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Working for positive outcomes? The standards–curriculum alignment for Learning Languages, and its reception by teachers

Martin East

Since 2007, substantial restructuring of New Zealand’s national school curriculum has occurred. This change has been paralleled by extensive revisions to New Zealand’s high-stakes assessment system, the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), which makes the New Zealand context an important one for investigating how teachers come to terms with mandated assessment innovation. The New Zealand curriculum learning area Learning Languages, dedicated to the study of languages additional to the language of instruction, provides a useful example. The standards–curriculum alignment has led to the introduction of a fundamentally new assessment of students’ spoken proficiency in languages additional to the language of instruction, which moves the measurement away from a summative test model and towards the collection of ongoing evidence of authentic and unrehearsed spoken interactions. In practice, the innovation has been challenging for teachers and students. This article outlines a study into teacher perspectives on the reform and presents some initial findings from data elicited from a national survey, drawing some preliminary conclusions about what teachers are making of the new assessment.

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