Letter of Commitment for piloting NZC subjects – 2022 NCEA Pilot

2 August 2021

Kia ora,

Letter of Commitment for piloting NZC subjects – 2022 NCEA Pilot
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Thank you for your interest in applying to pilot the new NCEA Level 1 subjects and standards of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).  Participating in the pilot year is an opportunity for schools and kura to contribute to the final refinements of the new subject material, and to get a head-start on preparing to deliver the new content and standards for Level 1 subjects ahead of the 2023 implementation year. 

Before you apply to pilot new subject material, it is important that you are familiar with the wider NCEA change programme (See https://ncea.education.govt.nz/what-ncea-change-programme), and have reviewed the draft subject materials, available by 2 August on NCEA.education.govt.nz. 

The Ministry and NZQA are working together to support all pilot schools and kura. This letter describes our commitment to pilot schools and kura, as well as the commitment pilot schools and kura need to make to successfully contribute to the pilot. 

Please download and send this signed document to NCEA.Pilots@education.govt.nz within one week of submitting the online application form. 

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LOC for NCZ Pilot
Letter of commitment for piloting NZC subjects
Letter of commitment for piloting NZC subjects
Selection Criteria

In order to ensure a successful pilot, the Ministry will apply a number of criteria when selecting schools to participate: 

  • Schools and kura must have Consent to Assess against standards listed on the Directorate of Assessment Standards, and have a positive record of assessment and moderation with NZQA, that demonstrates nationally consistent assessment judgements in the subject/s the school/kura wishes to pilot. 
  • Selection will ensure diversity across region, demographic, and decile, and ensure a representative mix of state and state-integrated schools.
  • Staff trained and qualified with subject specific knowledge and expertise in standards-based assessment.

Additionally, we will be aiming to meet targets for number of students piloting each subject to ensure sufficient evidence is gathered to inform the 2023 implementation year including the development of interim annotated exemplars to guide teacher judgement. We encourage each school and kura to apply to pilot all subjects that you are able to and indicate your preferences by ranking to help inform our selection.

The Ministry will provide:
  • Professional learning and support for developing Teaching and Learning Programmes using the new Learning Matrices, Achievement Standards and other subject material. This will include:
    • An orientation programme available to all teachers involved in the pilot
    • Funding 1 lead teacher per pilot subject to attend a 1-day workshop in Wellington during the first 2 weeks of November, including travel, expenses, and TRDs
    • Follow-up online meetings to support planning, facilitated by a Lead Secondary Adviser
    • Access to support from a Lead Secondary Adviser during the planning phase of the pilot year.

The Teacher Only Days supporting the implementation of the NCEA Change Programme will also support pilot schools through the development of readiness guides and tools for schools to use as they pilot and implement the new Achievement Standards. These will be part of an increasing set of resources that will support schools to implement the NCEA changes.

Alongside this, our Learning Area Leads will be providing learning area and subject-specific guidance, and specialist support to regions, subject associations, and middle and senior leaders. 

NZQA will provide:
  • Professional learning and support for delivering assessment using the new Achievement Standards and assessments. This will include:
    • Access to an online platform for support and collaboration with other pilot schools
    • Online meetings prior to each assessment, facilitated by NZQA
    • Access to timely support for assessment administration including support for digital assessment
    • Detailed verification reports following verification of internal assessments.
Commitment required by pilot schools and kura

Verification of grades for internal assessments

This is a requirement for the pilot year only. In order for the Ministry and NZQA to verify grades given on new standards, and to make any necessary revisions ahead of the 2023 implementation year, pilot schools are required to agree on common submission dates for internal assessment activities for each subject. The timing of these will be negotiated during the planning workshops in early November 2021. 

After grading internal assessments, schools will submit provisional grades as well as eight samples of student work to NZQA for verification. Schools must not advise students of grades until after NZQA completes verification. One outcome of verification is that NZQA may require that some student work be re-graded. Unlike moderation, re-grading during verification must be applied before final grades are provided to students. 

If a school is unable to complete an internal assessment and submit grades and samples within the agreed window, their verification will be delayed by up to a month. Grades cannot be given to students until after verification is completed.

Digital-first external assessment

Most of the new external assessments have been designed to be delivered using digital assessment platforms. Paper by exception is defined as making paper-based assessments available to students as one mitigation for an event that disrupts digital delivery at, or near, the time of the intended assessment. NZQA will support schools and kura to deliver digital assessment as much as possible.

The expectation is that schools and kura are equipped and prepared to engage digitally, so reverting to paper would be in situations like:

  • there is a technical problem on the day of the external assessment that means one or more devices are not working and the assessment can only be completed on paper, and
  • planning and preparation by the school in advance of the scheduled digital assessment reveals that it is not feasible to use digital devices for external assessments, e.g. insufficient BYOD or kura/school-provided devices; network assurance check by N4L reveals significant challenges with digital infrastructure that cannot be remedied quickly, etc.
  • teaching and learning practice is predominantly paper-based, and students are likely to be disadvantaged by undertaking assessment digitally.

Grade distribution expectations

The new Achievement Standards have different performance criteria to the ones they are replacing.  In developing these, Subject Expert Groups have also reviewed how the requirements for Achieved, Merit and Excellence grades are described. 

This process provides greater clarity on grade boundaries, so that kaiako/teachers are better supported to make these judgments. These boundaries will also be more consistent between standards within and across subjects (including between internally and externally assessed standards). This means that changes in the grade distribution are expected. 

The purpose of the pilots is to confirm whether the new standards effectively support teacher judgments and are set at the right level. The Ministry and NZQA will also continue to refine the tools and guidance available to develop kaiako/teacher confidence with the standards, and to ensure that verification processes are respectful and supportive. 

Providing feedback 

Pilot schools and kura play a key role in informing the refinement of new subject material. Pilot schools will need to complete evaluation reports and provide feedback on the new subject material at a minimum of 3 points during the pilot year.

Additionally, pilot schools will be drawn on to provide feedback on aspects of the wider NCEA Change Programme as an ‘Insight School/Kura’ by providing targeted rapid feedback on request (usually via online submission) from teachers, students/akonga, and whanau up to 3 times a year.

Pilot schools and kura commit to:

  • Attendance in-person at planning workshops in Wellington in early November and regular participation in online meetings
  • Develop teaching and learning programmes that use the new subject Learning Matrices, assess learning using all 4 new standards, and use the internal assessment activities provided
  • Supporting piloting teachers to actively engage in planning and resource preparation, including use of school release time to support planning when needed
  • Meeting agreed common internal assessment submission dates, as negotiated during planning workshops. 
  • Understand that re-grades made during verification of internals must be applied and student cannot be given their grades back until after verification is complete.
  • Deliver external assessment as digital-first with paper-based by exception
  • Adhere to the student number estimates indicated in the EOI application. E.g. If the application is to pilot 1 class, not to expand to a whole year group.
  • Support any changes to pilot teachers through a thorough handover, and by notifying the Ministry and NZQA of any changes to lead teachers.

We welcome questions clarifying any of the commitments described here to NCEA.Pilots@education.govt.nz