the level required to enable them to fully access learning across the curriculum. Then using the risk monitor sheet (attached), specific behaviours are identified, goals are set and differentiated support is implemented for students to make progress. Deliberate strategies and actions are identified to support the students. The Risk Monitor Sheet is formally referenced three times a year to check on progress, adjust strategies if necessary and to identify the strategies that make a difference for these students. This process is used for at-risk students and all Special Needs students are monitored through their individual IEPs.

Download a copy of the Risk Monitor sheet below.

PDF icon. At Risk Matrix Master (PDF 81 KB)

What has happened as a result?

Student progress and achievement

Results since the Graduate Profile was implemented have shown considerable shifts in student dispositions for learning, and in their progress and achievement. Teachers also note a marked increase in student confidence. The number of students deemed to be at risk has significantly decreased. Of the reduced number of students on the register in 2018 it is hoped and expected that they will make similar improvements.

There is collaboration between Cobden School and the local secondary schools. Year 8 students attend John Paul II High School for weekly science lessons, in return for singing lessons by the Cobden School singing teacher. Senior students attend Greymouth High School for technology. The secondary schools have reported that students coming from Cobden School are confident, critical thinkers.

Teaching capabilities

Leaders and teachers have worked really hard to develop consistency of teaching practice across years 1 to 8.  The Graduate Profile forms part of the appraisal process, with the expectation that an inquiry goal should come from the GP.

Student voice is frequently collected and used to improve teaching and learning within the school. Some teachers were early adopters of the changes within the school and transparency about this allowed respect for others who took longer to accept the changes. However, insisting on a steady and manageable pace of change is leading to consolidated, embedded and sustainable practice.

School culture

The school has developed a culture of collaboration and sharing across all staff – leadership, teaching, and administration.

  • The Principal and the Deputy Principal share an office, as do the school secretary and the Principal’s PA.
  • Teachers work collaboratively to support each other to support student improvement. Senior leaders are part of the team.
  • There is no stigma to sharing problems of practice. Teachers take shared responsibility for student progress and achievement.
  • There is opportunity for ongoing reflection on progress, as a whole staff and within teams. This reflection is marked by professional trust and respect.
  • The school hires staff who fit in with the school’s collaborative philosophy.

Next steps

Ongoing school review is investigating changes to be made post National Standards. The school is in the process of setting up sub committees to explore how individual curriculum areas will be incorporated into the Graduate Profile.

Infographic of the Cobden School story

Take a look at the creative and informative infographic created by Cobden School to present their story to the Education Review Office. They used Piktochart software.
Select the image or download the whole infographic.

       Select the image to view at full size.

PDF icon. Cobden School infographic ERO.docx (PDF 1 MB)

With thanks to Noula Markham, Principal, and Mandy Dodds, Deputy principal for sharing their story.


Devonport Primary School – Moving forward with PaCT

Devonport School is a year 1–6 primary school situated on the North Shore of Auckland. It has a student population of around 400.

This is our story of our approach to assessment in literacy and numeracy. In particular, it is my approach, as Principal, to assessment, but I do have good evidence of staff, family and student buy-in. 

We have been a PaCT user since 2015 – reading, writing, and mathematics, all students. We are a PaCT support school and we contribute to two advisory groups concerning PaCT. It works well for us.

What is important to us at DPS?

  • Student achievement – equity and excellence
  • We are passionate about assessment for learning, student agency and building high levels of student assessment capability
  • Responsive curriculum – responsive to interests, learning needs, local happenings, citizen scientists, STEM, cultural responsiveness, “hands on”
  • Links within and across the curriculum, rich tasks, real reasons to write, etc.
  • Building Learning Power to develop pupil capacity to learn and enable students to talk about  themselves as learners
  • Ensuring high levels of teacher assessment capability – using data to inform our future thinking and our inquiry. We think we use assessment flexibly and wisely.

We capture all of this in the graphic below, and you can see that we think that it gives us a great overview of the whole NZC, with a few high level concepts that span the entire detail of the curriculum. This allows students, teachers and parents to keep in mind a holistic view of what we want learners to gain from learning across the curriculum.

    Select the image to expand to full view.

How we are using PACT

  • We have been a PaCT school since 2015. We started using it with writing in order to improve our confidence in our OTJs. We started with writing because we felt this was our least reliable assessment
  • Maths introduced in 2016
  • Reading introduced in 2017
  • Data on every child is entered twice a year – interim judgement and end of year
  • PaCT was used for the first time in 2017 for reporting to parents

How we introduced each PaCT subject area

  • We discussed the descriptor for each of the aspects and what each entailed (whole staff). This lead us to have a staff-wide, common interpretation of terminology
  • Used the exemplars to talk about progression and the difference between each aspect
  • Discussed where we would find the evidence for each aspect  what would the aspect look like in our broader curriculum
  • Shared resources, success stories and failures!
  • Dedicated time so we could help each other:
    • to moderate and discuss samples of work and how they related to the descriptors
    • to listen to each other to appreciate each others perspective.

Using PaCT to build our assessment capability

Staff need ways of thinking simply about the progress and achievement of students in their class – who has made good progress, who has not, for whom do I need to learn how to support more effectively? PACT provides us with excellent, simple graphical devices to shape and understanding of these issues in our classes.

For example:

Class overview

To the right is the overview of one class for one PaCT subject area. The overall performance of the class can be viewed and students who are not at expected level, for example, can be identified. As of May 2018 PaCT has been revised to reflect curriculum levels rather than “after...years”.

Select the image to expand to full view.

Individual Student Progress

Below is the data for one individual student in one learning area (writing) The question is, why has the student’s progress stalled? Which aspects are stronger? Which may need focused teacher input?

The reports to the parents comprise the PaCT report for each subject. We have helped parents to understand the Learning Progressions through information meetings, reference to the online exemplars, discussions in 3 way conferences, and with older students being enabled to talk about their PaCT report.

Select the image to expand to full view

How PaCT has helped us with the things that are important to us

The tool has highlighted for us, as teachers and leaders:

  • Breadth and links to the wider curriculum. Our curriculum has developed accordingly.
  • The importance of the exemplars and annotations.
  • What is expected at each level - what is progression in each area?
  • Gaps in our interpretation of the curriculum.
  • The need for rich conversations with colleagues so that we deepen our common understandings of progress within and across subject areas.
  • The PaCT can be used as a learning tool - gaps feed into planning, create exemplars for the students, etc.
  • STEM within curriculum helped here - teachers knowing what progression looked like across the whole curriculum
  • The more you use it, the more you get out of it.

What do teachers think about using Pact?

I asked them some questions:

  • Since first using the Pact tool do you:
    • Feel more positive about using it:              62%
    • About the same:                                      38%
    • Less positive:                                            0%
  • Did you notice any gaps in your teaching when analysing the data from PaCT?
    • Certain parts of statistics and geometry. Strand maths not at the same level as number
    • Not so much gaps, more like areas that haven’t been covered as yet. I also found this difficult making assessments on things I hadn’t taught.
    • Yes – analysis of statistical data
    • Yes
    • Covering all aspects – Geometry, statistics and measurement were areas I hadn’t covered. Using statistics across other areas of maths. i.e. graphing patterns in numbers to see relationships
    • Yes. The scope of the maths standard.
  • What professional learning would you like to see in the future relating to PACT?
    • Moderation:                                 37.5%
    • Use in planning:                           37.5%
    • Where to access rich tasks:           12.5%
    • Working with others:                     25%

Overall, this seems to me to be a very positive reaction by the staff to Pact. This has been recently confirmed with an ERO review.

Sharing information with parents

We have a simple system of sharing information with parents, using the PACT reports illustrated above:

  • 3 way conferences based on students’ own goals
  • Reporting review and parent consultation sessions
  • Parent information sessions
  • PaCT report will be sent home to parents/whānau at the end of 2018.
  • Parent information sessions to help them understand the new reporting.

Parents tell us that they like:

  • The greater detail that is contained about their child’s achievement
  • The link to the Learning Progressions (shared with them)
  • That they can see progress over time
  • About their child rather than a comparison to others.

Sharing information with the Board and community

The PACT reports provide the basis for sharing progress information with the Board and wider community, along with commentary about the analysis and interpretation.

Select the image to expand to full view.

What we are currently grappling with

  • How do we support our parents who do not readily access the online information about the Learning Progressions? Do the new reports give enough information for them?
  • Continuing with PaCT – changes coming (reference to levels, a different approach to sharing with parents)
  • Assessment of other learning areas
  • Learning through play - we have taken an “action stations” approach – how will we assess/ record?
  • Assessment of key competencies

With thanks to Beverley Booth, principal, for sharing her story.


Leeston Consolidated School – Using rubrics to assess aspects of the nature of science

Leeston Consolidated School is a year 1 to 6 primary school on the outskirts of Christchurch, with a student population of around 400.

The leaders and teachers at Leeston Consolidated School have been working with Maree O’Boyle, primary science facilitator from UC Education Plus in Canterbury on teaching, learning and assessment in science.

The school was keen to build teachers’ confidence and capability and understanding of the Nature of Science-Science Capabilities, in order to develop the Science Capabilities in their students.  They applied for Ministry of Education PLD funding to do this.   They were allocated 100 hours from Term 2 last year and have been working with Maree since then.  Professional learning alongside staff to meet the school’s needs includes class team teaching, observing-mentoring, Science Inquiry learning conversations, staff meetings and Teacher Only Day, guiding and supporting the Lead Teacher in updating the Science Curriculum based on the NZC, assessment and moderation.  

Teaching and learning has been concentrating on the Nature of Science – Science Capabilities strand in the curriculum, through the lenses of observational drawing, using scientific vocabulary and asking questions. Meaningful science has been taught so that students can develop these skills and processes while engaging and recording their learning of scientific experiments.  Students’ assessment data has been recorded using an observational drawing master sheet developed by Warren Bruce and Maree O’Boyle (see below). Seesaw, a digital portfolio tool, is used to record the responses of the junior students who are not yet writing. Through this process of context, content and critique, the school aims to foster in students an investigatory scientific mindset.

Download the observational drawing master sheet below: 

PDF icon. Observation-Vocabulary-Questioning Sheet (PDF 186 KB)

Students are assessed against rubrics adapted by Maree and Warren from the Science Exemplar Matrices (see below) which detail a progression of learning from curriculum level 1 to level 5. The rubric uses the metaphor of the life cycle of a frog (eggs to full cycle) to illustrate development through the curriculum. The rubrics detail the expectations of students at each level and enable teachers to assess students’ capability and progress. Students are assessed at the beginning of the teaching, then again at the end. The school divides each curriculum level into beginning and proficient, so that progress within a curriculum level can be documented and celebrated.

Download the rubrics below:

PDF icon. Example Assessment Rubrics (PDF 639 KB)

Careful moderation is carried out across the school, focussing primarily on the work of the priority learners identified in each class. Teachers find that the conversations and discussions in science inquiry and moderation sessions support them not only in the accurate assessment of the work of all students in their classes but in getting to know their learners and furthering their science curriculum knowledge. The sessions also enable the school to collect moderated exemplars of student work at each level.

The school’s in-depth PLD focus on science has resulted in increased engagement of the students and improved confidence and capability of all teachers.  Science leadership in the school has developed and strengthened along with renewed community interest. The school’s four-year plan for science teaching and learning uses the contextual strands as the vehicle for focusing on the Nature of Science-Science Capabilities which align with the Key Competencies.   Over the four years – expectations are for a minimum 40 science lessons each year, equivalent to one each week - students will cover all the strands of the curriculum and there will be a record of their progression of learning within science.  Improving students’ scientific capabilities is an important part of Leeston School’s drive to develop students who are competent, connected, and actively involved members of their community.

With thanks to Lynda Taylor, Principal, and Maree O'Boyle of UC Education Plus.


Manurewa Intermediate – MI Graduate Profile

Manurewa Intermediate School is a decile 1 multicultural school in South Auckland with approximately 800 students, including 50% Pasifika and 37% Māori.

This is our story of how we developed a Graduate Profile and then shaped an approach to enabling students and teachers to collaborate in making progress towards it visible, assessing that progress, and sharing it with parents, whānau, board and community.

This is just one way – there is no innovation without trial and error. We like to innovate.There are holes and things we already know we will change, things we neglected, room for improvement and things we should have acknowledged and included right at the start.

There is a robust dialogue emerging around "knowledge versus skills". Ours is a curriculum approach based on capabilities rather than knowledge acquisition.

The "why" and the "what" of our Graduate Profile

We have long had our school vision statement – "Adventurous risk takers: persistent focussed achievement" – and our definition of achievement – "The value added to the holistic wellbeing of every child, at every opportunity".

What we have not had is a clear, shared picture of how we would want our graduating students to be – their values, dispositions, and competencies. What would we and their parents/whānau want them to know (apart from being at the expected levels in literacy and numeracy), what would we want them to be? Values and culture evolved as the central essence.

Our Graduate Profile has been designed by parents and whānau, by the students and by us to describe the qualities that we all want to shape in our students in the two years they are with us.

It defines our expectations for the students. It is a set of eight ideas that encompasses the attitudes, values and qualities they have had to exercise and develop over their time with us. We believe, if a student graduates having made good progress in achieving these eight ideas they are well on their way to being successful, happy, well rounded citizens ready for their next step, wherever that may take them.

What we came up with 

          Select the image to expand to full view.


Where it came from

The evolution of the Graduate Profile began with robust discussions within the leadership team. We wanted the front-end of the curriculum to be emphasised. Schools are often "caught up" in the back end. We wanted value added to the holistic wellbeing of every learner. We knew our parents were on board, fully supportive of shaping a picture of our ideal graduate.

As a staff we felt a responsibility to shape our own ideas about how we might work with the community and the students so that we achieved strong buy-in from all.

  • We started by forming a teacher review group and talked through the mechanics. 
  • We then carried out a student survey of four kids from every class - we used students to interview students to keep it authentic.
  • We looked at the responses and there was a lot of talk from students of being Below/At etc, some of values, some of what we call our Keys to Success. But there was no overall sense from the students of the attitudes, values and qualities they wanted from their two years with us.
  • We were left wondering how we could instil the same holistic view of achievement in students that we had.
  • We also wanted students to have a greater sense of control over their achievement. A drive towards student agency will change outcomes. We do not use language of ‘below’ etc with our students. We are trying to change the culture of the place through the Graduate Profile.
  • We spent time as a staff shaping these eight key qualities.
  • We took these ideas back to the students and to the community for discussion and refinement. We then got the go-ahead.  From our community and our kids, we had our vision, our words.

The next step was to figure out how to incorporate these big ideas into our teaching so that they came to have a tangible reality, so that each and every student would know who they were striving to be by the end of Year 8. Each of them would know what their learning goals were, each of them would know exactly how they were progressing towards their goals, each of them would know how and when to reset their goals to aim higher. Each of them would know that all of their teachers were working with them to help them reach their goals.

We came up with our Graduate Profile illustrated above. After two terms of trialling, we are cautiously optimistic. Some of it has required significant changes to our teaching and how we organise for learning across the school.

How do we integrate this into our teaching?

There are three threads, as below.

The explicit teaching means that every staff member does have to be clear about what the eight big ideas in the Graduate Profile actually look like in practice, to be able to make these visible to the students and to be able to give feedback to students about the extent to which the students are exhibiting them. They need to be able to engineer the learning environment to motivate students to build capability in these concepts.

Goal setting is a collaborative exercise in which student, teacher and family discuss which aspect of each concept will be right for the student to shape over the next period of time, and how they will know they are making progress, and how they might use their family and the school for support for that learning.

Measurable outcomes is fundamental to sound pedagogy. Progress needs to be recognisable, self-identified and evidence based.  So many of the goals are idiosyncratic to each student. How progress will be recognized is therefore discussed and agreed as each goal is set. We use a nominal 10-point scale to go alongside the goals to provide a soft reference point for how confident the student is about how well they are progressing. The rating is provided as an outcome of a collaborative, three way conference.

A challenge for the staff is now to be able to better describe the actual dispositional and behavioural qualities that we are looking for in all students by the end of Year 8 – what does it look like on a day to day basis if you are an effective communicator, or respectful, or curious. We are getting there, but still have a little way to go.

       Select the image to view at full size.

Process for Graduate Profile goal setting and tracking

We use an eight step plan, as below, which is pretty self-explanatory. Students are integral to every step of the way.

       Select the image to view at full size.

Measurable outcomes

This rating scale is a simple form, and that is its strength. It provides a basis for personal reflection by each student and collaborative discussions with their teachers, parents and peers. How they then circle where they are at becomes a marker of where they thought they were at a point in time, it allows them to set a direction for further growth, it allows them to discover much more about each quality and then to rate themselves lower on the next reflection time because ‘they now know what they didn’t know’ on the last reflection and realise they have much more to learn. And they see this as a good thing. As do their parents and their teachers. Progress is described in terms of how much more they know about these qualities, as well as how much more they exhibit them.

       Select the image to view at full size.

How we share information with students and whānau 

We value ways we can report across whole communities. Dispositions and attitudes are very important to this. We still do, of course, provide information on the core of literacy and numeracy, but we want to increase the value and important of our graduate qualities so that these are valued as much as the core.  

Our major process is through our Student Involved Conferences (SICs), but this is only successful if we can get whānau to them. We monitor our success carefully as the table below shows and are reasonably happy with the levels of whānau engagement even if we seem to have plateaued over the last five years. We visit homes when we have no success with our invites and do our best to engage with every family.

       Select the image to view at full size.

At the SICs, a goal is based on the qualities from the Graduate Profile, and the self-assessment by student. Through discussion, an action plan of next steps is decided and is typed up on the spot so that the student, teacher and parent are all clear about what happens next.

We also survey and interview both parents and students to ensure that we stay close to their thinking.  We frequently invite parents for celebrations and put a strong emphasis on building relationships and building dispositions together.

Student reports share information on progress on the Graduate Profile and the traditional areas of reading, writing and mathematics.  

       Select the image to view at full size.

       Select the image to view at full size.

Sharing information with the Board and community

While the graduate profile is the pivot around which the teaching and learning revolves, the school does use a good range of standardised assessment tools for literacy and numeracy to be able to inform students as to where their learning is at and to set goals, and for the staff and Board to reflect on changes over the year and set targets for the new year.

Extensive information about student achievement is shared with the Board. At the beginning of each year a comprehensive analysis of all achievement data is carried out and it is all provided for the Board, along with commentary on the conclusions from the analysis for school resourcing and learning enhancement.

Cohort tracking: 2017, year 7 to 2018, year 8

Stanine one two three four five six seven eight nine
Term 1 2017 7 47 107 121 52 22 8 3 1
Percentages 2 12.7 29 32.8 14 5.9 2 0.8 0.2
Term 4 2017 64 72 85 76 35 24 7 3 1
Percentages 17.4 19.6 23.1 20.7 9.5 6.5 1.9 0.8 0.2
Term 1 2018 8 54 99 108 57 22 12 2 0
Percentages 2.2 14.7 27.3 29.8 15.7 6 3.3 0.5 0
Clean Cohort 5 45 84 92 51 19 9 2 0
Percentages 1.6 14.6 27.3 29.9 16.6 6.1 2.9 0.6 0

*Note the difference in totals is due to the transient nature of a number of our students.

  • While significant gains were noted in the year 8 students who had attended Manurewa Intermediate for the full two years 2017–2018, cohort tracking of current year 8s demonstrates the need to consolidate practices to ensure accelerated achievement for all students. The table above indicates the "two steps forward, one step backwards’"nature of beginning and end of year PAT assessment.
  • The number of students sitting at stanine 3–5 is an indication our students start with us approximately one year behind where they should be according to the PATC scale score table.
  • It is important to consider this table from the percentage point of view because the total of students varies from term to term – the "clean cohort" eliminates all students who started after term 1, 2017.

How the school is using assessment flexibility wisely – post National Standards

  • Use student and parent voice
  • Goal setting against Graduate Profile
  • Measurable outcomes – success recognisable and evidenced
  • Explicit teaching
  • Use outside experts to work with staff
  • Staff collaborate for modules and to teach explicitly
  • Students self-assess against the Graduate Profile, based on attributes from the essence statement

The assessment issues the school is currently grappling with

  • Measuring success and progress in competencies
  • Developing student attributes to learning
  • Building ability to self-assess and then know what they need to do to progress
  • Getting parents to conference/report nights – teachers will go to homes
  • Reporting  conference – goal based on disposition from essence document, self-assessment by student, action plan of next steps typed on the spot with input from student, teacher and parent.
  • Next steps are how do we measure perceived progress?

With thanks to Iain Taylor, Principal; and Ben Hutchings, Deputy principal; for sharing their story.


Ormiston Junior College – Using personalised assessment to grow self-regulated learners

Ormiston Junior College (OJC), situated in Flat Bush in East Auckland, is a middle school for students from years 7 to 10 recently established in February 2017. Although the student population is small at the moment the school will eventually accommodate 1000 students.

The college is in a new building, constructed as an ILE (Innovative Learning Environment). The new design of the teaching spaces has allowed the school to develop an innovative approach to teaching and learning.

Approach to teaching and learning

The OJC curriculum has four key components in how they use their time and space as a resource in the ILE. 

  • MAC/Kainga: (Mentor Advisor Coach, Kainga – a gathering)The purpose of this element is to provide personalised support and learning programmes for the holistic development of the learners. There is a particular focus on Social/Emotional Learning, Learning to Learn and Metacognitive skills, knowledge and dispositions for better learning, and Hauora. The key comps are most closely related to this curriculum as are elements of the Health and Social Sciences learning areas.
  • Whānau Ora: (The health of our family) The purpose of this element is to explicitly provide daily opportunities for movement and taha tinana in order to support hauora, but also to support the learners ability to learn and concentrate throughout the day. Again, the key comps and the personal hauroa components of the Health and PE curriculum are covered through this programme.
  • Literacy and numeracy learning labs Our community has one of the highest numbers of immigrant and English language learners in New Zealand. As a middle school, these core skills and how they relate to the rest of the curriculum are vitally important, to ensure we are preparing students for success in accessing and processing information at the senior secondary level. This programme teaches literacy and numeracy with a metacognitive and transdisciplinary focus, and also involves the learners handing in and getting support with work from all other areas of the OJC curriculum.
  • TAIP (Transdisciplinary Authentic Inquiry Projects) Our project based learning curriculum takes up half our timetable. Students complete at least three projects each year that are connected to school-wide big ideas and enduring understandings. Each project must meet the TAIP design principles. All curriculum areas and disciplines are fair game for exploration for the student projects as long as the principles are met.

Learning coach design principles – Learner design principles

In order to assess for learning  and report and tell the story of each child’s learning and progress, a system was needed which allowed each learner to effectively have the entire “scheme” available to them. It was also important that the system/methods we chose allowed students to meet the criteria consistently, but allowed for freedom and flexibility in how the criteria were met for each learner. It was at this point we chose to pursue the concepts of narrative assessment combined with digital badging and micro-credentials to support our vision for high quality assessment for (and ‘as’) learning and reporting to parents. The concept is based on the LRNG process used in the USA and extended and developed for use in the school.

Developing a Graduate Profile

Initially, foundation staff worked to develop a graduate profile based on:

This graduate profile was then used to develop a range of digital learning badges and the criteria for earning them. The progressions for each badge are loosely based on the SOLO taxonomy, awarded at Emerging, Effective and Exemplary levels in a desire to provide a link to the Achieved, Merit, Excellence language of NCEA assessment.  Exemplary criteria are at level 4/5 of the curriculum, where those at levels 3/4 focus on student-centred practices. Some badges are easier than others, and the system always gives students room for improvement, fundamental to the principles of gamification that have been found to encourage student participation and engagement.

The badging system

  • Criteria for badges include skills, knowledge and learning dispositions. Hauora, relationships and integrity are important. The criteria give credit for the application of knowledge, not simply the acquisition.
  • Students "bid" for badges and these are awarded after a process of self, peer and teacher assessment. A fundamental goal is to develop self-regulated learners. Assessment is integrated into the students’ learning experiences.
  • Students curate their own learning through self and peer assessments, and through the presentation of evidence of achievement in learning artefacts. Expectations are that the bidding, pitching and curating of learning and achievement are written in descriptive language to tell a story, far richer than test scores. Narrative assessment provides the context and individualises the circumstances in which the student achieved their learning.
  • Teachers work with the students to ensure that students achieve curriculum coverage in their "bidding" for badges; that is, students cannot choose only those areas that they like or are good at.

Information on student achievement via the badging process is available to parents and whānau via the school’s student management system. They can see that badges are being worked on and when they have been awarded. Progress and achievement information is summarised and digitally available for parents at the end of each term. Criteria for the badges allow teachers to put this information together simply and in a form that the community can understand. The information is digital but can be printed as learning stories should parents and whānau desire.

Examples of badges

Below are some examples from screenshots taken directly from learners' pages on the student management system. (Note: Fringed edges are junior – years 7 and 8 and solid edges are senior – years 9 and 10.)                                                                               

       Select the image to view at full size.

       Select the image to view at full size.

       Select the image to view at full size.

Sharing information with learners, parents, and whānau

Over the course of the term students construct their "learning journey" or narrative assessment. This piece is co-constructed between the TAIP and MAC coaches with the learners leading the process and selecting the learning and meaningful artefacts and goals they will discuss or present. The Learning Journey is constructed at key milestones throughout the term, and is pushed out to families at the end of each term. Writing teacher comments and narrative assessments for the Learning Journeys is a learning focus for staff this year.

This is an example of an end of term 1 narrative assessment for a year 8 student 

  • TAIP Coach comments:
    • ...... was challenged from the start of his TAIP this term as he took some time in committing to a project idea. However, once started, his group progressed well and made some good connections to identified learning areas. ......'s TAIP focused on designing and developing an authentic and fun sporting game. An additional challenge was the ability to conduct research and combine this with practical testing in order to ensure their game benefits health and fitness, which was the main component of their learning area connection. Moving forward ...... recognised that a more concentrated focus at the start of the term will have a positive effect throughout the whole term and this is something he will take into TAIP 2.
  • MAC Coach Comments:
    • This year ...... has focused on continuing to complete his learning to a higher standard with more consistency. His personal goal was to take the initiative and share ideas, questions and to contribute more in a wider variety of situations. He has noticeably begun to do this and seek out opportunities to test himself, and even share his quirky sense of humour more often with the group. ...... still finds speaking in front of groups difficult, but has been rising to the challenge, and has participated in targeted communication skills learning activities, and explaining his thinking more frequently and with less prompting in our MAC. ......’s ability to relate to others beyond his immediate peer group is also growing slightly, and he has been able to support new learners to understand the tasks and technology available at OJC. This is an area that is still not incredibly comfortable for ...... to work on, however his willingness to take steps to get out of his comfort zone, communicate and relate to a wider range of people in a wider range of settings is a great start this term.
    • ......’s next steps are to continue to think about how he shares his ideas both formally and informally, and continue to apply strategies for verbal communication that will also help to make sure his projects or tasks for MAC are completed to the level that he his thinking at, rather than the level he is willing to communicate at.

Other parts of the reporting process 

  •        Select the image to view at full size.

    Regular use of Linc-Ed’s curriculum area goal setting features for our Literacy and Numeracy programme to show progress live and in real time. Teachers can see where each child is at in terms of meeting the curriculum expectations set for our school, and students can set learning goals with teachers or on their own and load evidence to show that they have met goals. This example shows three goals that a teacher (in the image) set with the learner, and will frame the work they do next.  
  • Bi-yearly graphing of student progress against curriculum levels to show trends over time in relation to expectations in numeracy and literacy. To confirm that they are giving the students the fundamental skills to access the curriculum through this system, teachers back up their digital badging process with formal e-asTTle testing and PAT Listening for diagnostic purposes, particularly for ESOL students.  

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  • Publishing of Badges with evidence as they are awarded – live and in real time. This happens at least four times each year – but can happen as and when learners are ready. (eg: Mastery/Assess when ready) When you hover on a badge, or view current badges that are set as goals, the criteria for the badge appears. A 3 tier system – orange – emerging, green – effective, and black – exemplary differentiates levels of achievement for each badge. Learners are able to “level up” and re-do badges at higher levels, and do not have to work through each level. This system is intended to mimic the current NCEA achieved, merit, excellence, and is loosely based on the solo differentiation between levels of understanding. The school avoided using the A, M, E or BPA language intentionally to avoid confusion, and wanted to stick to using only three to best help learners prepare for what was to come while having to unpack what the difference is between each level of understanding.

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  • The Whānau Ora also sends out learning stories which capture the learning in this part of the curriculum. These stories are pushed out at the end of each Whanau Ora Option " every 7 weeks. Read this sample Whānau Ora Learning Journey.
  • Three mid-term (terms 2, 3, and 4) dispositions reflections are completed as self-evaluations and as teacher feedback and forward to help frame where students are at in terms of their learning attitudes, behaviours and perceptions of themselves as learners. This is done mid term in order to provide communication with home about how the home school partnership can support personalised dispositional goals as they are needed to foster improvement – rather than as summative (or “too late”) information at the end of the term.

All reporting documents are developed in collaboration with learners live and in real time DURING class time. (Teachers are expected to use class time to work with the learners to complete each piece with the exception of their comments, editing, and item #2 above.) This is to ensure the assessing and reporting are deeply connected to the learning and to the learners, and there is clarity in the purpose and intentions of each element in terms of nurturing next steps and growth and improvement.

What's working well

  • System has allowed school leaders to weave together curriculum AOs, key competencies and values to create an integrated assessment based on the NZC
  • Student-centred learning – students work at their own pace and level to bid for and earn badges
  • Student self-regulation is at the heart of the system; they choose, in consultation with their teacher, the context for and direction of their learning
  • The badge system engages the students – they enjoy it and trust the process
  • Integration of teaching, learning and assessment allows teachers and students to make natural connections across all learning areas
  • Students form a knowledge network to help each other: for example, how to connect learning to criteria
  • Online access is building a community narrative about the assessment focus

Senior leaders at OJC stress that they are in a constant state of evaluation and review of their process, including the badges and the criteria for gaining them.

With thanks to Luke Sumich, Principal, and Viv Mallabar and Kat Liu-Asomua from the leadership team for their school story


Owhango School – bringing the arts back into our curriculum

Owhango School is a very small, full primary school situated in the middle of the North Island, close to Mt Ruapehu.

Leaders and staff at the school have made a decision in 2018 to bring the performing arts back into the teaching and learning in their school. They consider the performing arts to be an area that deserves attention in the post National Standards era where there is more emphasis on cross curricular learning.


Target 2: To support the children to become more confident and competent in the performing arts learning area of the curriculum.


A quote from the NZ Curriculum in their report introduces the rationale for their decision:

Learning in, through, and about the arts stimulates creative action and response by engaging and connecting thinking, imagination, senses, and feelings. By participating in the arts, students’ personal well-being is enhanced. As students express and interpret ideas within creative, aesthetic, and technological frameworks, their confidence to take risks is increased…Arts education values young children’s experiences and builds on these with increasing sophistication and complexity as their knowledge and skills develop. Through the use of creative and intuitive thought and action, learners in the arts are able to view their world from new perspectives. Through the development of arts literacies, students, as creators, presenters, viewers, and listeners, are able to participate in, interpret, value, and enjoy the arts throughout their lives.

Studies measuring creative thinking, critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning all find these functions increase and improve when arts education is added to the educational mix.

Correlative studies also show a strong relationship between arts education and:

  • positive emotional development that leads to stronger abilities to self-regulate
  • deep engagement in learning
  • motivation to learn for understanding
  • a decrease in disciplinary issues in schools
  • self-awareness, self-concept and self-expression
  • self-efficacy and self-confidence

Collecting baseline data

To collect baseline data, teachers constructed and conducted a survey asking about the children’s confidence and competence in the performing arts. You can download a PDF of the survey below.

PDF icon. Performing Arts Survey (PDF 258 KB)

Collating data from the survey

Data from the survey was collated and graphs constructed, allowing the school to formulate an action plan. You can download a PDF of the data below.

PDF icon. Collated data from arts survey (PDF 291 KB)

Action plan

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An action plan was constructed from the survey results. It includes aims, actions to achieve those aims, assessment, resources and time frames. 

How the school will evaluate the success of target 2

  1. A comparison of the results of a survey carried out at start of year and at the end of the year to gauge the change in confidence and competence in the performing arts.
  2. Observations and informal assessment of students’ success in the performing arts challenges of various disciplines (kapa haka, group singing, playing and performing with a musical instrument, performing in plays, performing in dance, creating music, dance and/or drama)

With thanks to Ewan Starkey, Principal, for sharing the school story.


Prospect School – Designing our own approach

Prospect School is a multi-cultural, year 1 to 6 primary school in West Auckland with a student population of around 350.


Initially, when National Standards (NS) first came in we tried to cross reference the standards to a variety of guides and progressions. We used:  the NZ Curriculum document, Reading & Writing standards, Mathematics standards,  Effective pedagogies in Maths, e-asTTle matrices (for Writing, Reading and Maths), Numeracy Framework texts, Literacy Learning Progressions, Draft Literacy progressions, Effective Literacy Practices, and the Probe testing kit.  We were comprehensive in thinking about progressions and using the resources that best captured the curriculum. Unfortunately, this mish-mash of documents led to a lack of clarity about what was to be taught, so we put the best ideas contained within all of these documents into our own literacy and numeracy school-based progressions.  We also sought out and included elements from these that were the same as ongoing gaps that we know have been problematic for our students as taken from school-wide data analyses. These have our own flavour and are broken down into what our students need to learn. Now that National Standards are no longer compulsory, we have reviewed where we are at.

In addressing the changes to the NAGs and National Standards we firstly thought about what we liked and didn’t like about National Standards – what did work for us and what didn’t. After all, NS have been with us for eight years now and over that time our school has used them to hugely improve our assessment capability, our teaching and learning, and our students’ achievement.

We wanted to keep all the bits that worked for us, our kids and our community, and enabled us to continuously improve. These were:

  • Our own National Standards and NZC-based progressions – these were great for both learners, teachers and parents. We have found them very formative as they let everyone know where the learning is at, what the next step is, and what the longer journey looks like. We also modified these progressions a little to insert some of the issues that traditionally tripped our students up or that they found hard to learn e.g. vocabulary and inference from data.  Now students enjoy being clear about what they are learning, their goals, their next steps, and use the language of our progressions.
  • The need to make, and then use, Overall teacher judgements (OTJs) based on an array of evidence across the curriculum made so much more sense pedagogically than trying to make the same decisions based on the results of a single test. We like the idea of student/teacher overall judgement (Student and teacher overall judgement [STOJ]) because it better captures the idea of joint agency. And it avoids the anxiety that some students and teachers feel about the judgements made on the basis of a single test.
  • Shaping and consistently using sound moderation processes has helped us to build both teacher curriculum knowledge and assessment capability – hugely valuable.
  • For sharing across schools in our Kāhui Ako with leaders and teachers. Once we had agreed on moderation processes, (use of NS and OTJs) decision-making about resource allocation and improvement plans became clear.  
  • The board and the senior leadership team liked our own National Standards and NZC based progressions too because they could see that we were all understanding and using the same progressions. Having a common language then allowed everyone to share a picture of individual and collective progress as is appropriate to their needs.
  • Our progressions also give us a clear picture of where we would want every learner to have reached at the end of every year and allows us to make decisions about where to put better targeted resourcing. This creates a culture of urgency about student making gains and helps of course, to monitor progress.
  • School-wide consistency in the language of the teaching of writing, reading and maths, and of the approach to assessment, and of assessment moderation processes.
  • School-wide, consistent, drive to improve achievement – teachers adopting the expectation that every child should make at least one year’s progress for every year at school.
  • The idea of assessing literacy and numeracy across the curriculum made a great deal of sense too, because it builds a richer picture of what it means to be literate and numerate.
  • The clarity that came from our own progressions and the year by year expectation of what we wanted every child to learn also enabled us to upskill our teacher aides so that they could provide better support to the children who need it. They now feel much more useful to the school – and they are.

But, we did not like:

  • Reporting to parents that their child was "below" or "well below" the standard. This never felt comfortable for us and seemed to be incompatible with basic assessment principles and agency and motivation.
  • Anniversary reporting – this always felt prone to error and unnecessarily panicked parents in the first year or two where it was so easy for a learner to appear to be "below", make parents anxious, and then actually see them come right once they had got a little more used to school learning. Anniversary reporting did not seem to take account of the individual differences in settling in to school. Comparing NS analyses of data to end of year analyses have shown some variation for those in their early years.
  • Data analysis based on anniversary dates meant that some students who met their targets after the anniversary dates could not be included in school-wide target-setting and that reflections on achievement could be skewed. Some students did not meet their target at the time of their anniversaries but by the end of the year, they had. In some cases this was up to a 20% difference in results. We will change to "end of year" expectations instead for all year levels.

So what changes will we make, post National Standards?

We intend to proceed by keeping all that we want to keep and making changes to how we share information with board, parents, whanau, community and other stakeholders in the following ways

For students: we will make our mid- and end of year reports more student driven. The writing of the report is to be done in class time, with students and teachers working together to highlight each student’s own personal story of progress, learning and achievement. Students and teachers together will set targets, make goals, self-assess their key competencies, write their own personal story about learning. Each class will write a narrative that tells their unique story of learning across the curriculum thereby reflecting each class’ own story. This will be supported by conversations at student-led conferences and discussions about our progressions.

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For parents: we will set end of year expectations/goals with each child and parent and report against those –with a strong focus on ipsative assessment. Each report already contains a graphic showing the starting point at the beginning of the year, the target end of year, and the mid-year and end of year actual result. Now we will try to make this progress framed more around individuals and how much progress they can realistically achieve, as students who were often well below and below could not often make a year’s progress.  This then becomes a conversation with each student and whānau about how much progress is realistic for each student, hopefully a year, and sometimes more or less depending on the individual (e.g. special needs, ESOL, gifted, etc…). More importantly, we will emphasise information on progress across the curriculum (not just reading, writing and maths) and include references to our new Graduate Profile, and 21st century skills, (our key competencies) so that parents, learners and ourselves keep the whole student clearly in mind.

The Prospect School report from the National Standards era (you can find details here) which already showed progress and achievement is easily adaptable for the 2018 changes that the school wishes to make. 

For Board and community: We have been reporting against National Standard targets for eight years now. The board likes the clarity that it brings to our achievement information, so what we will do is change the wording from "percentage at and above National Standards" to "percentage of students reaching expectations". We see no need for further change at this stage. Our thinking is that this will work nicely as we expand our formal reporting to encompass more of the curriculum, probably against the five dimensions of our graduate profile, using rubrics such as the one for whanaungatanga below.

Assessment and reporting overview 2018

You can download Prospect School's current assessment schedule below.

PDF icon. Student Assessment and Reporting Overview 2018 (PDF 69 KB)

Emerging issues for school review

There are emerging issues that we need to address that have come more to the fore more now that the rest of the curriculum is more easily visible behind literacy and numeracy. For example:

  • How do we develop assessment capability for teachers new to the school?
  • What needs to change in our induction processes?
  • How do we sustain the urgency of teaching and learning without the pressure that NS provided?
  • What do we do to address our current reality of under-achievement?
  • How do we balance the need for the basics/guided pedagogies with the integration of 21st century skills?
  • How do we assess all of this?

Possible solutions that we are working through

  • Our learning progressions + NZC = backbone of expected curriculum content
  • Solid grounding in the basics for those who need it, i.e. Juniors, special needs, ESOL, etc. 
  • Key competencies/21st Century skills become the focus of the learning – content knowledge is the vehicle to teach essential skills
  • Create even more progressions (weird as it might seem) – unpack each skill group to detail the steps learners need to master. We have made good progress with this and it still makes sense because the advantages in helping everyone be clear about what to learn and how to recognise progress is huge.
    •        Select the image to view at full size.

      For example, this is our how far we've got with a progression for whanaungatanga.
    • The progressions are based on:
    • Key competencies – Relating to others
    • PB4L behavious expectations
    • Graduate Profile
    • Independent learner progressions

For wider school review and reporting on school patterns of achievement (Board of Trustees, Kāhui Ako, Ministry of Education):

  • We still need to know, for ourselves and our community, how well our children as a whole are progressing. For a start we want to know if they are learning the basics to a sufficient level.
  • We will do this by attempting to keep the simplicity that was inherent in the National Standards reporting, possibly changing the terminology to "at expected curriculum level"
  • As to our progressions for monitoring learning with the rest of the curriculum, we intend to keep developing our progression rubrics, assessing against those and seeing what sort of school profile they deliver and then make instructional and information sharing decisions from there.

With thanks to Principal Gaye Turner, DP Angela Thorogood and the staff at Prospect School


St Mark's School – Choosing and using the PaCT tool

St Mark’s is a state-integrated, full primary school in Christchurch with a student population of around 200.


The school has concentrated on building a model of inquiry based on learner-focused evaluation processes. They appreciate the opportunity that the removal of National Standards has given them to reconsider their assessment systems and processes. They have identified their needs as the following:

  • Monitoring of progress
  • Summation of achievement at particular points in the year
  • Descriptions and illustrations of progressions of learning to be used by teachers and students
  • A tool that will provide teachers and students with the "what next" for teaching and learning
  • Measurement of progress and achievement for analysis and teacher discussion
  • Consistent and easily understood assessment across the school

They want to keep overall teacher judgments, understanding that no single source of information can accurately summarise a student’s achievement or progress. They do not want to keep the anniversary reporting from the National Standards, as it was complicated and very difficult to administer, and do not want to have to be in compliance mode with their assessment systems i.e. assessing to provide information to other stakeholders without using it for teaching and learning.

They want an easy to use assessment system that will support class-based assessment for learning, teacher inquiry, information sharing with parents and BoTs and wider data measurement and analysis when required.


The school looked at the range of assessment tools available for literacy and numeracy. The list is large, and includes (but not exhaustively) PATs, e-asTTle, running records, PIPs, GloSS, JAM, STAR, PROBE 2, BURT, MidYIS, NumPA, NEMP, ARBs, Schonell, NZ Curriculum Exemplars, PaCT, rubrics, and student voice. So many tools, each with its advantages and disadvantages, all measuring in different ways. School leaders, in consultation with their staff, decided to investigate the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) because it seemed to support their criteria for an effective assessment tool. A group from the school attended PaCT workshops and discovered that the tool has the following advantages:

  • The Learning Progressions Frameworks are embedded in the PaCT tool. Teachers are able to understand the knowledge, skills and rates of progress described in the NZC in reading, writing and mathematics.
  • Each learning area (reading, writing and mathematics) is broken down into aspects and illustrations are available for all stages of learning.
  • The tools are designed for cross-curricular use, for example, there are illustrations from the science and social studies learning areas.
  • The tool will align teacher judgments with NZC levels.
  • The clear descriptions and illustrations support moderation and collaborative inquiry.
  • It supports assessment for learning – teachers can easily give feedback to students about their learning and plan next learning steps with them.
  • The tool produces reports that provide information for students, teachers (individually and as a learning group) and school leaders.

Teachers like the fact that there are guidelines for when a judgment doesn’t match with the knowledge that the teacher has. This supports their knowledge that assessment is never cut and dried and needs careful investigation.


Information from the PaCT workshops was brought back to the school, and it was decided that a self-selected group would start using PaCT for the writing curriculum area. This area was chosen because it is the area showing the lowest achievement data. This group then shared their learning with teachers across the school, after they had learned the tips and tricks for speeding up the process of assessment.

The expectation now is that all teachers use the tool to measure writing progress and achievement. Data from the tool is used in the classroom, within professional learning groups and in the leadership team to discuss student progress and work out ways to support student progress and achievement.

Future action

The intention in the future is to implement the use of PaCT across all learning areas (reading, writing and mathematics) when teachers and leaders gain more familiarity with the tool. Leaders have decided not to entirely do away with other forms of assessment as they like to ensure that their judgments can be supported through other assessments. These assessments, though, will be infrequent, carefully planned within teaching teams, and used for corroboration purposes. The main tool to support their focus on assessment for learning will be the PaCT tool.

With thanks to the Principal, Averil Worner, at St Mark’s School


Check out this Gazette article from 27 August 2018 on how two Southland primary schools are measuring and reporting progress across the curriculum, using the Progress and Consistency Tool.