Innovation at NZQA

Moving towards 2020: Future State Programme update, December 2015

Digital transformation

FS Dec update

Digital assessment has been a key focus for NZQA this year, with a number of pilots undertaken, including a trial of a computer-based maths assessment in which approximately 11,000 students participated.

This was the second computer-based pilot of the electronic Mathematics Common Assessment Task (eMCAT), but the first on such a scale –146 schools took part, and a good range of school types and deciles were involved. It was also the first time the results of an online assessment could count towards Level 1 NCEA. The final report for the eMCAT, and also for 2015 Online Practice Examinations (OPE) for French and Science, will be published on the NZQA website at the end of January. Links to the report will be sent to all key stakeholders.

As part of ensuring all student needs are catered for, each year a number of students with learning, medical, or physical challenges are able to sit their examinations using Special Assessment Conditions. This year, a pilot was held with candidates who opted to sit computer-based exams in which exam questions, resource booklets and answers were viewed and completed on computer. Candidates also had access to a text-to-speech software programme which read questions aloud, and also read students’ answers back to them. NZQA are now exploring options on the use of accessibility tools in digital assessment for candidates with special assessment conditions.

NZQA will use the learnings from these to shape further pilots - we will be in touch with schools early next year with details on how to participate in 2016 pilots and trials for external assessment.

Supporting teachers and education providers

A “Submitted Subjects” pilot has commenced which enables material to be submitted online, to a google drive, for marking.

NZQA is also looking at developing a new online tool for external moderation – we will consult on this in the first half of next year. Note that schools can already submit materials for moderation online – see

Work is also being progressed to extend the Transforming Assessment Practice online programme pilot into 2016 to support teachers to contextualise and share best practice.

For providers, work has been undertaken this year to put more efficient and integrated systems in place for the management of learner data, which will continue into 2016, including enabling access by external users.

International work

Significant progress has been made in our international qualification framework recognition work in 2015. Recognition arrangements have been signed, or are about to be signed, with United Arab Emirates, Australia, Malaysia and Europe. Projects with Korea, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong are underway, while additional countries are being identified to work with in 2016. NZQA aims to have two qualification recognition arrangements with 50 countries by 2020.

We have also started to build the foundations of a universal record of achievement to support student mobility through ensuring all learning is captured on an expanded record of achievement. In 2016, work will progress on adding NZ qualifications (levels 1 to 10) to this record.

Work on the commercialisation of NZQA's knowledge offshore was carried out in 2015 using Education NZ funding and in partnership with NZ Trade and Enterprise’s government to government office. We delivered training to Afghan government officials on qualification recognition arrangements, Thai officials on quality assurance arrangements, and worked with United Arab Emirate officials on comparing our two qualifications frameworks.

Engaging with our stakeholders

Between May and November of this year, NZQA undertook a series of school visits to start a discussion about the way technology is changing teaching and learning, and to tell our story about the increasing use of technology in assessment. You can access a copy of the presentation given during these visits online.

In October we hosted Don Tapscott, one of the world's leading authorities on innovation, media, and the economic and social impact of technology. As part of this visit, NZQA and the Ministry of Education held a Digital transformation and education symposium - see below for more information.

We are in the process of making some improvements to some areas of our website to make it easier for our clients to find and understand key information. These changes will be implemented in February 2016. We are also making some short-term improvements while we do the ground work towards a full web redesign.

Mobile phone apps

In April NZQA introduced the NCEA Student App to help students set their NCEA study goals and to record their results. The App, which is primarily a planning tool, has been downloaded in excess of 34,000 times. It has a standalone database that includes all NCEA standards at all levels. It also has a powerful search engine to help find and select standards to plan ahead for NCEA. We are now looking at making improvements to the App based on student feedback.

An NCEA Guide App is also available to help parents and students understand NCEA. This App is provided in Te Reo and four Pasifika languages: Cook Island Maori, Niuean, Samoan and Tongan.

More information

For more information email

Going Digital

Today's primary school children are growing up in a world where technology is second nature, changing the face of learning, teaching and assessment.  Watch an overview of NZQA's digital transformation story and the work that is being undertaken to meet the changing needs of students.

going digital
Going Digital (watch video in a new tab or window)

Digital transformation and education symposium

In October, NZQA and the Ministry of Education organised a Digital Transformation and Education Symposium for the wider education sector. The keynote speaker at the symposium was Dr Don Tapscott, a globally-recognised authority on innovation and the social impact of technology. The following video shows some of the highlights from the symposium.


The following video was taken during the symposium of Year 12 Orewa College student, Jennifer Palmer. Jennifer shares her thoughts on the evolution of how her generation of students are learning, and how assessment must also evolve with them.


Schools that have "gone digital"

NZQA has produced ‘Going Digital’, a series of videos showcasing three schools that are early adopters of technology in their teaching, learning and assessment. These videos include interviews with school leaders, teachers and students about the challenges and opportunities they experienced as technology became a fundamental part of school life. The videos are available for viewing:




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