Noticing, recognising and responding to learning progress

Issue: Volume 102, Number 7

Posted: 8 June 2023
Reference #: 1HAa9x

Te Mātaiaho | the refreshed New Zealand curriculum will support every ākonga (learner) to experience success in their learning. It will give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and will be inclusive, clear about the learning that matters, and easy to use from Year 0 to Year 13. Noticing, recognising and responding (NRR) will help learners progress and chart the path of their own learning journey.

NNR will help learners chart the path of their own learning journey.

NRR will help learners chart the path of their own learning journey.

One of the ways in which ākonga learn best is when teachers notice ākonga progress and respond through adapting their teaching practice.

For many years, Te Tāhuhu o Te Mātauranga | The Ministry of Education’s approach to assessment was a focus on assessment for learning (AfL) as a means of improving teaching and learning.

In recent years, the Ministry prioritised support for teachers and schools as its assessment strategy for the schooling sector (largely through professional learning targeted at improving assessment capability).

As we work towards a refresh of Te Mātaiaho | The refreshed New Zealand Curriculum, and reflect on the importance of assessment as an integral part of teaching and learning, the question now within a progression-based landscape is, “How will we harness the full potential that assessment can make to lifting ākonga progress?”

Te Mātaiaho marks a clear shift from the 2007 outcomes-focused curriculum to a progressions-focused curriculum. Te Mātaiaho provides these progressions in the form of phases of learning, progress outcomes and progress steps. The phases replace the curriculum levels of the 2007 NZC.

Te Mātaiaho (the strands of learning, which refers to the eight learning areas) gives clarity about the teaching and learning ākonga need to experience at each successive phase of learning. They are cumulative, and so success at one phase sets ākonga up for success at the next phase. Te Mātaiaho clarifies the learning that matters, is progression-based, and is bicultural and inclusive.

The shift to progression requires distinctive practices that support assessment – and recognising that the intention of Assessment for Learning and best practices have been positively refined by early learning, schools and teachers noticing, recognising and responding to help learners progress and chart the path of their own learning journey.  

NRR within progress outcomes and progress steps

Within progress outcomes and progress steps, NRR supports teachers to purposefully use classroom observations and conversations notice, ākonga work, and reliable assessment information to recognise, and then respond to learner progress as they plan and modify what and how they teach to meet all ākonga needs.

In this context, ‘noticing’ doesn't just happen by chance. It is the active and deliberate process of being present during a learning experience. 

Teachers must deliberately cultivate ‘noticing’ by being in the moment, aware, and responding in ways that best support ākonga progress.

Empowering ākonga

Many teachers are already empowering ākonga to be assessment-capable, active participants in understanding their learning progress, for example, including ākonga in selecting exemplars of their work to provide important evidence of progression.

Ākonga who are involved in their learning can be thought of as assessment-capable (or active learners). By increasing learner agency, it also increases ākonga ability to discuss their progress and goals with their family.  

Assessment-capable learners need to know:

  • what they need to learn
  • where they are at with that learning
  • what their next learning steps are.

Teachers ‘noticing, recognising and responding’ provides a basis for reporting ākonga achievements to parents in a way that is clear and demonstrates progress in learning. This supports conversations about progress.

What does this mean for schools and whānau?

The ways that schools notice, recognise and respond to learning progress will vary along the learner pathway, as well as valuing and responding to the context of each learner, their family and their cultures, languages and identities.

The future focus is to strengthen understanding of the common ways to notice, recognise and respond to learning progress. This includes aligning assessment approaches (supported by “Progressions in Action”) with Te Mātaiaho, and the Literacy & Communication and Mathematics Strategy.

Ministry of Education Position Paper: Assessment refresh

The last Ministry of Education Position Paper: Assessment (Schooling Sector) was developed in 2011.

The repositioned direction for assessment will be provided through the Pedagogy & Assessment section of Te Mātaiaho and expanded upon in the Common Practice Model for Literacy & Communication and Mathematics.

The Ministry is on a journey towards equity and excellence, with a focus on the whole child (including wellbeing) and supporting schools in not leaving learning to chance.

Te Mātaiaho includes progress outcomes, phases of learning, and an “Understand Know Do” model. These new framings will need to be considered in the refresh of the Position Paper: Assessment.

In the meantime, schools should keep using existing quality assessment practices and tools, informed by the guidance on Assessment Online. This includes continuing to use the current NZC (2007) as the basis of reporting on progress and achievement.

For more information on the refreshed New Zealand Curriculum, visit Curriculum Refresh website(external link).

For more information on Assessment, visit Home - Assessment ( link)

For more information on Reporting guidance, visit Reporting to parents & whānau / Home - Assessment ( link)


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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 8:41 am, 8 June 2023

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