How to Read an Achievement Standard

NCEA is a complex assessment system to get to grips with, but being informed and knowledgeable about how it works is an integral part of achieving success. Previous blogposts have highlighted aspects of the system, and there have been further references to the NCEA apps and the useful NCEA website. Coming to terms with Achievement Standards* and using the information within them is an important step as well, which this blogpost will focus on. In our experience, it is not the students who have the greatest knowledge or skill level that necessarily achieve at the highest levels; the highest levels are attained by the students with the greatest understanding of what the assessment is looking for. Understanding Acheivement Standards is an integral part of this.

Behind every assessment is an Achievement Standard. From the NZQA website:

Each standard describes what a student needs to know, or what they must be able to achieve, in order to meet the standard. Having met it, they will gain credits towards national qualifications.

as90854-page-001An example of an Achievement Standard is here. Every Year 11 student used this standard when they did their reading logs in Year 10. I’ll try to point out some key aspects:

  • Title – Defines the learning outcomes (what the learner will be able to do, or explain, or demonstrate, or understand, etc).
  • Achievement Criteria – specifies in concise statements the performance criteria for each level (Achieved, Merit, Excellence).
  • Explanatory Notes (EN) – these are extremely useful for gaining additional understanding of the requirementas90854-page-002s. EN1 explains the links to the New Zealand Curriculum, and will probably be of little interest. However, EN2 onward outlines definitions of the assessment requirements and the assessment criteria.
  • Conditions of Assessment – the final link takes you to TKI, a companion website to NZQA where a host of further resources can be found. By looking through the conditions of assessment and other resources, more depth of understanding can be acquired on the requirements.

The Achievement Standard is just a starting point. Those resources on TKI and NZQA go much further in providing more information. The purpose here is to make clear that this information is public and available and should be used by students.

Achievement Standards can be found on the NZQA website for all subjects. Go to this page, click on one of your subjects, click on Level One standards at the top of the page.

*Note: this blogpost has continually referred to Achievement Standards, however, some Level One courses use Unit Standards. These are similar but not all the information here is relevant to them. 

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