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Determining, responding to, and describing student progress and achievement across the curriculum

Image taken from Page 5 of Assessment for Learning Local Curriculum Guide

Select the image to view at full size.

This resource aims to support teachers to deepen their understanding of assessment for learning principles and practices in their classrooms with a particular emphasis on measuring, responding to, and reporting progress and achievement across the curriculum.

The Leading Local Curriculum Guide series has been developed to steer review of your curriculum, assessment, and design decisions as you strengthen your local curriculum, respond to progress, and reinforce learning partnerships with parents and whānau. 

As schools go about the process of curriculum design and review this diagram shows how local curriculum weaves the elements of the national curriculum framework within contexts that provide rich learning opportunities, to provide a coherent pathway that supports teachers to be responsive to all learners for the classroom curriculum.

Whilst the guides are intended primarily for curriculum leaders to help with planning and school review, we've taken the following question from the Assessment for learning guide to steer deeper thinking for teachers, as well as leaders, around progress and achievement across the curriculum:

How well can we locate a student’s performance across the breadth of the curriculum and along the continuum of curriculum levels? 

Accessed from: Leading Local Curriculum Guide series – Assessment for Learning 

Focus questions to guide you to answer the above question: 

  • How do we ensure that we provide rich learning tasks across the breadth of the curriculum that are differentiated, to ensure that progress made is appropriate for curriculum expectations for learners?
  • How do we know students have made expected progress across all learning areas?
  • How do we describe this progress to students and parents?

Expected progress

How do we know students have made expected progress across all learning areas?  

To show we understand the progress students make across learning areas we need to consider how best to track what we are noticing, recognising, and responding to for all students; enabling us to make reliable and valid judgments for teaching, assessment, and reporting purposes.


To understand what expected progress for your learners looks like:

  • Take time to review your school’s assessment systems – that is, what you assess, when, and how. These resources will help steer you along the review pathway:
    • Assessment Online: Reviewing your school’s assessment systems
    • Assessment for Learning – Using the right tools and resources to notice and respond to progress across the curriculum provides effective pathways to review your assessment processes.
    • This is the stage where you should be making wise choices about your assessment systems, hitting the "sweet spot" between over- and under-assessment. Think about the ways you can weave the Key competencies into your measurement of progress. Use the assessment capability and knowledge of your staff, or bring in outside expertise if necessary.
  • Locate the resources that identify progressions students should make for the curriculum areas you teach. Use these pages on Assessment Online that list available resources across the curriculum: 
  • (Before the term/year begins) Think of one (or more) specific student who you will be teaching. Using one of the progression frameworks (such as The Learning Progression Frameworks, Science in the NZ Curriculum: Understanding progress from levels 2 to 4), identify which step on the progression the student best fits. Consider what is needed to move them to the next step and plan accordingly. This could be done by individual teachers, but support for the activity within a staff or syndicate meeting will lead to shared understandings. 
  • (During the term) Look at what you planned for the previous week. Using your day-to day observations and learning conversations with students, and your knowledge of the learning progressions:
    • Identify those students who have made expected progress in one learning area and consider what is needed to move them to the next step 
      • What can you do to help them reinforce/improve on their progress?
    • Consider those who didn’t make the expected progress: 
      • Were the expectations realistic? 
      • Do you need to adjust the expectations?
      • What can you do to help them make progress?
      • Is this the same for other curriculum areas?
        Again, this could be done by individual teachers but support for the activity within a staff or syndicate meeting will lead to shared understandings. 

Planning example

  • Using a spiral curriculum to build on children’s prior knowledge – This ERO school story from Papatoetoe North School has useful advice on collaborative planning for teaching and assessment.
  • Using Evidence in the Classroom for Professional Learning (PDF) – Helen Timperley, Abstract of this academic paper: "For teachers to use evidence to improve teaching and learning in their classrooms they need information about what their students know and can do, evidence about their own practice and its impact on students, and knowledge of the research evidence and that from other established sources to give direction for improvements to practice."   

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