Getting ākonga ready for new NCEA literacy and numeracy

Issue: Volume 102, Number 14

Posted: 16 November 2023
Reference #: 1HAd0y

Dedicated standards for literacy, numeracy, te reo matatini and pāngarau will be a mandatory part of achieving NCEA from 2026. From next year, new requirements are in place using either the dedicated standards or standards from NCEA subjects.

Supporting all learners to succeed in their next steps in learning, life and work is at the heart of the new requirements coming to life through NCEA changes next year.

Learners, when they are ready to be assessed, will participate in literacy and numeracy Common Assessment Activities (CAAs), using standards developed by NZQA and the Ministry of Education. This change requires secondary schools, kura, tertiary, and alternative education providers to make significant adjustments to support learners.   

A series of case studies demonstrates effective practice for understanding learner readiness, cross-curricular approaches and provides examples of facilitating the literacy and numeracy Common Assessment Activities.

When learners are ready to sit the assessment and feel comfortable it helps to create a positive assessment experience, further supporting their self-esteem.

NCEA literacy and numeracy case studies explore:

  • Using student data and readiness indicators.
  • Tracking and communicating of student literacy and numeracy achievement.
  • Identifying students at risk of not achieving the co-requisite and providing support for these students across subjects.
  • Cross-curricular approaches to NCEA literacy and numeracy.
  • Using ākonga and whānau voice to inform processes.

Literacy and numeracy case studies - NCEA(external link)

Using student data and readiness indicators

What are assessment tools? E-asTTle, Progressive Achievement Tests (PATs), Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT), Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT), English Language Learning Progressions are all recommended as effective assessment tools. They can be used to determine whether ākonga are at upper level 4 or level 5 of the New Zealand Curriculum Phase 3 or Phase 4 of Te Mātaiaho, the refreshed New Zealand Curriculum, in the English and Mathematics and Statistics learning areas.

Observations from teachers and conversations with ākonga are also valuable assessment tools. With these tools teachers can notice and recognise where learners are at, as well as understand their confidence in their literacy and numeracy skills.

Sharon-Alvey-Ball, principal’s nominee and head of English at Queen Charlotte College, explains how they use data to help inform whether ākonga are ready for the literacy and numeracy CAAs.

Queen Charlotte College have focused professional development on how to use e-asTTle effectively to determine readiness, using Ministry-provided guidance to upskill staff.

For Year 10s in term 1 and term 3, e-asTTle testing was used for both reading and writing. Teachers identified students who are achieving a score that indicates they will be successful in the CAAs.

In June 2023, this data, as well as teacher observations and judgement, were used in a decision to administer the Reading standard CAA only. E-asTTle writing results showed that many students were not yet at the level which would indicate readiness for the Writing CAA.

The same approach to readiness was used for the numeracy assessment. Using teacher judgements and observations, Progressive Achievement Tests (PAT) and e-asTTle throughout the year, students were selected to sit the numeracy CAA. This has resulted in a high achievement rate for numeracy in Queens Charlotte College.

Experience and insights from Queen Charlotte College(external link)

Tracking literacy and numeracy achievement

Tracking student literacy and numeracy achievement throughout their NCEA journey is important.

Schools who share this data across the school allow teachers in every subject to support students with their literacy and numeracy needs.

Kamo High School’s Numeracy Leader Daniel May-Whitcombe says they aim to integrate literacy and numeracy teaching and learning across all subjects.

Dedicated roles of a Literacy and numeracy Leader were established in 2022. They quickly identified that a method to track learner progress was needed.

To capture a snapshot of ākonga literacy and numeracy achievement in Year 12 and 13, they created a system where progress could be tracked on a single spreadsheet. This spreadsheet was colour coded so teachers could easily identify students who needed more literacy and/or numeracy support.

This data was updated and shared electronically in the staff fortnightly bulletin. Sharing this data gave every teacher the opportunity to continuously identify students in their classes that needed literacy or numeracy support.

Student progress could also be communicated with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and whānau. Daniel noted that, “All staff realised that it was a whole school effort. It was not just one learning area that would enable our tauira to become numerate or literate”.

How Kamo High School is supporting every teacher to be a teacher of numeracy(external link)

Supporting students across subjects to reach their potential

SEE Classroom posterBy tracking student achievement, schools can identify those who are not ready to achieve one or more of the standards assessed through the CAAs. This allows teachers and kaiako to provide wrap around support for that student through targeted teaching.

This approach is most effective when teachers across all learning areas are informed and involved so that they can further support identified students in their subject area. Francis Douglas Memorial College and demonstrate this way of working.

Melinda Stevenson, deputy principal of Francis Douglas Memorial College, says through analysis of assessment data teachers identify ‘ARONAs’. This was the school developed acronym for “At Risk of Not Achieving (to their potential)”.

In year specific groupings, teachers and the Dean of the identified students meet regularly to discuss ARONA learners. In the meetings staff share ideas and create a plan to support these students’ learning and engagement.

How Francis Douglas Memorial College are demonstrating shifts in practice.(external link)

Cross-curricular approaches

Every kaiako and teacher needs to be a teacher of literacy and numeracy in their subject. Every kaiako and teacher needs to know what they can do to support ākonga to develop their literacy and numeracy skills.

The literacy pedagogy guides and the numeracy pedagogy guides showcase a selection of literacy-rich and numeracy-rich contexts in different learning areas and the small, effective steps that teachers can weave into their teaching practice. Many schools in the NCEA literacy and numeracy case studies demonstrate whole-school literacy and numeracy practice.

Literacy pedagogy guides – NCEA(external link) 

Numeracy pedagogy guides – NCEA(external link)

Rosy Eilis, Literacy lead, at Hamilton Boys High School implemented a whole school approach to the explicit teaching of writing, The HBHS Writing Framework. This approach would continuously remind students of the steps to planning and proof-reading writing. This approach also highlighted key writing components, such as paragraphs and punctuation.

The HBHS Writing Framework is a four-stage process approach to writing: Think, Plan, Write, Proofread. This writing framework is easy to use and “works across every single subject”.

Rosy met with each faculty to ensure the wording in the framework was applicable to every subject.

At Kāpiti College, Vikki Clarke, who is the head of Mathematics, organised the maths department to support other departments in unpacking where numeracy exists in their subjects.

From this the maths department support all teachers to develop numeracy rich activities in their subject area. This work occurred within weekly staff PD time.

Each department was given the freedom to choose what area of numeracy they would like to incorporate in their teaching based on what suited their subject best. Mathematics and Statistics teachers then supported these teachers to ensure that the numeracy vocabulary and procedures were correct.

At Otago Girls High School, head of Science Vicki Millar worked with a Ministry of Education Professional Learning and Development (PLD) provider to “spend some time looking at and understanding what NCEA literacy would actually look like in a Science classroom”.

This included understanding the Literacy Learning Matrix(external link) and the Learning Progression Frameworks(external link) in order to identify what literacy skills students needed to know and develop within science.

Once teachers had a good understanding of this, Vicki shared some of the “key shifts in practice” that would support student’s literacy outcomes in science.

Developing a whole school approach to literacy at Hamilton Boys’ High School(external link)

Kāpiti College’s approach to cross-curricular teaching and learning(external link)

Supporting every teacher with literacy and numeracy at Otago Girls’ High School(external link)

Kāpiti College Vikki Clarke, head of mathematics

Kāpiti College Vikki Clarke, head of mathematics

Ākonga and whānau voice informs process

Conversations with ākonga gives great insight into their confidence in their literacy and numeracy capabilities. Including ākonga and whānau voice when considering readiness for the CAAs is important. Te Kura demonstrate great practice in this area.

Assessment and qualifications lead Bernice Singh says, “Kaiako look at the results and if ākonga are working at curriculum level 5, then the next step is to have a conversation with the ākonga to see if they would like to complete the CAA.”

She says they also, “contact the whānau and say, ‘hey, look, you're [child is] doing fantastically well … Would you like this opportunity?’ They take a positive approach to these conversations.”

Te Kura also takes “a holistic approach to determining assessment readiness”, noting that while an ākonga may be academically ready, they may need further support or time to be ready to sit the assessment due to psychological reasons.

Effective practice when determining readiness to sit the CAAs – Te Kura(external link)

Case Studies – NCEA(external link)

NCEA co-requisite standards

These are new standards developed to assess the new NCEA requirements: Literacy-Reading, Literacy-Writing, Numeracy, Te Reo Matatini and Pāngarau.

Dedicated literacy and numeracy standards are aligned to upper level 4 and lower level 5 of the English and Mathematics and Statistics learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum. This aligns to Phase 3 and 4 of Te Mātaiaho, the refreshed New Zealand Curriculum in both English and Maths and Statistics.

Learners who are ready for the literacy and numeracy standards have full mastery over Curriculum Level 4 and are ready to work at Level 5/Phase 3 and are ready to work at Phase 4 of Te Mātaiaho| the refreshed New Zealand Curriculum in both English and Maths and Statistics.

Dedicated standards for te reo matatini and pāngarau are aligned to He Tīrewa Ako and upper level 4 and lower end of level 5 of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Readiness for assessment means that learners are demonstrating skill at the level appropriate to be assessed. Knowing when learners are ready for the literacy and numeracy assessment will provide them with the best opportunity to be successful and have a positive assessment experience.

HBHS Writing Framework

HBHS Writing Framework

Key terms

NCEA co-requisite

The 20-credit requirement. Made up of 10 literacy or te reo matatini credits and 10 numeracy or pāngarau credits. From 2024, the 20-credit requirement is mandatory for the awarding of any level of NCEA.

NCEA co-requisite standards

New standards developed to assess the co-requisite: Literacy-Reading, Literacy-Writing, Numeracy, Te Reo Matatini, Pāngarau.

Common Assessment Activities (CAAs)

The assessment method for the co-requisite standards, in particular Literacy-Reading, Literacy-Writing, Numeracy.

Kete Manarua

The portfolio collection of evidence of learning in naturally occurring assessment settings for Te Reo Matatini and Pāngarau dedicated standards (in addition to the CAA option).

Additional assessment standards

The list of unit and achievement standards that will be recognised towards the co-requisite during the transitional period of 2024 and 2025. These standards can be used in combination with or alongside the co-requisite standards.

NCEA Education for more information and eligibility criteria(external link)

Transitional period

The two-year timeframe (2024 and 2025) for schools, kura, and other NCEA providers to make the shift to using only the co-requisite standards. Additional assessment standards and assessment approaches are available for learners during this period. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:15 am, 16 November 2023

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