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Could the design of assessment standards be adapted to better reflect curriculum intentions?

Rosemary Hipkins and Charles Darr

A standards-based assessment system provides opportunities to join curriculum intentions to demonstrations of complex learning. In this article we use New Zealand’s senior secondary qualifications system—the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA)—to illustrate how adaptations of existing structures might help to better reflect future-focused curriculum intentions in high-stakes, summative assessments. We frame an analysis of the structure of the achievement standards that specify the focus of assessments within NCEA. Using one of the new standards as an example, we show how several comparatively minor structural changes have the potential to provide more explicit links to The New Zealand Curriculum. We further argue that these changes would provide a more robust foundation for teachers’ assessment decision making.

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