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Ministry continues work on National Standards

Ministry of Education continues work on National Standards

23 October 2009 .

With the publication today of the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics, the Ministry of Education will now focus on supporting schools to implement the curriculum and standards, and on the details of how the Ministry and schools will work together to do this.

“The Ministry is offering a wide range of support for schools, from professional development to written and electronic resources. Much of this support will take place in 2010, however the Ministry will also work with those schools and teachers that would like support during the remainder of 2009,” said Secretary for Education Karen Sewell.

The National Standards will support the implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum, in 2010.

“The New Zealand Curriculum is a world leading framework for education in our schools, and the standards have been explicitly written to complement and reinforce it,” said Karen Sewell.

“The Curriculum places students and their learning at the centre of the education system, and provides flexibility for schools to meet the needs of students and their communities.”

Schools will report to the Ministry against the National Standards within the existing Planning and Reporting requirements but under an addition to the National Education Guidelines, with schools first reporting on their 2011 achievement data.

“The Ministry of Education and education sector groups will continue to work together on outstanding issues, including the details of reporting in relation to the National Standards, throughout 2010,” said Karen Sewell.

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Ministry of Education - National Standards

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Introduction

The standards set clear expectations that students need to meet in reading, writing and mathematics in the first eight years at school.

Consultation and trialling of Ngā Whanaketanga Rūmaki Māori – the Māori-medium standards will begin in term one 2010.

The standards describe reference points or signposts of achievement at each year level. Assessing progress and achievement in relation to the standards will be an integral part of teaching and learning across the New Zealand Curriculum from 2010.

Teachers will:

• assess individual students’ progress and achievement in relation to the standards

• support students to use assessment information to inform their own learning goals and their next learning steps

• use a range of assessment information

• provide regular report to parents in plain language about their children's progress in relation to National Standards, including twice a year in writing

• provide clear information to parents, families and whānau so they can support their children's learning at home.

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National Standards: Questions and answers

Goals and targets
1. Do we have to have a reading writing and maths target in our 2010 charter?
Not in relation to National Standards. Targets related to National Standards will have to be included in your 2011 charters. For schools implementing Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, it will be the 2012 school year.
2. Does every child need goals in maths, reading and writing?
All of your students should know what goals they are working towards in reading, writing and maths and why those goals are important.
3. What about goals in the other learning areas? Do students need these as well?
Yes. Helping students to set their own learning goals helps them to be clear about what they know and what they need to learn, and so take greater ownership of their learning. It is an important component of effective pedagogy.
4. What expectations does the Ministry have about targets? For example, do we have to get a certain percentage of our students meeting the standards by 2012?
The Ministry will not set a blanket target for all schools. Schools will be expected to set appropriate targets for their particular students.

Assessment
5. How often do we have to make judgments about progress and achievement in relation to the standards?
Teachers and students should be making judgments about progress as they respond to information that assessment provides. These ongoing informal and formal judgments will contribute to reporting to parents (at least) twice during the year.
6. Do we need to set learning goals with our students in relation to National Standards for 2010?
In 2010, some of the student’s learning goals should be related to the National Standards. The previous year’s assessment information will inform your knowledge of your students. You may wish to re-assess or do more diagnosis with some students before setting goals with them, as research shows that over long holiday periods (eg Christmas break), some students can slip back in their learning.
7. How are we going to show progress in relation to the National Standards, given we only have a four-point scale to work with?
The four-point scale has been designed to show reliable differentiation in teachers’ judgments in relation to the standards. Progress against individual student’s learning goals in relation to the standards can be shown in a variety of ways. Teachers may use samples of student’s work and many assessment tools have more finely differentiated scales which can be used to show more detailed progress in specific areas.

8. What about those students who are not meeting the standards year on year, yet making progress? This could be really demoralising.
It is important that students and parents have a realistic understanding of their progress and achievement and remain motivated to learn. The reporting and celebrating progress is important here, as is indicating the possibilities of achieving higher levels in future and what is needed to achieve them.
9. What about students who aren’t at school for significant periods of time, for whatever reason?
Any report to parents should be very clear about circumstances which may have affected student performance, including prolonged absences.
10. When is our 2010 charter due by?
The timing hasn’t changed. But good practice suggests that it needs to be completed early in the year if it’s to be useful to you and your community.

11. Are we able to use assessments from other learning areas to decide where children are against the National Standards?
Yes, there will be assessments in other learning areas that would help to inform a teacher when making an overall teacher judgment. The NAGs make it clear that schools should use a range of assessment practices and ‘gather information that is sufficiently comprehensive’ and of ‘good quality’ when developing and implementing teaching and learning programmes in all areas of the national curriculum, giving priority to literacy and numeracy, especially in years 1 to 8.

Schools will decide, and should be able to justify, their choices about the assessment activities and the tools and processes they use. Good practice suggests that an overall judgment about progress and achievement in reading and writing needs to be made within the context of the curriculum learning areas.
12. Will teachers be required to use norm-referenced assessment tools?
NAG 1 (ii) requires schools to “through a range of assessment practices, gather information that is sufficiently comprehensive to enable the progress and achievement of students to be evaluated; giving priority first to student achievement in literacy and numeracy, especially in years 1-8”.

In order to meet this requirement, teachers will need to use a range of assessment practices, including tools that are norm-referenced for New Zealand students.
13. How are we going to manage assessing students at age-related times rather than everyone at the same time as we do currently?
Teachers already assess their students throughout the year. The National Standards require teachers to make an overall teacher judgment at least twice a year and to make a judgment at that time on the standard that the student’s achievement best fits.

Schools may choose to do this at age-related times or to make these judgments for the whole class at the same time, depending on the school’s reporting to parents’ cycle timing and process.
14. What about children who, at the end of 36 months at school, are in year 4? Which standards count?
All standards count. Each school should decide its policy for students who fall into this space, this will probably relate to its reporting cycles and processes. If a school has flexible reporting times, it may be appropriate to report after 36 months of schooling. If the school has a reporting schedule that follows a timeline (for example, initial interviews and goal setting, mid-year progress report, end of year report) then it may be more appropriate to use the year 4 standard at the end of the year.

Teachers should make judgments based on the assessment information they’ve gathered and analysed during the year, then decide their students’ best fit in relation to the standards. Teachers will report achievement as being above, at, below, or well below against the specific standard for the child’s year. They also decide how best to report progress within the standard over the year or between the standards from year to year.

15. How do we compare data gathered from different sources, tools and tests?
To make an overall teacher judgment, it’s important to use information from a variety of assessment activities. Currently, teachers moderate their understandings of achievement with each other, particularly when considering student writing. Teachers will need to discuss student learning with each other to ensure they are confident about the decisions they make using the range of information they have.

To help with this, the Ministry is currently aligning commonly used reading, writing and mathematics assessment tools to the National Standards. This will help teachers to use them with confidence, as part of the evidence leading to overall teacher judgments. This information, and the research which underpins it, will be available on TKI.
16. How do I know my overall teacher judgment is right (ie valid and reliable?)
Teachers will make their overall teacher judgments using their knowledge of each student and suitable assessment information. Guidance on aligning the most popular assessment tools to the standards will be provided to help this. At the same time, schools will be strengthening their moderation processes to support teachers collegially to make these judgments.
17. What strategies will be in place to assist the consistency of teacher judgments with the National Standards?
Effective practice tells us that moderation processes are an important component within a school’s assessment programme. Opportunities for teachers to discuss their interpretation and judgments relative to the range of assessment evidence will build consistency of teachers’ overall teacher judgments. The process of teachers sharing their expectations and understanding of the standards with each other should provide good professional learning opportunities.
18. Will the SMS be ready for the introduction of National Standards?
We expect that SMS enhancements will start to become available to schools from mid-2010. The first enhancements are likely to provide support for plain language reporting for parents and caregivers. Other enhancements include better support for managing assessment data, and improved student record transfer between SMSs.


Reporting
19. What are boards required to report in relation to National Standards?
Boards will be required to set National Standards targets in the 2011 charters and report against these targets in their 2011 annual reports which are submitted to the Ministry of Education by the end of May 2012.

The new National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) require schools to:
• report school-level data in the Board’s Annual Report on National Standards under three headings:
- school strengths and identified areas for improvement
- the basis for identifying areas for improvement
- planned actions for lifting achievement
• report in the Board’s Annual Report on
- the numbers and proportions of students at, above, below or well below the standards, including by Māori, Pasifika and by gender - how students are progressing against the standards as well as how they are achieving.
These requirements apply to annual reports on the 2011 school year, except for schools implementing Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, in which case they apply from the 2012 annual reports.
20. What reports do we have to give parents?
The National Administration Guidelines require schools to ‘report to students and their parents on the student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards. Reporting to parents in plain language must be at least twice a year”.

From February 2010, schools will report to parents in plain language in writing, at least twice a year, on each child’s progress and achievement in reading, writing and maths, in relation to the National Standards. Schools may do this as a separate report or integrate National Standards reporting into existing reports.

In addition to reporting progress and achievement against the standards, schools should also include in one of their reports:
- the goals set for the child and a description of progress against the goals
- supporting assessment information, such as data from assessment activities
- specific ways parents can support their child’s learning
- the measures a school is taking to address and identified learning needs.

The reporting templates will give examples.
21. Why report twice a year?
When we consulted with parents, family and whānau on National Standards, there was a strong appeal for regular reports on their children’s progress and achievement. It has been decided that twice a year fulfils this request. Schools may wish to treat the mid-year (or through year) report as a progress report rather than a comprehensive report.
22. We already report more than twice a year – should we be doing less?
Many schools report more often than twice a year. We don’t want to restrict the frequency with which schools report to parents. Every school’s parents and whānau community is different and has different needs. Finding out what works for your community and responding appropriately is the most important thing.
23. What will the Ministry do to educate students and parents about the reports?
The Ministry of Education website will have information in plain language for parents (which is also suitable for older students) on National Standards reporting. Teachers and schools will also be able to access this material for their parents – by printing it or linking to it on the school website. We recommend that schools and teachers talk to their students and parents about the reporting process and their role in it (student-led conferences are one example of this).
24. If we are constantly upgrading student’s portfolios, does that count as reporting?
No, not on its own. Reporting must be a written communication of some kind, specifically addressed to each student’s parents. Portfolios could be annotated with comments addressed directly to parents to show examples of progress and achievement against the standards.
25. Do we have to report on other subjects as well?
Yes. Schools must report to students and their parents on individual students’ achievement and progress for the whole curriculum.
26. Most of our parents are Pasifika and have English as a second language. Should we report to them in their first languages?
Reporting in plain language is part of the requirement. This would not prevent schools from reporting in the parent’s first language if this is helpful.
27. Do we have to use the plunket graph and/or the templates?
No. Schools will not need to use any particular graph or report template for their National Standards reporting to parents. Some template reports and graphs are on TKI. Schools can use these templates, develop their own or modify their existing reports to specifically include reporting against National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.
28. Do I have to compare students to their class/school/other schools?
No. The only requirement is to assess their progress and achievement against the National Standards.

29. Are teachers going to get advice or examples of plain language from the Ministry?
Yes. The first examples are available on TKI now.
30. How prescriptive is the report format?
All reports on reading, writing and maths should contain:

- The student’s current learning goals
- The student’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards
- What the school will do to support the student’s learning
- What parents, families and whānau can do to support the child’s learning
- Results from assessments the student has undertaken.

The supplied templates are examples which can be used if desired, but schools are free to develop their own format or adapt an existing one.
31. We do fantastic student-led conferences, why do we have to now report twice in writing?
The written reports should complement or become part of existing good practice. For example, written reports against standards could become a catalyst for the student-led conferences.
32. Will we have to spend more time teaching and assessing reading, writing and maths? What will happen to the rest of the curriculum?
Reading, writing and mathematics should not be taught in isolation. Teachers need to give students rich and diverse curriculum contexts to apply and fully develop their literacy and numeracy skills and understandings.

Students need appropriate achievement levels in reading, writing and mathematics to be able to access the broad curriculum outcomes, including those of the values, key competencies and the learning areas.
33. Are my reports able to be check boxes?
Checked boxes can be included in reports, but they shouldn’t be the only way that progress is reported to parents.
34. How will we help people who don’t read, write or understand written reporting?
You are required to send a written report to each student’s parents, but if they struggle to read it, you will probably want to arrange to talk to them about it.
35. How can schools show they are adding value in reading, writing and maths?
Schools can use National Standards to show that their students are making progress from year to year through reference to the standards.
36. Is plain language different in different communities?
The concept of plain language may vary from audience to audience, but the clear intention is that reports are written so that parents can easily understand them.


Support
37. What support will the Ministry provide?
In 2010, schools are required to work with the standards and report to parents twice in plain language.
External support will include:
• workshops/webinars starting in term 4, 2009 for all principals and lead teachers to support them to understand and implement the standards in their schools
• some in-school facilitated professional development, tailored to meet the identified needs of schools or groups of teachers
- some in-depth professional development in reading, writing, mathematics, leadership and assessment. Schools that are having difficulty working with the standards or with identified achievement issues will be prioritised for this support
• Materials (online and print) that will continue to be developed to support identified needs and issues
• A self review tool for teachers, principals, and boards that help schools to identify their areas of strength and areas to focus their development or access support as they start to work with the standards in 2010.
Schools involved in other PD or interventions (for example ICT PD or Schooling Improvement) will continue with those projects. Principals and lead teachers may also need to engage with the information/workshops to ensure their schools are working with the standards as part of their project work.
38. Where are we going to get support for the rest of the curriculum?
It was clear during the consultation that many schools will be seeking support over the next year or two in using the standards. We’ve responded to this information by reprioritising funding to support these areas. There will be less centrally funded support for the other learning areas over this time. Support will be available online.
39. How do the key competencies relate to the National Standards?
The key competencies underpin effective learning and will support learning and achievement in reading, writing, and mathematics, as they do across the curriculum.
40. Will additional time or teacher release days be provided?
No. The National Standards for most schools will involve adding to and strengthening their current good practice. In 2010, each school leadership team will need to plan how they will work with the standards, the changes they may need to make and their implementation programme as part of their in-school professional development time.
41. How will the $36 million in funding allocated for National Standards be distributed?
The Ministry will work with the sector in 2010 to develop ways to allocate this funding. Information about this will be available after June 2010.


ESOL and students with special education needs
42. Why will students with special education needs be assessed against the standards?
Most students with special education needs will be able to progress against and achieve the standards.

A very small group of students have very significant learning disabilities; and are in the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Schemes (ORRS) or are accessing the Supplementary Learning Support service; and are likely to learn long-term within Level 1 of the New Zealand Curriculum. These students’ progress will be assessed against the standards as part of their individual education plans.

Boards of trustees will continue to report on these students separately in their charters and annual reports.
43. How are we going to account for ESOL students in our reporting?
Progress and achievement for new English Language Learners will initially be judged and reported to parents against the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP). There is more detailed information about this in the National Standards books.

Boards will report in their annual reports the progress of children who are new English Language Learners against the National Standards along with all other students. Work is underway to relate the ELLP to the National Standards so that teachers can make a judgement about how a new English Language Learner is progressing in relation to the reading and writing standards.

ERO
44. What will ERO be asking us about the standards in 2010? What will they expect to see?
In all 2010 primary school reviews, ERO will ask about your level of understanding and preparedness to use the standards at teacher, school leader and board level. As usual, ERO will ask about your assessment practices and your achievement information. In particular they will be interested in:

- The quality of teaching and learning within the NZ Curriculum
- How you are using data to focus your teaching on identified groups of students, and how you are involving students in setting and understanding their learning goals
- How you make your judgments about student achievement – especially the ways you moderate these judgments to ensure consistency and reliability
- How you are reporting to parents in ways they can understand and help them assist their children’s learning
- How school leaders use assessment information to benchmark achievement and how you are preparing to use the standards to set targets in your 2011 charters. ERO will ask how you use this information as part of your self review
- How your current school practices enable: teachers to use assessment data to provide focused teaching; teachers to make judgments about student achievement and rates of progress; teachers to report accurately to parents and students; -school leaders to benchmark achievement information to inform self review and to plan and report.

ERO will gather school-level information, and analyse this to provide a national report on how schools are preparing to use standards as part of their teaching the New Zealand Curriculum.

Communication
45. How are parents going to be told about this?
The Ministry of Education website has plain language information for parents (which is also suitable for older students) on National Standards. Teachers and schools will be able to use this material for their parents – by printing it, or linking to it on the school website. We recommend that schools and teachers talk to their students and parents about the reporting process and their role in it (student-led conferences are one example of this).
46. How are boards going to be informed?
Boards will be informed about the standards through training (including webinars and face-to-face) and regular updates in the Education Gazette’s Board View. Training will be integrated into existing resources such as the Circulars and NZSTA memos. The Ministry of Education will also work with the NZSTA to ensure information is distributed to boards.
47. What is the role of boards in setting standards?
In 2010 teachers and principals will focus on working with the standards and reporting to parents. Boards should review (using the self-review tool) school assessment practices and ensure teachers report to parents on their child’s progress and achievement against the standards.

The overall teacher judgments in relation to standards in 2010 will inform targets against the National Standards in the 2011 charter and give a focus for resource and professional development in 2011. The planning and reporting requirements will be published in the revised NAGs after they are gazetted on 29 October 2009.
48. How do the standards relate to existing documents and strategies, such as Ka Hikitia?
The National Standards are designed to support teaching and learning and have been written to complement the curriculum. By focusing the education system on reading, writing and mathematics, the standards will help all students learn across the curriculum. The standards will give parents, family and whānau good information about their children’s progress and achievement and suggest ways they can support their child’s learning.

The National Standards support existing initiatives such as Ka Hikitia.

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