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A number of NZCER staff contribute to our blogs and we link to and draw on external expertise. We hope it is a useful source of information, ideas and support about NZCER's research, tools and wider educational and assessment issues. We welcome your questions and comments.

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When I was a principal I confess we only ever assessed using the recommended test for each year group and we measured progress by the stanine. We had no idea the tests were designed to give teachers rich, descriptive information about the level of the curriculum each student is working in, and, what their next steps should be.

Date posted: 18 November 2014

I was working with a school recently and left them feeling good about using STAR because they had found out about a whole lot of new ways to use the data. As one teacher said, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’.  They suggested I get this information out there, so here goes.

Question #1: Did you know you can choose any test for any child?

Date posted: 6 November 2014

The PAT scale score is very useful when describing achievement and progress.

Read rest of post: More about scale scores
Date posted: 4 June 2014

You’ve tested with the PATs. You have the results.  Exactly how much progress have your students made over the year and is this average, below average or accelerated for their year group?

Some questions for you:

- how well have they done since the last assessment?

- is their progress average, below average, or accelerated?

Read rest of post: Real progress from the PATS
Date posted: 29 May 2014

Teachers making decisions about their students’ achievements based on a range of sources of evidence is the cornerstone of an effective cycle of inquiry in any school. The evidence-based cycle of inquiry is the engine that drives improvement to teaching and learning in classrooms and in school-wide initiatives (Timperley et al, 2010).  Research says this is how you make a difference.

Read rest of post: Trusting the evidence
Date posted: 5 March 2014

On TKI Assessment Online, under ‘New Zealand's Approach to National Standards’, one of the reasons outlined for the introduction of the National Standards is to "affirm your ( the teacher) role as the professional who knows the most about your students’ achievement rather than relying on national tests."

Read rest of post: Gathering the evidence
Date posted: 18 February 2014

Schools often ask  when they should use standardised  testing.  Twice a year?  Once a year ? There is no definitive answer, just a few questions, which, when answered by the school, will make choosing the time of year to assess more logical.

Read rest of post: Planning when to assess
Date posted: 10 December 2013

"The approaches we take to assessing learning, the kinds of tasks we assign and the way we report success or failure at school send powerful messages to students not only about their own learning but also about the nature of learning itself." This occasional paper by Australian Council for Educational

Read rest of post: Exploring assessment approaches
Date posted: 5 December 2013

Let’s start off with the million dollar question: Why is it important to assess punctuation and grammar in the classroom?

The teaching and assessing of literacy and numeracy skills has become an important focal points in learning but does that mean it is worth spending much time assessing the more finely-tuned details of semicolons, conjunctions and clauses?

Date posted: 3 October 2013

Teachers need resources that are designed to be a part of their normal classroom programme.

. ‘…much of what teachers and learners do in classrooms can be described as assessment. That is, tasks and questions prompt learners to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills…’  TKI: Assessment for Learning 10 principles 

Date posted: 25 September 2013