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NZQA and assessment online

Yesterday we hosted a webinar in conjunction with the Ministry of Education on, NZQA and updates regarding moving towards assessment online.

NZQA assessment online webinar

The room was 'packed' with many teachers joining us from around NZ. Steve Bargh (NZQA), (joined by Howard Baldwin and Elizabeth Eley from the Ministry of Education) initiated the discussion by channeling our thinking towards:

  • Who our young people are today
  • The era they are born into
  • Technological influences 

He shared a little about his own memories of education and challenged us to think about current socio- economic realities, and how these have changed since the 60’s and 70’s. 

There is no doubt that we have a road map to help us with our current thinking – in regards to the New Zealand Curriculum. Here we can build common understandings together, that knowledge is not a fixed construct and that metacognitive processes that apply thinking and problem solving - are vital for the future of our young people. 














Assessment practices must also reflect these pedagogies, whereby students can have choices - that involve a variety of assessment processes such as:

  • Portfolios
  • Examinations
  • Internal assessments

And that these can make the most of anywhere, anytime, online and on demand realities.

Steve shared some examples that are currently in place around the world and updated us with what is happening so far in New Zealand - in regards to working towards these ideals.

For us in NZ, the shift and movement will be towards:

  • Student preference - personalising learning
  • Digitised examination material - effective use of technologies
  • Meaningful assessment tasks – focus on higher order skills
  • Accessibility for all - Universal Design for Learning principles (UDL)

An example could look like this:

  Example of digitised assessment practices


So where to from here for secondary schools?

Schools will also be invited to get involved in NZQA pilot schemes. Your thoughts and experiences will be able to help shape this process for the future.

During the webinar, many participants were active in adding value - with comments and questions. These can be seen in the webinar recording chat box, and you're invited to keep these conversations going here in this thread.

What's happening already in your schools?  What works, what doesn't work?

What is the general consensus and feeling around authenticity and validity? 

How far would you like to see these developments go?

We'd love to hear from you! Smile

Watch the webinar recording here >>>


  • Vivita Rabo (View all users posts) 29 Oct 2014 4:34pm ()

    So if students and teachers had to learn, relearn and unlearn, I suppose it has suit the diversity of learning styles of each one in order for it to work or in this assessment context to be validated and reliable. Whist technology is becoming a necessity to schooling and assessment, the tools ought to accommodate for the diversity of learners that's out there. Whilst I agree with NZQA's vision of moving away from assessing students memory capabilities into more high order thinking practical skills that connects to the real world, it makes me think deeply about my deaf students.

    Now, I am thoroughly pleased with this government agenda with NZQA in regards to assessment but with the special assessment conditions, I would like to raise few issues. From a Teacher of the Deaf perspective in a mainstream school whereby deaf students are mainstreamed, special assessment conditions ought to accommodate the different auditory and language needs of these students. Whilst text to speech/speech to text software would work for students with cochlear implants or hearing aids, how about the those deaf students that extensively use NZ sign language? I would be extremely delighted if opportunities for pilot schools extends to these deaf learners! (I believe my employers Kelston Deaf Education Centre are currently working with NZQA over a NZSL issue to do with assessment) But definitely it would put them on a level playing field with other learners and most importantly that the students understand the purpose of assessment as a reflection of their learning journey. As for the NCEA App, I would be showing the families of my deaf students in their upcoming IEP meetings, brilliant stuff!


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 30 Oct 2014 1:56pm ()

    Kia ora Vivita, thank you for sharing your perspective here. I agree, I also think it's really important we don't 'think mainstream' or create a 'one size fits all' model for assessment, because as you say, there are a variety of cohorts who will undoubtedly lose a 'level playing field' or even be disadvantaged by accessibility issues - if we don't accommodate to the differences. 

    Steve did share that NZQA are considering options with UDL principles in mind and has invited people to make contact give critical input to this, like you have already, so that's really valuable and needs on-going input.

    My question is: If there's a move towards a variety of assessment practices (on-going portfolios, internal assessment, browser based examinations), how are schools creating a localised curriculum that reflects this already? IE: A move towards a 'thinking' curriculum, rather than one that relies on retention of content knowledge only.

    I'd love to hear more - either here, or in this new Forum: Curriculum design and review | An Enabling e-Learning and NZC event smiley

  • Vivita Rabo (View all users posts) 31 Oct 2014 3:23pm ()

    Thank you Tessa :) I am also in the process of encouraging my fellow colleagues who are also Teachers of the Deaf to join VLN and also out in their thoughts and reflections in these on-line discussions. Creating a localised curriculum as you have mentioned encourages our learners to be realize the true purpose and meaning of learning. Being a Teacher of the Deaf/Resource Teacher of the Deaf, this would call for working in close collaboration with mainstream teachers and in stating this I would like to share my experiences. We have more than 10 students mainstreamed in a Junior College here in Auckland where I work as a Teacher of the Deaf. The school in which we are part of with Kelston Deaf Education Centre believes in the use of innovative approaches in authentic, engaging and relevant contexts in a digital intensive environment. The students are involved in various authentic learning experiences in their different learning areas such as Math, English, Science. This includes them doing research, planning, designing and creating solutions to real life problems. During the course of this year, our students have been immersed in authentic learning activities and assessments that they have not only enjoyed but could connect their learning with the real world. Because students with hearing impairment are visual and kinesthetic learners, 'localising ' the curriculum becomes inclusive and accommodating to their learning styles and the beauty of this is our NZ Curriculum allows us teachers/educators to do this! These are some wonderful moments during the course of this year in which our deaf students were part of.

    In Year 7 Science, our Science teacher designed a series of lessons that focused on building knowledge around ecosystems and part of this learning expanded to understanding of water and the different measures of water quality used in NZ. The students went down to the stream beside the school to make sense of this all as well as the Biotic and Abiotic factors of the stream. Their assessment required them to assess the health of the stream so they took their equipment to the stream and did measures of the water quality according to the Wai Care SOSMART Assessment Recording systems. They documented their learning at various points (planning, actual experiments, collecting/collating of data from water quality measures, tabulating results and drawing conclusions on the health of the stream.

    Our students with hearing impairment were actively involved with their Global Studies project earlier this year in which they were learning about human rights violation, its effects in society and the possible actions taken globally. They planned a social action that they carried out in school. They designed advertisements re: social action and made everyone in the school aware of what they planned to do to help the refugees, all funds they raised were sent to the Refugees Association.

    An exciting one that the students and I experienced was learning about Physics concepts through a “Kart Physics Experiment that our Science teacher designed. As a teacher, I thought it was the one of the most engaging, authentic and meaningful Science lesson that I have come across in the school and most importantly it sort of made sense of technical concepts such as acceleration, force, gravity, kinetic energy, they all came alive! Well, as part of their Physics assessment, the students including our four deaf students rode on a kart down our field (safe), it was recorded on video, they had trial rides and using their distance and time, they calculated the velocity of the kart over time, deceleration, frictional force stopping the kart, work done by the friction, power by the friction kinetic energy at multiple points, created multitudes of graphs digitally and discussed the results.

    As you've already mentioned Tessa, moving away from that 'retention of knowledge' assessments to more authentic ones, I believe works well with our students that have hearing loss, I reckon it would not create that 'dreadful' vibe that we sometimes get from the students regarding exams :)

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 12 Feb 2016 12:14pm ()

    HOT OFF THE PRESS: Digital transformation of assessment

    In this very new Edtalks video, Richard Thornton, Deputy Chief Executive of Qualifications at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), describes the journey undertaken by NZQA as they move through the transformation from paper based assessment to digital assessment. Schools are being supported through 3 phases: substitution, transition and transformation, and by the end of 2015 52% of NZ secondary schools had already been involved in one of the NZQA pilots. 

    Richard Thornton talks about having 400 kids sitting in the hall doing a paper exam is not going to be a reality in very near future. Exams need to be delivered on any device, anytime and on the school’s network.

    • What does digital moderation and fit-for purpose assessment mean for NZQA?
    • What does this mean for your secondary school? Are you at the substitution, transition or transformation stage?
  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 01 Aug 2016 10:05am ()

    Kia ora tatou, does anyone know what the process is for students (secondary) accessing scribers in exams?

    What is the criteria please? For example, what if they have fantastic ideas trapped in their heads but are hindered because of illegible or slow handwriting?

    Appreciate your help,

    Smiles, Tess:-)

  • Lynne Silcock (View all users posts) 03 Aug 2016 8:51am ()

    Hi Tessa

    To get a writer (or reader and writer or other specialist support) for NCEA assessments you need to go through the Special Assessment Conditions process. This is completed for NZQA by the school to access the support students. The NZQA website has more information and timelines for applications etc.

    There are two main pathways to apply for Special Assessment Conditions:

    • School collets evidence of need over time. It is important that the school works with NZQA to collect appropriate evidence. If the student has RTLB support they will also be able to provide guidance.
    • Psych report - these are reports are completed by a psychologist who is qualified/certificated to complete the work. This tends to be quite expensive and last I heard was over $500 in most cases. 

    I have recently talked to both the Ministry and NZQA about Special Assessments Conditions and the key messages for secondary schools are:

    • Identify needs and put in supports from Year 9 by using transition data, or data from feeder schools

    • Use school systems to keep records about students needs

    • Connect with RTLB and Ministry Special Education staff for systematic support

    • Work hand in hand with their NZQA contact to ensure students have access to the support they need



    Lynne Silcock

    Connected Learning Advisory

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 05 Aug 2016 10:45am ()

    Hi Lynne, thank you for this answer, I didn't realise the process was that detailed.

    I was more thinking about those students who can't write fast enough (or legibly) to get their answers scribed clearly in exams. Now reading this, I'm not sure they would be eligible for support?

  • Lynne Silcock (View all users posts) 11 Aug 2016 9:03am ()

    Hi Tessa

    Yes it is possible that they are not eligible, but if the speed of writing means that the student cannot accurately show their learning in an external I would still follow up to make sure that they are not disadvantaged.



  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 11 Aug 2016 11:26am ()

    Thanks Lynne, very helpful advice, I'm sure there's a few learners who fit into this category.

    I know if I had to write for 3 hours, you wouldn't be able to read any of it after 20 minutes surprise

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 27 May 2020 12:36pm ()

    Old chain of thought here, but still relevant, especially noting sound assessment practices during, and (now) post COVID-19. from NZQA. I wonder what we can continue to do well or adopt as new practices for our secondary students going forward?

    For more, see https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/about-us/news/covid-19-guidance-for-school-assessment/

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 16 Jun 2020 11:18am ()

    We've transitioned into distance learning and back again, but there are some positive takeaways that are hard to ignore.

    Nāianei: Short term

    Schools are looking at ways to support secondary students otherwise disadvantaged by the disruption of COVID-19. For example, 

    ClassroomNZ2020, is a new platform with a range of online courses, as an interim support for learners until the end of February 2021. These online courses covering a wide range of NCEA subjects and levels were developed by Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura).

    The resources are aligned with the NZ Curriculum, meet NCEA requirements and can be used to supplement schools’ curriculum content. Find out more @ http://ncea.tki.org.nz/Resources-to-support-distance-learning-during-COVID-19/Information-on-ClassroomNZ2020

    Supporting secondary learners short term

    A Mua: Over time

    Two-thirds of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) exams can now be delivered digitally as the Government boosts funding for the NCEA online programme, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today (13 June).

    Over the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years, NZQA will spend approximately $14.5 million each year on enhancing and delivering NCEA online. An additional $4.8 million annually will allow NCEA online to continue operating in the future. https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/further-investment-move-ncea-exams-online

    How is digital learning and assessment becoming more accessible and popular in your school or kura? Love to hear more >>>

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