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FAQ - general assessment

This section contains FAQ on general issues of assessment.

What is the difference between norm-referenced assessment, criterion-referenced assessment and standards-based assessment?

Norm-referenced assessment shows how students are achieving compared with others of the same age group at a given point in time. Such tests often provide results in percentiles or stanines.

Criterion-referenced assessment shows what students can or can’t do in relation to a list of tasks or skills. Teachers’ judgments are about whether the student has achieved each skill or task. When writing for example, a student may be able to succeed at each task or skill but still not be able to write a compelling piece which meets the needs of an audience.

Standards-based assessment shows what a student can do in relation to broad descriptions, supported by exemplars of expected achievement. The descriptions are broader than criteria. Each standard has a number of components that students need to bring together to achieve the standard.

Can teachers choose which tests they want to use, or will the range of assessment tools be standardised across the country, so that the same tools are used?

There is no compulsion in which assessment tools to use. Teachers are able to choose the assessment tools and approaches that best suit their needs and the needs of their students. An Assessment Selector Tool has been developed to support teachers and school leaders to find out about, and select, assessment tools appropriate to their particular needs. The relationship between the various existing tools and curriculum and year levels can be found here .

Consistent with effective assessment practice, assessment evidence should be gathered as an integral part of the teaching and learning process and used to determine next teaching and learning steps, plan classroom programmes, and support students to use assessment information to inform their own learning.

How can I provide opportunities for students to participate in the assessment and reporting processes?

Assessment and reporting should be guided by the principles of formative assessment, and the need for learners to be assessment-aware and able to understand their current state of learning and future needs. Whether informal or formal, assessment should always involve the students in decision-making about the assessment and its results. Assessment should therefore be part of an ongoing process between teacher and student to discuss the results of each element of an assessment and plan the way forward. There should be no surprises when assessment results are reported to parents.

Is the use of e-asTTle mandatory?

 e-asTTle , the online version of asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning), is a resource for assessing mathematics and reading for years 5-10 and curriculum levels 2-6, and writing for years 1-10 and curriculum levels 1-6. e-asTTle is not mandatory. Schools and teachers can select what tools they want to use from the range of tools available. They should decide the assessment programme (mix of assessment information to gather) that best suits their context/needs.

Apart from e-asTTle, what assessment tools are available for writing?

 Curriculum exemplars are available in writing, and these are currently being refreshed and renewed. There are also tasks available from the National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) and from the Assessment Resource Bank which can also be used to assess writing.

If we have data from the end of the previous year can we use that instead of assessing students at the beginning of the year?

All assessment information from the previous year should inform teachers’ knowledge of their students in the new year. However, teachers should bear in mind that research shows that over long holiday periods (for example the Christmas break) students can ‘slip back’ in their learning.