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Working for positive washback: The potential and challenge of the standards–curriculum alignment project for Learning Languages

Martin East and Adèle Scott

The introduction of a revised national curriculum for New Zealand has precipitated a subject-wide project to align requirements for high-stakes secondary school assessments (the National Certificate of Educational Achievement [NCEA] achievement standards) with curriculum aims and intentions. This article considers the process of revising NCEA standards and the potential for positive washback into classrooms in terms of enhancing pedagogical “good practice”. With a particular focus on the new learning area of Learning Languages, this article explores the revision from the perspective of two people who were centrally involved in the standards-writing process from beginning to end. Taking this perspective provides a unique and important opportunity to explore the NCEA alignment process for a new learning area from the inside and to describe, from this vantage point, the deliberations and considerations that went into the revised standards that are now being made available for consultation.

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