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Assessment guidance


What options are available to teachers and kaiako now that the National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori have been removed?


Key messages | In the meantime | Progress and achievementUnderstanding learners progress | Principles of effective assessment | What tools to use | Effective information sharing | Where to find out more


Key messages

  • Good assessment and aromatawai are a critical part of effective teaching and learning.
  • Teachers and kaiako should continue to use a broad range of assessment and aromatawai approaches to judge the progress and achievement of their students.
  • The Ministry is beginning to work with the sector and parents and whānau to design tools that better recognise and report on a child’s progress over the breadth of the curriculum.

Teachers and kaiako should continue to use a broad range of assessment and aromatawai approaches to record the progress and achievement of their students and make informed decisions about how they tailor their teaching for best impact. This guidance outlines key principles to keep in mind when deciding which approaches to use. 

This guidance also outlines a set of key ideas to support quality reporting to parents, family and whānau.

For more information and examples of effective reports to parents, you can refer to Assessment Online: Reporting-to-parents-whanau and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa: Mataiako – Rukuhia-Rarangahia.

The National Curricula (Te Whāriki, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, and the New Zealand Curriculum) set clear expectations for learning, while providing flexibility for local curriculum, teaching and learning to be designed and delivered in a way that meets the needs of the students within a centre, kura, school or Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako. 


Assessment is a process of learning, for learning, and is a central part of the inquiry cycle that is at the heart of effective practice in New Zealand schools and kura.

Teaching as Inquiry diagram

                                    If you cannot view or read this diagram, select this link to open a text version.


He Puāwaitanga Harakeke, he whakakī whāruarua diagram represents the vision that using an aromatawai approach realises, achieved by basing learning and teaching on principles underpinned by Māori values. The harakeke plant is a metaphor for student learning in Māori medium education.


                                     If you cannot view or read this diagram, select this link to open a text version. 


The Ministry is beginning work, alongside representatives from the sector, to design tools and supporting materials for a broader approach to assessment for teaching and learning, and reporting to students, parents, and whānau. The new approach will recognise a child’s progress across the breadth of the curricula including a focus on key competencies and/or Te Āhua o ā tātou Ākonga.


In the meantime …

Schools and kura can choose the approaches they will use that meet the needs of their learners and parents, school, kura, Kāhui Ako, and Boards of Trustees. If schools prefer, they can continue using National Standards (archived) and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori. Some guidance about assessment and aromatawai approaches is set out below. Information about learners’ progress should still be collated at the school, kura, and Kāhui Ako level to inform school charters, planning and inquiry processes to inform the allocation of resources, and adjustment of programmes and policies in support of equity and excellence. The obligation on schools and kura to submit a NAG2A report in March, 2018 has been removed.


What do we mean by progress and achievement?

Progress refers to the rate of growth over time. For every student to achieve educational success, they need to be well supported to progress as far as possible, in the best way possible.

Achievement refers to the level of progress students make in building the knowledge, skills and capabilities they need to meet the demands of the national curricula at each stage of their learning.

Parents have told us that they value information about their child’s wellbeing as part of understanding their progress and achievement.

Reporting on a child’s wellbeing refers to a child’s sense of belonging, their identity, language and culture, that they have good emotional and social skills and feel supported in their learning environment. There are many examples of great practice already under way in schools and kura and schools and kura are encouraged to continue with what works for them and their communities.

The principles outlined on this page act as a useful reminder of what is important when considering both assessment and the frequency, format and content of conversations with parents, family and whānau.


Understanding learners' progress in order to support teaching and learning

Effective assessment in English medium settings

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides.

Schools and kura also need to know what impact their programmes are having on student learning.

Teachers and kaiako have always used a range of evidence and information to determine how each learner is progressing in relation to the curricula, where their strengths are, and where they may need additional support. 

It is this professional judgment that allows teachers to plan next learning opportunities and to tailor their teaching to allow all students to develop the important learning set out in the national curricula. Teacher and kaiako may inform their judgment using a range of approaches, including:

  • Day to day activities, such as learning conversations, observations and rich learning tasks.
  • A simple mental note taken by the teacher during observation.
  • Student self and peer assessments.
  • A detailed analysis of a student’s work.
  • Assessment tools, which may be formal written items, structured interview questions, or items teachers make up themselves.

What matters most is not so much the form of assessment, but:

  • Why and how the information is gathered and used to improve teaching and learning.
  • How it supports a learner's agency and ownership in their own learning; and
  • How it supports a reciprocal conversation with parents and whānau that values the role they play in their child’s learning.


                                     If you cannot view or read this diagram, select this link to open a text version.

Effective aromatawai in Māori medium settings

Ako is based on reciprocal learning principles that are underpinned by Māori values and the preservation of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga, and aspirations of whānau, hapū, and iwi.

Each kura and Māori medium setting, therefore, has the freedom to describe ākonga progress and achievement in terms of their own vision and values as outlined in their charters.

Aromatawai is derived from terms that convey its role in learning and teaching. Aro is “to pay attention to” and matawai is “to examine closely”.

Within the learning context aromatawai focuses on the learner as a learner, their learning journey and experience, the relationship between kaiako and ākonga, and how aromatawai information can support learning, instantly and over time.

Ako and aromatawai should acknowledge tairongo as valid ways of perceiving learning through ākonga lenses. Aspects of tairongo to inform ako and aromatawai include;

  • āta titiro – look for evidence of growth via observations (watching)
  • āta whakarongo – look for evidence of growth via observations (listening)
  • āta hī, whakamātauhia – look for evidence of growth via scientifically developed aromatawai tools
  • te whāwhā atu – look for evidence of growth through direct interactions with ākonga and whānau
  • whakamanahia te tairongo wairua – listen to the inner voice that speaks from the heart and is filled with passion for learning, and compassion for ākonga.

Kaiako professional judgment and ability to provide a rich description of the skills, knowledge and aptitudes of ākonga are central to aromatawai. The information on which professional judgments are based;

  • recognises in an authentic way, the identity, language and culture of the ākonga
  • validates the use of information that is available from a wide range of sources, including tairongo
  • recognises ākonga uniqueness and strength
  • allows learners to show their learning in a range of ways.


Principles of effective assessment

Assessment principles

Assessment tools are part of the toolkit of assessment approaches, and allow teachers to check their professional hunches about how a learner is doing. There are a number of tools in use in New Zealand, and while none of these cover the full breadth of the curricula they can be a helpful part of the wider picture. When considering which tools to use, teachers and kaiako should keep in mind the following characteristics of effective assessment set out in the New Zealand Curriculum:

  • benefits students – It clarifies for them what they know and can do and what they still need to learn. When students see that they are making progress, their motivation is sustained and their confidence increases.
  • involves students – They discuss, clarify, and reflect on their goals, strategies, and progress with their teachers, their parents, and one another. This develops students’ capacity for self- and peer assessment, which leads in turn to increased self-direction.
  • supports teaching and learning goals – Students understand the desired outcomes and the criteria for success. Important outcomes are emphasised, and the teacher gives feedback that helps the students to reach them.
  • is planned and communicated – Outcomes, teaching strategies, and assessment criteria are carefully matched. Students know in advance how and why they are to be assessed. The teacher’s programme planning is flexible so that they can make changes in response to new information, opportunities, or insights.
  • is suited to the purpose – Evidence is obtained through a range of informal and formal assessment approaches. These approaches are chosen to suit the nature of the learning being assessed, the varied characteristics and experiences of the students, and the purpose for which the information is to be used.
  • informs planning at a school-wide level – Schools and boards can then use this information as the basis for changes to policies or programmes to better meet the needs of their learners.
Aromatawai principles

Aromatawai tools are part of the toolkit that kaiako use to support teaching and learning. When considering aromatawai approaches in Māori medium education contexts, kaiako can use the following principles from Rukuhia Rarangahia – Aromatawai Position paper 2014. These four principles reflect the overarching principles of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, which are built on a belief that the learner is at the centre of all learning, and should be embedded into teaching and learning programmes.

Principle 1: Mana Mokopuna – education that is mokopuna-centred
Ako and aromatawai are designed to serve mokopuna first and foremost. Learning is tailored for and with mokopuna, based on who they are, their interests, and their needs so they can participate more fully in learning. Mana Mokopuna should be evident in all aspects of the kura, including the physical, emotional, cognitive and social domains.

Principle 2: Rangatiratanga – education that is unique to the individual 
Rangatiratanga focuses on the development of the unique person that each ākonga is. Learning experiences and opportunities foster their natural talents and encourage their participation in learning. Kaiako should understand and respond appropriately to ākonga in ways that speak to the nature of the ākonga.

Principle 3: Toitū te Mana – education that affirms whānau, hapū, iwi
Toitū te Mana focuses on the unique identity, language and culture of ākonga, whānau, hapū, and iwi. Kaiako and leaders take into account whānau, hapū, and iwi participation and contribution to what is being learnt and how, who teaches it and how kaiako will know when it has been learnt.

Principle 4: Whanaungatanga – education that values whanaungatanga
Whanaungatanga is focused on the importance of building and maintaining relationships. Ākonga and kaiako understand that support, assistance, nurturing guidance and direction is reciprocal, and embraces the spiritual link Māori have with Papatūānuku. Ākonga learn the value of working together, and of behaviours and interactions that are respectful, acknowledge reciprocity, and are caring, compassionate, and nurturing.


What tools should schools and kura use?

Tools for English medium settings

There are a number of tools available for use in English Medium settings, and guidance is available on Assessment Online that will help match tools to purpose.

As part of their obligations under NAGs 1 and 2, schools, particularly in years 1–8 need to prioritise learning in the foundational areas of literacy and numeracy, and will still be required to use good quality assessment data to evaluate and report on students’ progress and achievement in relation to literacy and numeracy, and across all areas of the curricula.

  • The Learning Progression Frameworks (LPF) were designed to illustrate the significant steps that learners take as they develop their expertise in reading, writing, and mathematics, and the exemplars demonstrate this expertise in contexts that reflect the breadth of the curriculum.
  • Tools such as e-asTTle, the Progressive Achievement Tests (PAT), and the Observation Survey are valuable contributors to informing teachers judgments and can contribute to an understanding of progress and achievement across the curriculum, as well as providing specific feedback on next steps.
  • The Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) will continue to be available to support teachers’ judgments across the breadth of learning in the reading, writing and mathematics frameworks. 
Tools for Māori medium settings

As part of obligations under NAGs 1 and 2, kura and Māori medium settings prioritise learning in te reo matatini and pāngarau. Good quality aromatawai information should continue to be used to evaluate and report on ākonga progress and achievement in relation to te reo matatini and pāngarau, and across all the wāhanga ako of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

There is a small range of assessment tools and items that Māori medium kaiako can use to inform overall teacher judgments in the aromatawai process.

Te Waharoa Ararau (TWA) is designed to collate and report overall teacher judgments together in one place, and aligns with Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Te Waharoa Ararau can continue to be used to support kaiako to understand how well students are progressing with their te reo matatini and pāngarau learning over time, and to support kura and Māori medium settings in their planning, planning for individual, group and kura-wide learning needs.

TWA support tools can be found at: TMOA website Ngā rauemi mō TWA and on this NWRM Alignment table PDF.

A list of aromatawai tools can be found on Te Marautanga o Aotearoa website, here Te Rārangi Rauemi Aromatawai ā-Motu.

It should be recognised that these tools and items do not constitute the fullness of the aromatawai process. Tools without a craftsman are of little value. The list specifies the learning area (Kōrero, Pānui, Tuhituhi, or Pāngarau) of each tool and includes information about suitability of tools to year levels and immersion levels.


Effective information sharing with parents, family, and whānau

Effective reporting of student/ākonga progress and achievement across the curriculum requires more than one-way transmission of information from teacher or student to parent. It requires meaningful, ongoing, information sharing processes where the roles and expectations of students/ākonga, teachers, parents, whānau, and the wider community are clear.

Effective assessment and aromatawai recognises and supports reciprocal conversations with parents and whānau that value the role they play in their child’s learning. 

As of 2018, you are required to report to parents on the progress and achievement of students, in plain English, at least twice a year including for the foundational learning areas of literacy and numeracy. Schools and kura are also required to report to their communities on the progress and achievement of students as a whole and groups of students, including Māori. This reporting needs to be based on good quality assessment information that draws on a range of evidence to build a comprehensive picture of student learning across the curriculum.

Effective reporting focuses on including parents and students as active partners in their learning progress and next steps – schools and kura should decide with their local communities when and how reporting can best support learning partnerships.

In an effective reporting process, information sharing is guided by the following:
If information is being reported and shared effectively, these are the likely outcomes:

1. Ako

  • Information sharing and reciprocal learning, or ako, underpin all reporting processes.
  • Parents and whānau share their expectations, their child’s interests, strengths, and learning needs and the knowledge they value.
  • School and kura practices add to whānau practices, and whānau practices add to school practices.
  • Teachers know about their students’ identity, language, culture, interests, and talents. They also understand how these influence the progress and achievement students make over time.
  • Students/ākonga know that their teachers respect who they are.

2. Focus and coverage

  • Information sharing provides appropriate focus, coverage and valid and fair information about students’ progress and achievement towards valued learning outcomes across the breadth of the curriculum.
  • Parents and whānau are clear about what their child has achieved and the progress their child has made across the breadth of the curriculum, including the NZC vision of confident, connected, actively engaged, life-long learners and the qualities and characteristics of a graduate of Māori medium education in TMoA – they are able to stand in both te ao Māori and the wider world.

3. Foundations for learning

  • Information sharing is clear about students’ understandings and skills in areas that are likely to have a multiplier effect on their ongoing learning in all areas.
  • Parents and whānau can clearly see students’ progress and achievement in literacy and te reo matatini, numeracy and pāngarau, key competencies and ‘learning-to-learn’ skills in the NZC, and the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes embodied in the graduate profile developed by whānau in kura or Māori medium setting.

4. Student responsibility

  • Reporting involves and benefits students/ākonga. Each student takes increasing levels of responsibility for reporting on their own progress in ways that strengthen their view of themselves as a learner and their understanding of what they have learnt. 
  • Students/ākonga are clear about what they have learnt, which learning strategies were successful, what they need to focus on next and why it is important.

5. Motivation

  • Information is deliberately designed to enhance student, parent and whānau motivation and engagement.
  • Reports enable each and every child to celebrate their progress towards their learning goals.
  • Student/ākonga, parent and whānau motivation to support learning is enhanced.
  • Students/ākonga who would normally ‘switch off’ when faced with low achievement remain motivated.

6. Technologies

Available technologies are used to:

  • make the indicators of each student’s progress more visible
  • enhance reciprocal information sharing for teachers, students, parents and whānau engage networks to support students' further learning.
  • Parents and whānau can see their child’s progress online in real time.
  • Parents, whānau and the wider community use a range of technologies to support their children’s learning.

7. Checking in with parents

  • Schools and kura regularly inquire into and evaluate the effectiveness of their information-sharing processes, and improvements in information-sharing policies, processes, and practices are made as a result of listening to parents’ and students’ voices.

Parents and whānau:

  • are confident interacting with their children’s teachers
  • feel their views are valued
  • understand where their children are at, what progress they have made, and what they need to learn next
  • know where to access the information and resources they need to support their children’s learning.


Where to go to find out more

English medium schools

  • English medium schools can refer to the guidance on Assessment Online.
  • The National Standards pamphlets for parents and whānau will continue to be available from Down the Back of the Chair or download from New Zealand Curriculum Online. These pamphlets contain a wealth of valuable information to support what families can do to support learning at home.
  • For more specific queries you can contact your Education Advisor in your local office.

Kura and Māori medium settings