NZQA online support welcomed for internal assessment

Issue: Volume 100, Number 12

Posted: 15 September 2021
Reference #: 1HAPeV

NZQA has produced a series of free online resources that aim to support teachers/assessors with internal assessment in a range of subjects and standards.

Angela Jones is the online learning manager, assessment and moderation at NZQA.

Angela Jones is the online learning manager, assessment and moderation at NZQA.

The feedback from teachers wanting more support from NZQA for internal assessment and moderation has been welcomed, says Angela Jones, NZQA online learning manager assessment and moderation.

“This ties in well with our work to carefully shift some of the focus from monitoring after the event towards building the capability in schools and with teachers before they develop, mark and moderate internal assessment,” she says.

With new standards being implemented from 2023, starting with Level 1 standards, Angela says NZQA is taking the opportunity to test and seek feedback for the self-help online modules and short workshops. The free modules are available 24/7, and teachers/assessors can self-enrol and work at their own pace.

“The Ministry of Education has supplied online modules for the recent Teacher-Only Days for sector use and we are looking to provide a similar online experience to support teachers. We have some online products for the existing standards and we expect to expand on these as the new standards are introduced.

“We’ve had the online workshops and Transforming Assessment Praxis available since 2015 – but we’re now ramping up the number of modules across more subjects. A focus for the team in 2020 was to produce more online resources for teachers to access remotely,” she says.

What’s available

The current content accessible on NZQA’s Learning Management System, Pūtake, via the Education Sector Logon consists of the following:

  • Bite-sized modules – Short sharp learning experiences focusing on a particular aspect of a standard or group of standards.
  • Online Making Assessor Judgements – These enable teachers to make and justify assessment decisions confidently and reliably by examining real examples of student work.
  • Transforming Assessment Praxis – How to modify existing resources, explore diverse ways of collecting evidence and practical, research-based ideas and resources.

From the grassroots

Kerry Allen is the curriculum director of agribusiness at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton.

Kerry Allen is the curriculum director of agribusiness at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton.

Kerry Allen is the curriculum director of agribusiness at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton and has written two of the new modules to support colleagues nationwide. She’s also an NCEA moderator, and the secretary and treasurer of HATA (Horticulture Agriculture Teachers Association); she believes there is a need for additional support for teachers assessing NCEA standards.

“Particularly in my subject, Agricultural and Horticultural Science, many of the teachers are working alone in their school. It can be quite lonely and sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. So even if you think you’ve got it all sorted, something like these online resources can just help you clarify what is needed,” she explains.

A subject like Agricultural and Horticultural Science (AgHort) may have different definitions and standards to other subjects, she adds.

“For example, one of the modules that I wrote was for a Level 2 standard, looking at an investigation and part of that asks for findings from another source. Students carry out their own investigation. Let’s say it’s ‘looking at photosynthesis levels and the number of leaves on a cutting’.

“They can do that in class, but then the standard asks them to find these findings from another external source – so they need to find scientific literature to back up that information that they’ve found.

“It couldn’t just be comparing it to other students’ results in their class, because we’re not just looking at growing five cuttings on the windowsill. We’re talking about commercially growing 5,000 plants.

“So, they need findings that will support that and look at their investigation in a bigger context. Classroom investigations for biology would be perfectly acceptable on a small scale, whereas not for AgHort where you’re trying to think on a big scale.”

Online upskilling

Kerry says the online modules and workshops will help teachers upskill in their own time, especially if they haven’t assessed a standard for a while, or not at all.

“There’s no risk in these modules, you can have a wrong answer, and nobody is recording it. You’ll get the correct answer and the reasons why,” she says.

She says the modules are ‘short and sweet’ and include multi-choice questions and flip cards.

“They allow teachers to see other students’ work. We have an activity where you look at a student’s response to an assessment and have to work out whether it was an achieved, merit or excellence based on the evidence that was provided in it.

“You only know what you know in your school. For example, if you have a lot of highly academic kids, you might be asking for more than is needed. It was designed to show teachers the range and have an idea where those grade boundaries are – it can be hard to determine if it’s a high achieved, or a low merit,” she says.

Online modules and workshops will help teachers upskill in assessment practice.

Online modules and workshops will help teachers upskill in assessment practice.

Cost-effective ecosystem

NZQA hopes the online offerings will be more cost effective for schools and create an ecosystem in which teachers can continue to seek advice and support.

“We are hoping to have a suite of online resources where we check in afterwards, see if there are any questions, and any issues that come up around an assessment,” says Angela.

“We want to make it more that we’re touching base with them rather than one workshop and no follow up.

“We’re trying to create an ecosystem to give them a chance to test what they’ve learnt and then to ask us any follow-up questions.”

As well as achieving more national consistency, Angela suggests the online products may help to minimise teacher and student workload.

“We’re also hoping that by transforming assessment practice, we’re talking about innovative ways that they can do assessments, not limited to a test, and how different types of evidence can be collected and be valid for assessment purposes.

“If they start to explore different ways of assessing and collecting evidence, it may actually minimise teacher and student workload because it’s collected while they are progressing through their teaching and learning. It’s around assessment practice, as well as giving the right grades,” she says.

Reducing workload

A second module that Kerry has written for her subject’s Level 3 research and reporting standard is a good example of focusing students and teachers on what is required for a standard.

“For that Level 3 standard, we can get 25-page-long reports. That is absolutely ridiculous for a Level 3 student and it takes such a long time to mark. The module aims to help teachers understand what the requirements of the standard are and get students to condense the information to the key points.

“This standard is really getting them to think about where they will be going in the future. In terms of, if they’re going to uni, these are the type of skills you need: to be concise, rather than a 25-page report when it should really only be six pages!” says Kerry.

Looking ahead

Teachers will by now be aware of changes in the new assessment materials being developed through the current Review of Achievement Standards (RAS).

RAS promises to expand our understanding of what NCEA assessment might look like, especially in the area of external assessment. These shifts will include a particular emphasis on inclusive design features within assessment activities and ensuring critical perspectives are reflected both in activities and assessor judgements.

Teachers are encouraged to begin to incorporate these aspects into their assessment and aromatawai practices now. By building their skills to recognise, design and implement assessment that is more inclusive and accessible and that recognises mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori, teachers will be better positioned to implement the changes to assessment and their ākonga will reap the full benefits of the vision for NCEA. 

The NZQA Learning Management System Teacher role can be assigned to an Education Sector Logon (ESL) account by a delegated authoriser, granting access to all of the available content.

For NZQA’s online assessor support resources, see www.nzqa.govt.nz/online-support(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:37 AM, 15 September 2021

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