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Science assessment tools

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) has developed four tools to support the science learning of students in New Zealand schools:

  • Junior Science: Thinking with Evidence (Junior Science) is for years levels 4–6 
  • Science: Thinking with Evidence (STwE) is for year levels 7–10  
  • Science Engagement Survey
  • NMSAA Science Toolkit.

An overview of the science tools 

Junior Science: Thinking with evidence:

  • requires a subscription to NZCER Assist to access
  • is used for years 4–6
  • can only be completed online
  • comprises of 40–50 minute tests using a range of short response question types (drag and drop, sorting, hot spots, as well as some multiple-choice questions)
  • has a focus on students’ ability to use the provided stimulus materials to demonstrate aspects of their science capabilities, which model ways to weave the NOS into the curriculum
  • is a standardised science assessment designed to be used formatively.  

Science: Thinking with evidence (STwE):

  • requires a subscription to NZCER Assist to access
  • is four tests for years 7–10
  • a 50–60 minute test that can be completed on paper or online
  • has multi-choice questions that focus on students’ ability to use the provided stimulus materials to demonstrate aspects of thinking related to the Nature of Science (NOS) strand of the New Zealand curriculum
  • are standardised tests designed to be used formatively.        

Science engagement survey:

  • is free to access but requires NZCER Assist subscription
  • includes two online surveys – one for years 0–4 and one for years 5–10
  • has an emphasis on the student’s perceptions about their opportunities to learn science
  • provides a useful starting point for designing a science programme that is responsive to students’ interests and needs
  • allows for teachers to read the survey items aloud if this helps students to access the content
  • uses pictures to support the meaning of items in the year 0–4 survey.

NMSAA Science toolkit:

  • is free to access online tests (requires an ARBs login)
  • is for years 7 and 8
  • uses assessments that enable teachers to understand and support students’ learning in science
  • comprises two assessments,– a pre-test (Assessment 1) and a post-test (Assessment 2)with 36 questions in each
  • has selected-response and short answer questions. Assessment 2 requires students to use an online drawing tool - a particular skill that may need to be taught to ensure it isn’t a barrier to the assessment focus of the task.


Using the assessment tools 

STwE and Junior Science

You can either individually administer or simultaneously test groups.

If your students complete the test online, reports are automatically generated. Available report formats include group comparison data and individual progress information. 

Flexibility about when to test exists. This allows schools to consider factors such as what is the purpose for testing and how will the data be used when they decide the most appropriate time to test students.

NMSAA Science toolkit

The assessments are administered online. While there is no time limit, it is suggested that students be given 45 to 50 minutes to complete each test. Mark the opened questions online and review the automatically generated reports to identify any gaps in your students’ science understandings. Following Test 1, use the suggested teaching and learning activities to support your students’ learning. Administer Assessment 2 and compare results to identify changes in students’ understandings.

Science engagement survey

To access and administer the survey, schools must have an existing NZCER Marking account or sign up to NZCER Assist.

Accessing the Science engagement survey has more information from NZCER.

More information is available on the NZCER website or you can email scienceeducationteam@nzcer.org.nz.