Lifting learning with Curriculum Progress Tools

Issue: Volume 100, Number 7

Posted: 10 June 2021
Reference #: 1HALiT

For the past few years, a Southland secondary school has been on a journey to improve the transition to high school and teaching and learning outcomes across the curriculum using Curriculum Progress Tools (CPT).

Discussing student work and tasks from the Maths Learning Progression framework are Monika Du Plessis, HOD Maths Gore High School, and Charlotte Forbes and Alicia Prescott from Longford Intermediate.

Discussing student work and tasks from the Maths Learning Progression framework are Monika Du Plessis, HOD Maths Gore High School, and Charlotte Forbes and Alicia Prescott from Longford Intermediate.

Gore High School first became interested in understanding the concept of progress and developing a common language for reading, writing and maths across all Year 9 and 10 subjects in 2019, says deputy principal Melanie Hamilton. 

“We were interested in having a common language to talk about what progress looked like, because progress looks different in each curriculum area; but we had no common language to discuss how a child could progress, how to feedback to a child and feed forward about what the next steps in their learning would be,” explains Melanie.

Gore High School’s strategic planning is now focused on school-wide literacy using CPT (Curriculum Progress Tools), which also helps to develop some school-wide targets.

“Secondary school teachers are probably not trained in teaching reading as such, they train in subjects, so they needed to get some understanding of what the steps of reading and writing looked like,” she says.

PaCT (Progress and Consistency Tool) is a way of collecting and analysing measurements from a range of places. 

“It gives us amazing data on where the gaps are in a cohort, in terms of a class or a year level. For example,
we might be able to see that they’re not particularly good at reading critically, so then we’ll focus some of our work on that.

“One of the joys of PaCT is that the data gives a fantastic profile of a child and their reading, writing and maths for teachers to create individualised learning pathways,” explains Melanie.

Schoolwide PLD

Melanie Hamilton.

Melanie Hamilton.

The school is committed to schoolwide professional learning development (PLD) around the progress tools, with two within-school teachers – one from social studies and one from science – who spread the knowledge and implement activities that support literacy, says Melanie.

Janelle Stevenson from Evaluation Associates in Invercargill has been working with Gore High School since 2018. She has a passion for helping secondary schools benefit from the tools’ Learning Progression Framework (LPF) and PaCT. 

“It’s quite hard for secondary schools to engage with all of the CPTs. They identify with the framework, especially for reading and writing across the curriculum, but they find the PaCT part quite hard to use logistically. For example, maths can use the maths framework, but if you want to go across the whole school, how do you facilitate those discussions with all teachers?” she says. 

“Gore High School is a good example of a school that has led the teacher learning cohesively by integrating the tools with all they do and re-evaluating and refining the processes and outcomes.”  

Starting small

Gore High School started small in 2019, with the English department using the writing framework for Years 9 and 10. 

“Mel could see that if we started with them and first got them conversant with the writing framework, and then using PaCT; they would then generate some writing data which would be of interest to everyone.

“In the first year, I would meet with the English teachers either individually or as a group, and we would look at the framework and how it linked to their writing programme,” explains Janelle.

By the end of the year, Janelle King, HOD English, was ready to share PaCT data about students’ writing achievement with all other departments and teachers at
the school.

“As well as seeing if students were low compared with the national expectation of what progress in writing looks like, we could also see where they were low. So suddenly we had some things about writing rather than just saying they’re not good writers – that was the hook to go schoolwide the following year,” says Janelle Stevenson. 

Aspects of reading

In 2020, the school’s English department continued working with the CPT’s writing framework. The mathematics department picked up the maths framework and the remaining staff learned about aspects of the reading framework that were relevant to their subjects.

 Janelle Stevenson.

Janelle Stevenson.

“That’s how we chose to start at the beginning of the year, so that departments would have one or two aspects to learn about, focus on, and look at where it was in their teaching programme,” explains Janelle.

“We might look at some student work, or a unit or a task and pull out the reading in there and link it to the aspect. Then we could start to look at some strategies to put into their lessons or their planning or learning outcomes.

“Being able to read and write is required in all subjects. That’s one of the things in the secondary context that is more difficult to manage because everybody teaches literacy, but up until the last few years, there were very few contextualised subject exemplars connecting them to each other,” she says. 

Transferring skills and knowledge

Students don’t generally transfer skills from subject to subject unless all their teachers start to consistently talk the same way. Melanie says the progress tools provide a common language to help students transfer their knowledge and skills.

“They might have those strengths in art, but if we’re not using some of the same techniques and activities with them, they might not recognise that they can actually do that in English,” she says.

“We’re trying to get that common language, so that if we’re talking about text structure and features in art, then we’re also talking about it in English, science and so on.” 

New NCEA standards

New NCEA standards will require students to pass standards in literacy and numeracy as a co-requisite to receiving a formal NCEA qualification. Melanie says there’s a direct link between understanding the PaCT data and understanding NCEA readiness under the change package. 

“One of the new literacy co-requisites for NCEA is indicated by a PaCT scale score. Last year about 60-70 per cent of our Year 10s would have been ready for the literacy test, so it’s up to us to get them ready for that a bit sooner,” she says.

The qualification for literacy is top of Level 4, bottom of Level 5 for reading and writing. This year one of the school’s strategic targets is to have 80 per cent of Year 10 students with a PaCT Scale score in the range of 750-850 for reading and 870-900 in writing.

The data provided in the PaCT tool allows a school to show value added, says Melanie.

“For example, last year’s Year 10s, who are now in Year 11, had a group who needed more support with their writing and were considered below the curriculum level expected of them when they were at the end of Year 9. 

“By the end of Year 10, we could clearly show that this group of students had moved significantly closer to the expected curriculum level through our actions. That was affirming for us, that our work with LPF and PaCT was on the right track for our students, literacy-wise,” she says.

Discussing student work and tasks from the Writing Learning Progression framework are Renata Jackson, Longford Intermediate Deputy Principal, and Debbie Drummond, Assistant HOD English Gore High School.

Discussing student work and tasks from the Writing Learning Progression framework are Renata Jackson, Longford Intermediate Deputy Principal, and Debbie Drummond, Assistant HOD English Gore High School.

Supporting transition

Gore High School is working on a collaborative piece of PLD with its main feeder school, Longford Intermediate.

“My staff and I were interested in the notion of understanding of consistency across schools in the Kāhui Ako and in particular, our feeder. We’ve done some collaborative PLD with Longford Intermediate in maths and literacy,” says Melanie.

“The teachers at Gore Intermediate School were really interested to go into the classrooms at the intermediate and vice versa. But that’s quite a risky thing to do because people might feel judged. 

“So, if we have this framework as a common understanding, and we’re looking at what the framework looks like in the school, it’s different than looking at the teaching and learning in an isolated way without common frames of reference,” explains Janelle. 

From the beginning of 2021, Gore High School’s transition data has been enhanced with the PaCT data attached to individual students, cohorts and classes from Longford Intermediate. The data is used by Gore High School teachers before Year 9 students start school to identify numbers, needs and names.

“In terms of transition, the data coming in about students’ learning is awesome – it’s clear, we know what they can do, and we know where the gaps are. In the past we’ve used other data – like PATs – where you cannot see as clearly the next steps for kids. 

“The data has allowed senior leaders and heads of departments to look at the group of students as a whole and what needs they have in terms of reading, writing and mathematics. Our Learning Support Co-ordinator can set targets and goals using the data for the students he is working with,” Melanie explains.

Strengths and gaps

The PaCT data enables teachers to identify areas which need more focus, as well as PLD support, says Melanie.

“What’s different about this data from standardised tool data is that it shows strengths and gaps. They can address the gaps, identify key aspects to focus on, think about what the next steps in progress look like by using the signposts, and look at being more explicit in their teaching and learning around the literacy demands. 

“The data may also identify that the teachers need PLD support with planning and enacting strategies for teaching and learning.

“A good example is our science department’s focus on reading critically and writing to influence. Our within-school teacher planned an approach, which was shared with the other teachers, and they then linked it in to their planning and teaching, trialled, shared and evaluated it – then the social science department picked it up and adapted it,” she says.

Some of the mahi at the World Inquiry into Moderation Café held recently.

Some of the mahi at the World Inquiry into Moderation Café held recently.

Moderation Café

In May, Gore High School, Longford Intermediate and St Mary’s School in Gore attended a ‘World Inquiry into Moderation Café’, which looked at one aspect of maths and one aspect of writing.

“There were tables set up as signposts and teachers put student work on each and had conversations looking at how they make the judgements (for PaCT). That’s a way of facilitating conversation using the framework as the non-threatening tool in the background,” says Janelle.


The CPT Website(external link)  links to the Learning Progression Frameworks (LPFs) and The Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT). 

The Learning and Progression Frameworks support teachers to understand the progress the learner is making, and PaCT is a tool to track the progress. These tools inform teachers about the next steps for the learners.

There are guides, support videos (primary and secondary focus), screencasts and more information on the Learn About  options for each tool. There is also advice on setting these up in your school, making judgements and using reports.

The website has been designed to support you to understand and use the two curriculum tools. Each webpage outlines key messages and includes a range of resources that you can use in school based PLD.

Range of supports offered

Online PLD (delivered via Zoom). A programme over two terms to support understanding and implementation of the Curriculum Progress Tools. Contact to indicate your interest and receive more information.

Support Schools Network. Peer-to-peer support for teachers and schools. Contact to access this connection.

Regional Progress Officer (RPO). There are designated RPOs in the regional offices available to support schools who are exploring implementation or developing their use of the Curriculum Progress Tools. Contact your regional office to connect with your local RPO. 

Regionally Allocated PLD. A Regionally Allocated PLD application through your local Ministry office could allow you access to facilitators who will support you to implement or develop use of the Curriculum Progress Tools.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 8:35 AM, 10 June 2021

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