QA News

QA News Issue 87
- 31 Mar 2015

ISSN 1170-3318 (Online)

QA News provides information about NZQA activities. It is produced by NZQA four times per year.

In this edition:

Chief Executive’s News
New role for Richard Thornton
NCEA and Scholarship Results Release
Whānau Education Action Plans
Tertiary Assessment and Moderation Workshops
Top Art Launch
New members of Technical Overview Group Assessment
NZQA supports Sport in Education (SIE) Project
NZQA Resources Available
'Going Digital' - New NZQA Video Resource
NZQA's new NCEA Student App
New Search Function


Chief Executive's News


Welcome to our first edition of Q.A News for 2015. What a busy and productive first few months of the year we have had here at NZQA with NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship results release, the launch of our annual Top Art exhibition and of our second NZQA App.

One of the most exciting areas of our work here at NZQA is our ‘Future State’ programme.

‘Future State’ is about how we can deliver change that meets the needs of learners in the second decade of the 21st Century. In line with this, we have a new beacon ‘Qualify for the Future World.’

This beacon captures the essence of all our work – it’s why we exist. Whether that work is in senior secondary assessment or in quality assurance, our job is to be a robust, responsible organisation that helps all learners qualify for the future world.

At the same time as we launched our beacon we also refreshed our logo. You will start to see our updated logo appear over the next few months.

This updated logo, includes a map of New Zealand in a global context which helps reiterate that NZQA is a New Zealand organisation, representing New Zealand qualifications and study, in a global and digitally connected world.

A new focussed Digital Assessment Transformation Team has recently been established. This is led by Richard Thornton in his new role as the DCE responsible for Digital Transformation (Assessment).

This small team will be responsible for driving the transformation from paper based assessment and systems to digital assessment, and their work will have touch points across all of NZQA.

This reflects a further gearing up in terms of the pace of implementation of our digital assessment programme, which is a significant part of Future State.

Finally, 1 July 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of NZQA’s establishment… what a journey it has been!

Nga mihi,


New role for Richard Thornton 

Richard Thornton - DCE Assessment

Deputy Chief Executive, Richard Thornton has taken on a fresh challenge within NZQA.

Mr Thornton has been seconded into the role of Deputy Chief Executive Digital Transformation (Assessment).

With NZQA’s journey of digital transformation underway, the opportunity for Mr Thornton to focus specifically on digital transformation will mean that NZQA can work with the sector to facilitate the assessment changes necessary to parallel the development that is occurring with the use of digital technology in teaching and learning.

“This year we will really start to make more tangible progress in terms of digital assessment. For example this year we plan to offer some NCEA standards as optional online examinations – one of these will be a revamped eMCAT (electronic mathematics common assessment task) pilot that builds on the learnings from last year. 

“By 2018, we are aiming to have some digital examinations. These examinations will be used for several subjects that are best suited to transitioning to being digital.”

“Over the next 12 months I’ll be out and about, visiting schools talking about and getting feedback on how we can best work within the sector to better meet the needs of students and schools.”

As Mr Thornton focuses on digital transformation, Kristine Kilkelly has been appointed as Manager of NZQA’s Assessment Division.

“We’re thrilled Kristine has decided to join us. She brings a wealth of experience in the education sector, most recently as Deputy Secretary Corporate and Governance at the Ministry of Education,” he says.

Ms Kilkelly says she is looking forward to starting at NZQA on Tuesday 31 March.

“I wanted to stay within the education sector and this is a great opportunity to join NZQA as they work through the challenge of digital transformation. I enjoyed my time with the Ministry where I worked closely with NZQA over several years. NZQA has a strong reputation and I look forward to joining the team.” 

NCEA and Scholarship Results Release 

Asessment workshopsThe release of NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship results are highlights on the NZQA calendar.

This year, Deputy Chief Executive Richard Thornton is particularly pleased with how the result release days went.

A huge amount of preparation goes into ensuring that come mid-January more than 160,000 students are able to view their results online.

“Results release is something we plan well for, stage and carefully manage. It’s a very busy time for us with our call centre fielding thousands of phone calls.

“Within the first hour of NCEA results being released, at 7am on January 14, close to 17,000 students had logged in. Throughout the rest of the day between 300 and 500 students logged on each minute.

Mr Thornton says that although Scholarship results release is a much smaller scale, it’s equally significant.

“Examination booklets were returned to students in mid-February and students are able to request that their Records of Achievement to be mailed out to them. This can be done through the Learner Login section of the NZQA website.”

Marked NCEA examination papers were returned late January. After receiving marked papers, students were able to apply for reviews and reconsiderations of their NCEA results until Friday 20 February and Scholarship results until 6 March.

National statistics on NCEA achievement will be made available on the NZQA website as soon as they are finalised towards the end of this month.

Whānau Education Action Plans

NZQA and the Ministry of Education have been working together supporting iwi to undertake the development of Whānau Education Action Plans for whānau to support students on their NCEA journey. Deputy Chief Executive Māori, Daryn Bean, explains iwi have a natural interest in and commitment to the educational success of their children.

“Iwi also have a unique reach into whānau that is deeper and broader than government. As such, iwi have an important role in whānau engagement. 

“This project provides iwi with direct and practical support over a set timeframe to strengthen their ability to support their whānau to achieve educationally.”

Many iwi have workforces that work holistically to provide education, health and social services to whānau.

These workforces (both formal and informal) work with whānau every day.”

Mr  Bean says this project builds on the successful NCEA and the Whānau programme.

“Our key driver is to support young Māori students to make informed choices and plan to succeed in NCEA,” he says. 

The project involves three short workshops that train and equip iwi workforces with a set of tools to produce Whānau Education Action Plans. 

The WEAP plan provides iwi with the information, practices and resources they need to support whānau and champion their children’s engagement and achievement in education.

The roll out of the pilot programme began with the first of seven iwi on 14 August 2014. 

NCEA and the Whānau and Whānau Education Action Plans training hui have been facilitated with Ngati Kahungunu Inc, Rangitane o Wairarapa (Masterton), Ngāti Tamaoho (South Auckland) Ngāti Wai (Northland), Ngāi Takoto (Northland), Ngāti Pukenga (Tauranga), and Ngāi Te Rangi (Tauranga).

Tertiary Assessment and Moderation Workshops 

Asessment workshopsNZQA Tertiary Assessment and Moderation is offering Generic Workshops for education organisations between March and June 2015.

The purpose of these workshops is to improve understanding of the requirements for assessment and judgement of learner evidence. The workshops are for individuals directly involved with the assessment of learners against NZQA-managed standards.

An invitation for the Generic Workshops has been sent to organisations’ Moderation Liaison contact person. If your organisation has not received an invitation, or has any queries regarding the workshops, please contact

Workshops will be held as below subject to registration of 30 people for each workshop.

Top Art Launch 

Asessment workshopsA selection of some of the most exceptional artwork being produced in New Zealand schools is currently featuring in NZQA’s Top Art exhibition.

The exhibition was officially launched on 2 March at Massey University in Wellington by Massey’s Acting Head, School of Art, Emma Febvre-Richards.

The portfolios include students’ work from across the five streams of NCEA Level 3 Visual Arts; Design, Painting, Photography, Printmaking and Sculpture. All the folios achieved Excellence in 2014, with many also achieving Scholarship. Some Top Subject Scholarship winners are also represented.

NZQA’s Chief Executive Dr Karen Poutasi says the touring exhibition allows current students and teachers to see what ‘excellence’ looks like.

“The extremely high calibre of art our students are creating is something worth celebrating.

Level 3 Visual Art requires technical skill, creativity, and the ability to research and develop concepts to produce a systematic body of work. Each portfolio is crafted to tell a story through the students’ voice, showing idea generation, development and clarification.

Scholarship demands a high level of analysis and critical thinking and a precision, clarity and logic in the development of ideas.”

This year NZQA is excited to feature a digital folio submission for the first time.

“Until 2013, candidates were only able to submit their work as a three-panel portfolio board, despite many candidates having proficiency in digital aspects such as film or animation.

“This opportunity provides candidates working within a time element, such as film or moving image, an opportunity to show their skills. It is great preparation for young people moving into tertiary institutions where work is presented in a wider range of ways.”

The submission of digital portfolios is still very much in its infancy.

“We are looking forward to seeing where it takes schools and students. There were 40 portfolios were submitted digitally last year, and we think that number will rapidly increase.”

More information about the exhibition and further image can be seen on NZQA’s Top Art Facebook page.

New members of Technical Overview Group Assessment 

Four new members have been appointed to the Technical Overview Group Assessment (TOGA).

TOGA is a committee of scholars with strong knowledge of educational assessment and/or measurement, set up to monitor and make recommendations about the New Zealand Scholarship and NCEA examinations. It is chaired by Emeritus Professor Gary Hawke.

The new members are:

  • Professor Sharlene Forbes - Adjunct Professor of Official Statistics, School of Government, Victoria University and General Manager, Statistical Education and Research at Statistics New Zealand.
  • Doctor Earl Irving - Senior Research Fellow, Starpath Project
  • Professor Deborah Willis - Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor Humanities and Social Sciences and Pro Vice-Chancellor Education, Victoria University of Wellington,
  • Charles Darr - Charles is a Senior Researcher at the New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

Deputy Chief Executive, Richard Thornton, says he is delighted with the calibre of the new members.

“TOGA provides independent expert advice on the manner and detail of the assessment processes for New Zealand Scholarship and NCEA and advice on the overall design and configuration of assessment papers from a technical perspective. The group also recommends future developments in NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship.”

NZQA supports Sport in Education (SIE) Project 

Asessment workshopsThe Sport in Education project (SiE) is an approach to teaching, learning and assessment that uses sport and its values and concepts, as a vehicle to engage students, improve their learning outcomes across the curriculum, better connect them to their communities, and develop and reveal their leadership potential in and out of the sporting environment.

Central to the approach is joint planning by teachers of all the core curriculum subjects, particularly Mathematics & Statistics, English and Physical Education. 

The eight project schools involved in this initiative are receiving targeted support for the performance and engagement of students, and particularly at-risk learners. The cross-curricular teaching approach using sport as a context is embedded in all the project schools. Elements have been adopted by an additional 30 schools. 

Teachers had developed some of their own assessment resources but were looking for assistance with the challenge of assessing the units of work developed using the approach.

Sport New Zealand’s Project Leader Roger Wood says the organisation is delighted NZQA has led and developed such a significant body of work to help teachers assess learning that uses the Sport in Education approach.

“This is the ‘missing piece’ of the jigsaw puzzle that the SiE project leaders have been looking for – they have the teaching side of things sorted, and now have access to the associated assessment resources. This will make it easier for new teachers to adopt the approach and we anticipate there will be significant uptake as soon as they are made available.”

Mr Wood says that the interest in NZQA’s resources has also extended to Australia.

“Our leaders presented to the Australian Council for Health, PE and Recreation conference in December last year and there was demand from teachers there for the same set of assessment resources,” he says.

Deputy Chief Executive Richard Thornton says that this project offered another opportunity for National Assessment Moderators to practice and test the skills and strategies taught at some of their Best Practice Workshops to re-contextualise existing resources whilst supporting this worthwhile project.

Twenty-seven resources have been developed and quality-assured, covering a wide range of subjects: Accounting, Business Studies, Digital Technologies, Economics, English, Geography, Health, History, Home Economics, Mathematics & Statistics, Technology, Physical Education, Dance, Biology and Science.

The assessment resources are for Level 1 and 2 internally assessed achievement standards and will be added to the suite of assessment resources already available for assessors on the Ministry of Education’s NCEA on TKI website.

More information on the Sport in Education project is available on Sport NZ’s website.

NZQA Resources Available 

A range of NZQA publications are available both online and on the NZQA website.

The Understanding NCEA brochure is designed for use by students at all year levels, parents, whānau, caregivers and anyone who needs to know about NCEA. It is designed to be a guide to understanding how NCEA works and where to go to get the best information and advice about education and career planning.

Translations are available in Te Reo, Samoan, Cook Islands Maori, Niuean and Tongan.

PDF copies of the brochures are available on the NZQA website and printed booklets can be ordered by completing the online order form. Alternatively, orders can be made by emailing

NZQA also has a free App, called ‘NCEA Guide’ for parents, whānau and employers. This provides quick and easy access to key information about NCEA and is available on both the Google play and iTunes stores.

'Going Digital’ – New NZQA Video Resource 

Asessment workshopsOver the past year NZQA has been focused on investigating the best way that we can implement digital assessment in the work that we do.

Our journey is well underway and we know that the changes we are making to the way in which assessments take place are a reflection of the increasingly digital world in which today’s students are living, and learning.

Deputy Chief Executive, Richard Thornton, says that as technology rapidly evolves, NZQA is needing to be adaptable and ready to respond to the challenge.

Recently NZQA began work on a series of videos about ‘going digital’. These videos will encourage discussion about the way in which technology is changing teaching and learning, and also tell NZQA’s story about the increasing use of technology in assessment.

The first three videos showcase three schools; Tamaki College, Orewa College and Hornby High School. These schools are examples of early adopters of technology in teaching, learning and assessment.

Each school tells their story about the challenges and successes they have experienced as technology became an integral part of life inside and outside of the classroom.

“We talked to several school leaders and teachers who have made significant progress in using technology as the catalyst for transforming teaching and learning. We also heard from students about their experience of using technology in their learning and assessment journey,” Mr Thornton says.

A fourth video, telling NZQA’s story of increasingly digitized processes and the move towards online examinations is also in production.  By 2020 NZQA envisages offering a wide range of digital assessment, with the ultimate aim of assessment being online, anywhere, anytime. Mr Thornton says that online assessments will start small and be optional.

“We’re very pleased to share our journey and the sector stories, because of the potential opportunity that digital assessment provides.

The videos will be available to view on the NZQA website by late April 2015.

NZQA’s new NCEA Student App 

Asessment workshopsNZQA is set to launch a new free App to help students set their study goals and track their NCEA credit progress.

Deputy Chief Executive Richard Thornton says that using NZQA’s NCEA Student App ensures students receive credible, up-to-date, authenticated information on standards and NCEA qualifications. Students were involved in the design of the App and chose the functions that were of most value to them.

The App functionality allows students to:

  • Select and set their NCEA credit goals and targets
  • See how they are tracking towards NCEA Levels one, two and three, including Literacy, Numeracy and University Entrance (UE)
  • Set reminders for each standard such as when assignments are due
  • Capture results as they are achieved and cross check with the school or NZQA
  • Personalise with information such as NSN number or details about a course or standard (such as the teacher’s name or timetabled classroom)
  • Customise with different colour coding options and the ability to add photos
  • Use in English and Te Reo Māori.

NCEA is a flexible qualification and this App will help make it easier for students to see which standards are available for each course of study. 

“Students live in a digital world. We want to ensure we are engaging with young people on their terms, in a way that is relevant and meaningful for them.

“The education sector and NZQA are committed to helping students, parents, schools and whānau track learning progress and encourage excellence. This App supports that commitment,” Mr Thornton says.

The App, which can be downloaded the iTunes and Google Play stores, allows students to securely enter their results and track their progress towards NCEA Levels 1 to 3 and UE on mobile devices, anytime, anywhere.

“Students are also able to receive notifications and encouraging advice, and set learning goals and monitor their progress towards achieving them.

“This initiative follows the success of NZQA’s NCEA Guide App – a free resource for parents and employers with easily accessible information about how NCEA works and how to support students with their studies.” 

Mr Thornton adds that the NZQA’s new NCEA Student App is part of NZQA’s Future State programme work, which is focused on ensuring student learning needs are being met in in an increasingly digital environment.

NZQA acknowledges other NCEA Apps are available and encourages students with digital devices to find the App that suits them.

New Search Function 

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has made it quicker and easier to access information about tertiary education organisation categories on its website.

While there has always been the ability to find education organisations on the site by region and type, users can now also choose to filter organisations by their NZQA assigned provider category.

Provider categories are either Category 1, 2, 3 or 4 and are reflective of the findings of the institutions most recent External Evaluation and Review.

The enhancement to the website search function is in response to feedback from the education sector and improves access to information for international students and their agents looking to enrol in courses in New Zealand, as well as students, parents and the public wanting to know more about NZQA-registered tertiary providers.

The search function is available here and includes descriptions of each of the four provider categories.

Category 1: Highly Confident in educational performance and Highly Confident or Confident in Self-assessment

Category 2: Confident in educational performance and Confident or Highly Confident in self-assessment

Category 3: Not yet Confident in either educational performance or self-assessment

Category 4: Not Confident in either educational performance or self-assessment.


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