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Assessment literacy

Assessment literacy is the possession of knowledge about the basic principles of sound assessment practice, including its terminology, the development and use of assessment methodologies and techniques, and familiarity with standards of quality in assessment.  


The primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning, as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides. Information is needed about what knowledge, understanding, or skills students need. By finding out what students currently know, understand, and can do, any gap between the two can be made apparent. 
Assessment is the process of gaining information about the gap and learning is about attempts to reduce the gap. 


Capabilities | Classroom resources | Evidence | Pasifika examples 


Teacher and students understand that assessment, both informal and formal, is central to teaching and learning. They use it formatively at all times to determine where individuals and groups are with their learning. 

Teachers have the capability to gather dependable information, aggregate and analyse it, and use it to further teaching and learning for individuals and groups of students.

Capabilities associated with assessment literacy

Use of assessment information

  • The teacher understands that assessment, both informal and formal, is central to teaching and learning and uses it formatively at all times to determine where individuals and groups are with their learning.
  • The teacher always involves students in all forms of assessment (what to assess, how and when, how to use the results to assist their further learning). Students see assessment as essential in helping them monitor their learning.
  • The teacher is aware of the essential value of self and peer assessment and enables students to independently assess their own and other students’ progress.

Use of assessment tools

  • The teacher knows when and how to use appropriate assessment tools in the relevant subject, and is skilled in all aspects of administration, marking, and, interpretation (for example, asTTle, PAT, Star, Gloss, NCEA).
  • The teacher understands and can explain all relevant statistical terms; for example, norm, mean, standard deviation, and stanine.
  • The teacher uses assessment materials fully in accordance with guidelines to deliver dependable information. Validity, reliability, and quality control are seen to be important. Moderation is carried out carefully. Routine cross-checks are made on marking and data entry accuracy.

The "big picture" of assessment

  • The teacher understands how aggregated achievement data is used school-wide, nationally and internationally, and how these "big picture" analyses relate to his/her classroom practice and whole school review.


These resources may be used to help teachers develop assessment literacy:

Using evidence for learning

The Using Evidence for Learning section of the Assessment Online website provides assessment literacy information, including some interactive demonstrations of technical aspects of assessment collection and aggregation. These web pages can be used for teacher professional development.

Pasifika examples of using data for learning

These videos provide examples from the Pasifika Education Community on using data for learning