Methodology

Evaluation framework

The following evaluation questions provided the framework for the ERO reports: The Collection and Use of Assessment Information in Schools and The Collection and Use of Assessment Information: Good Practice in Secondary Schools.

  • How effectively does the school develop and implement an integrated school-wide approach to assessment practices and information?
  • How effectively does assessment information demonstrate students’ achievements and progress?
  • How effective is the interaction of assessment with teaching and learning?
  • How effectively do students use information about their achievement for further learning?
  • How effectively is school-wide information established and used to improve student achievement?

How effectively is information about students’ achievements reported to the community?

Schools in this study

For this study, ERO selected five schools of a variety of roll sizes and deciles located across New Zealand. They included coeducational, single sex and integrated schools. These schools were able to demonstrate effective practice in the collection and use of assessment information.

School 1

This was a decile 4, coeducational secondary school in an urban area.

In 2006 there were 932 students on the school’s roll, of which 44 percent were New Zealand European/Pākehā, 40 percent Māori, 13 percent Pacific and 3 percent Asian.

The board of trustees demonstrated a good understanding of governance and clear expectations were set for receiving information on student achievement, to inform board decisions and set future directions.

Teachers analysed and evaluated assessment information to improve students’ learning. The information was used effectively to identify school-wide trends and patterns of achievement for individuals and groups of students. Comprehensive moderation processes across all levels of the school enhanced the quality of the data gathered.

In May and November each year, teachers assessed Years 9, 10 and 11 students in reading comprehension with the use of Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (asTTle).

Teachers were ‘assessment literate’. In the previous three years teachers had undertaken professional development in Assess to Learn (AtoL) and asTTle, and commented that being markers for external assessment for National Certificates in Educational Achievement (NCEA) had particularly helped build their assessment knowledge.

School 2

This was a decile 1, coeducational, multicultural, urban secondary school.

In 2006 there were 1440 students, of whom 36 percent were Samoan, 16 percent Tongan, 12 percent Māori, 9 percent Cook Island Māori, 8 percent Indian, 6 percent Niuean, 4 percent New Zealand European/Pākehā and 9 percent other ethnicities.

The school’s involvement in the initiative, Achievement in Multicultural High Schools(AIMHI), provided support for the board and staff to improve literacy and numeracy strategies in the junior school, and achievement at Level 1 of NCEA. Heads of departments analysed NCEA data comprehensively, so teachers could plan programmes that were relevant to students’ learning needs. Teachers analysed asTTle reading data for Year 9 students to guide class placement and to identify students who required additional learning support.

At the senior level, teachers collated and analysed assessment data thoroughly. The board offered a diverse range of courses to enable students to gain credits towards national certificates and qualifications.

An external consultant provided ongoing support for heads of department to review department documentation and the quality of planning. This support helped staff to develop and implement consistent planning, assessment and evaluation processes across departments.

In the previous three years teachers had undertaken professional development by attending NCEA training days run by New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) personnel and departmental specialists, AIMHI workshops in internal and external assessment practices and staff meetings with an assessment focus.

These strategies increased teachers’ knowledge of their students’ abilities and how to integrate assessment practice with teaching and learning.

School 3

This was a decile 6, state integrated boys’ school (Years 7 to 13) in an urban area.

In 2006 there were 850 students on the roll. The ethnic composition was New Zealand European/Pākehā 52 percent, Samoan 14 percent, Māori 10 percent, South East Asian 9 percent, Tongan and Indian 3 percent each, Chinese 2 percent, Cook Island Māori Niuean, Fijian, South African 1 percent each, other ethnicities 3 percent.

A senior management team was in charge of assessment, made up of the academic advisor, the head of mathematics, two deputy principals and the principal. They recognised that using high quality achievement and assessment information would improve students’ learning.

Moderation of departmental assessment was rigorous. Senior management and subject leaders devised a procedure to make sure that the moderation of Years 7 to 13 students’ assessments was timetabled and completed. Departments met regularly to moderate common tests and assignments. The moderation process was discussed fully among staff members at department meetings to ensure consistency across classes and teachers.

In the previous three years, teachers had undertaken professional development in Gifted and Talented education and assessment, AtoL, asTTle, the Achievement @Waitakere (A@W) initiative that addresses underachievement of Māori and Pacific students, and NCEA workshops.

School 4

This was a decile 7, coeducational (Years 9 to 13) school, located in a provincial town.

In 2006 there were 554 students on the roll. The ethnic composition was New Zealand European/Pākehā 86 percent, Māori 12 percent, Asian 1 percent and 1 percent identifying as other ethnicities.

Teachers made good use of assessment information to improve students’ learning. Data from students’ primary schools were used to help plan their secondary programme. Teachers used assessment data to inform their planning, modify programmes, and report to parents and the board of trustees on student progress and achievement. Students’ learning needs were identified and progress was tracked for individuals, groups and classes. Good practice was seen where teachers used national test results to share information with other teachers and to inform school-wide achievement targets.

School 5

This school was a decile 9, state integrated school for girls (Years 7 to 13), and located in a provincial town.

In 2006 the roll was 340. The ethnic composition was New Zealand European/Pākehā 89 percent; Asian 5 percent; Māori 4 percent; Pacific 1 percent and 1 percent other ethnicity.

Teachers used students’ achievement and assessment information to improve learning and report on progress. They provided opportunities for formal and informal assessments that guided students in achieving national standards in the senior school. In Years 7 to 10, diagnostic achievement data gave teachers information about the literacy and numeracy skills of their students. Teachers used the curriculum achievement objectives in several learning areas to write units of work and create their own standards-based assessments. Moderation of common assessment tasks occurred in departments, with other schools and in some cases, incorporated the advice of local advisors. The school had developed common procedures for assessment that provided students with feedback on their progress.