QA News

QA News Issue 88
- 29 Jun 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
'Going Digital' school visits
Future State: digital assessments
New report comparing senior secondary school qualifications in Korea and New Zealand
Staff profile: Belinda Himiona
Changes to English language requirements
Annual Report on Data and Statistics 2014
NZQA continues to work with agencies in Samoa and Tonga
NZQA's new Chief Advisor Pasifika
Top Scholar Awards ceremony
Top Art reminder
Independent review of the 2007 NCEA enhancements
Indonesian visit

Chief Executive's news

Here at NZQA we always look forward to our annual Top Scholar Ceremony, and this year was no exception.

Having the opportunity to meet New Zealand’s top New Zealand Scholarship students and celebrate their success reminds us all why we do what we do.

This year’s event was once again held in Parliament’s Grand Hall and awards were presented by NZQA Board member Murray Strong, Minister of Education, Hon Hekia Parata and Prime Minister John Key.

I would like to acknowledge this year’s winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence Joshua Hansen. Joshua is a former Westlake Boys’ High School pupil currently studying at Victoria University in Wellington. He received seven New Zealand Scholarships including five Outstanding Scholarships and a Top Subject award.

Speaking of excellence, don’t forget our Top Art exhibition tour. If you can’t make it to one of the tour locations, make sure you view the online exhibition on our Top Art Facebook page.

You may be interested to know that July 1 is the 25th anniversary of NZQA. The establishment of NZQA represented the first unified approach to the recognition of qualifications. With the birth of NZQA came the establishment of a qualifications framework. The Education Amendment Act 1990 required NZQA to establish a framework in which all qualifications from senior school through to degree level had a purpose and relationship to each other that students and the public could understand.

This framework is now called the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

As you can see, even 25 years ago we were thinking of the ‘Future State’! Here’s to the next 25 years of helping students qualify for the future world.

Ngā Mihi


'Going Digital' school visits


NZQA is currently running a series of school visits, inviting discussion on digital transformation in the education sector.

The presentations are being delivered by Deputy Chief Executive Digital Transformation, Richard Thornton, who has been on the road three days each week since the beginning of Term 2.

 “The digital transformation is having a significant impact on teaching and learning and NZQA needs to make sure that assessment is fit for purpose. We are taking small, well-planned steps towards our ultimate goal of assessment being online, anywhere, anytime.”

“Digital assessment will be hugely beneficial to students as it can occur closer to the time of their learning, rather than at set points during the year, and it will be in a medium students are used to working in.”

Mr Thornton describes the school visits as having been a good opportunity to talk through the key issues schools face with digital transformation, to outline the way forward and to receive feedback that will help inform NZQA’s next steps.

“Some of the common themes coming through include school, staff and student readiness, technical capability and the cost of infrastructure.

“I’m really encouraged because over the past two years I can see how much things have moved. Two years ago when I talked about digital technology it was sometimes seen as a threat, but now it is seen as a positive opportunity that will empower and enable change.”

The presentations feature clips from NZQA’s ‘Going Digital’ video series which showcase three schools that are leaders in the use of technology in their teaching, learning and assessment.

The full videos can be viewed on NZQA’s website and YouTube channel.

Future State: digital assessments

As part of NZQA’s journey of digital transformation, a number of digital assessments are being trialled this year.

NQZA is offering online computer-based (digital) assessment for Special Assessment Condition candidates who have entitlement to use both a reader and computer. Schools are invited to register their initial interest by 3 July.

2906 1
Earlier in June, NZQA invited schools to register their interest for the 2015 Online Practice Examinations, which are being provided for two standards - French Level 1 (90878) and Science Level 1 (90940). These will be practice examinations that schools will be able to use in a variety of ways and NZQA will gain valuable knowledge about online examinations from the trial. Note that students will not be awarded credits for participating in the online practice examinations, however their evidence will contribute to the award of a derived grade (if required).

NZQA is also piloting a revamped eMCAT electronic mathematics common assessment task (eMCAT) pilot. While this will be the second computer-based pilot, it will be the first of such a scale. Additionally, this will be the first time the results will count towards NCEA Level 1. Approximately 13000 NCEA students from 146 schools across the country have registered to take part in the eMCAT, which will take place in early September. The eMCAT is based on a paper-based assessment that most level 1 maths students sit in mid-September every year. 

“All of the practice assessments and pilots help us make real progress towards developing digital assessment for all relevant subjects,” said NZQA Deputy Chief Executive Assessment, Richard Thornton. “This will give NZQA a much better understanding of how best to run computer-based assessments. It will also give students the opportunity to experience assessments in a digital environment, and enable schools to assess their own systems, as we all learn together.”

For more information see the NZQA website.

New report comparing senior secondary school qualifications in Korea and New Zealand

NZQA and the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation have completed a joint research report to compare the senior secondary school qualifications between the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.1NZQAReport cover

The report is a significant step towards understanding the similarities and differences between the two education systems and senior secondary school curricula.

NZQA’s Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Grant Klinkum is in Seoul this week, co-presenting the results of the joint research report to the Korean Ministry of Education.

Approximately 8000 Korean students studied in New Zealand last year, mainly at secondary schools and private training establishments. The difference in education systems and curricula is important to understand in order to pave the way for further exchanges and sharing of information to support the recognition of qualifications between the two countries.

The curriculum-to-curriculum comparison looks at mathematics and science subjects.

Mathematics and science were selected for the comparison because of the universal approach to these disciplines and the limited likelihood of country specific content. The report addresses the different education systems and approach to curricula, and then looks at common concepts and differences within the agreed subject parameters to determine the overall comparability.

One of the main challenges of this project was that the Korean National Curriculum provides highly standardised content with textbooks and teachers’ manuals provided within the framework. In New Zealand, the curriculum is very flexible and provides a framework rather than a detailed plan, Dr Klinkum says.

The report will be available to view on the NZQA website from late July.

Staff profile: Belinda Himiona

BelindaThe transformative power of education has always motivated NZQA’s new Manager of Quality Assurance Strategy, Belinda Himiona.

Belinda joins NZQA from the Ministry of Social Development, where she was the Youth Policy Team Manager. This work focused on working to improve outcomes for young people including in the areas of citizenship, teen parents, health, youth justice and services in schools.

Prior to working at the Ministry of Social Development, Belinda worked in the justice sector, managing the Justice Strategic Policy Team at the Ministry of Justice and at Police as the manager of the Social Policy Team. Here she oversaw policy work for the Justice Sustainability Project and managed implementation of s59 of the Crimes Act Amendment. She also worked on policy to introduce a family violence risk assessment nationally for police officers and developed policy to reduce Maori victimisation and offending.

“I started my career as a graduate policy analyst at the Ministry of Education, focused on at risk students’ policy so I’m really pleased to have returned to the education sector.

“Throughout my career education has been a core theme, in particular policy for ‘at risk’ young people and Māori. Working with young people and in the justice sector you realise what a strong protective factor education is. 

“I attended a decile 1 secondary school and although I always wanted to go to University at school I observed lots of talented, but disengaged, kids who didn’t progress with their education.  I learnt how much education changes lives.”

As Manager of Quality Assurance Strategy, Belinda will work to identify and respond to opportunities and risks to quality assurance.

“We have to be more global, more nimble. For example we are strengthening the recognition of prior learning to make it easier to have skills and learning not taught in an institution credentialed.

“I believe we can be more user-friendly, easier for everyday people to engage with. I would like to bring a stronger youth and learner perspective to my team's work and also ensure we are making changes that will improve outcomes for Māori learners.”

She says leading her team will involve being visionary and getting in the trenches and rolling up my sleeves to lead the work in QAS.

In her downtime, Belinda spends time with her husband and eleven-year old son (and is an avid supporter of the Ories under 11s rugby team) and is studying towards an Executive Masters in Public Administration. 

Changes to English language requirements

NZQA has strengthened the English language testing rules used by education providers when enrolling international students.

The change ensures New Zealand’s strong reputation for offering consistently high standard education through quality education providers is maintained and New Zealand continues to be regarded as a world class education destination for international students.

The changes to Rule 18 of the NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules 2013 mean that providers can now use their own English proficiency assessments only for students from countries with an annual New Zealand student visa approval rate of at least 80%.

Similarly, education providers can use prior study at schools where English is the medium of instruction as evidence of English language proficiency only for students from countries with an annual New Zealand student visa approval rate of at least 80%.

Education providers can still enrol student from countries that have a student visa approval rate of less than 80%. Providers now however, need to use one of the other methods for assessing English proficiency that are listed in the Rules, such as internationally recognised English language tests

The changes have been made to address the potential issue with English language testing highlighted by the increasing proportion of student visa applications being declined. Immigration New Zealand data shows that visa applications are more likely to have been declined when education providers do not use an internationally recognised test of English language proficiency.

NZQA says the strengthening of these rules will not restrict student access to studying in New Zealand – it will ensure all English language testing is done in the best way and is consistent and robust.

Detailed information about the changes and the public consultation process is available on the NZQA website.

Annual Report on Data and Statistics 2014

NZQA’s Annual Report on NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship Data and Statistics 2014 is now available on the NZQA website.

It is an analysis of NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship results and comparisons with those of prior years.

The report includes:

  • NCEA Retentions 2010 – 2014
  • achievement in NCEA and University Entrance, broken down by gender, ethnicity and school decile
  • Certificate Endorsement and Course Endorsement
  • NCEA Literacy and Numeracy achievement by gender, ethnicity and decile band
  • the 2014 New Zealand Scholarship awards
  • NCEA administrative processes such as investigations into breaches of examination rules.

The report shows students’ achievement of NCEA continues to increase at all Levels (1, 2 and 3), for both genders, all ethnicities and for each decile band.

NZQA continues to work with agencies in Samoa and Tonga

NZQA’s is committed to partnering with Samoa and Tonga in order to help strengthen their qualification authorities.

Since 2012, NZQA has worked with both the Samoan Qualifications Authority, and the Tongan National Qualifications and Accreditation Board to help both organisations upskill by providing technical assistance, training and support to staff. This is a five year programme under the Partnerships Fund scheme administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade which finishes in December 2016.

The programme supports SQA and TNQAB to develop robust qualification frameworks and quality assurance processes, based on international good practice, that are relevant to the educational, social and economic needs of these countries.  This programme is delivered via outbound visits where NZQA staff travel to Samoa and Tonga to deliver on-job training and advice, and also visits by staff from the two agencies to job-shadow NZQA staff and gain exposure to NZQA systems and processes.

DCE Strategic and Corporate, Dr Grant Klinkum says the training has now moved towards providing more direct assistance rather than delivering straight training.

“Since the partnership began we have focused on providing training in the quality assurance areas like provider registration and approvals and accreditation, and quality audits reviews. We have also provided training in standards and qualification development and qualification recognition services.

 “Now there are more personalised activities and the assistance is more centred on support staff in operational procedures and activities rather than the processes guidelines.”

NZQA has delivered 21 separate training programmes to Tonga and 23 to Samoa.

The project has proved valuable for both SQA and TNQAB and NZQA staff who provide support are starting to see a difference in the organisations capability. It has also given NZQA a better understanding of the environment in which these agencies work, and the challenges faced by the local education sectors.

Most recently NZQA staff visited Samoa in April and in May NZQA visited Tonga.

This is also part of the work NZQA’s new Chief Advisor Pasifika Lili Tuioti will be doing in overseeing NZQA’s relationship with Samoa and Tonga.

NZQA’s new Chief Advisor Pasifika

Chief Advisor PasifikaNZQA recently welcomed Lili Tuioti to
the team. Lili recently returned to New Zealand after having spent ten years living
in Apia, Samoa where she worked as the education advisor and strategic planner for the Tokelau government.

Born in Samoa, Lili’s family came to New Zealand when she was a child as her
parents wanted their children to have more educational opportunities. Lili gained her undergraduate degree at the University of Auckland and went on to train as a secondary school teacher. 

She was principal at Western Springs College, Auckland, from 1993 – 1997 and
was the first Pacific secondary school principal in New Zealand.

Lili’s sees her new role as an opportunity to make a positive difference for Pasifika students.

“I’d like to build awareness, not so much that education will make a positive difference, as people already know that, but an awareness that achievement is possible.

“There are issues that can be common to Pasifika families such as a lack of resources and many families where adults are in casual work. NZQA’s role is to make sure qualifications and pathways are well-known.

“We want our young people to be able to have a foot in both cultures and take the best from each. To show them how having formal qualifications means having more opportunities,” she says.

Lili will also be involved in NZQA’s work with the Samoa Qualifications Authority and has already had the opportunity to visit Samoa as part of NZQA’s work in the Partnership Fund project with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“This partnership is about strengthening SQA so it has robust systems and policy in order to raise their performance and service provision.”

Lili has four adult children and three grandchildren. She is currently studying towards an MBA.

Top Scholar Awards ceremony

The achievements of 2014’s top secondary school students was celebrated at NZQA’s annual Top Scholar Awards ceremony held at Parliament on 6 May 2015.

Top Subject Scholar Awards were presented to 33 students, recognising the highest achieving student in each New Zealand Scholarship subject. Ten Premier Awards were also presented.

Premier Awards carry a monetary award of $10,000 each year for up to three years of tertiary study. Outstanding Scholars each receive $5,000 per year for up to three years and Top Subject Scholars each receive $2,000 per year for up to three years. Awardees are required to maintain at least a B grade average during the years they receive the monetary grant.

This year the supreme award, the Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence, went to former Westlake Boys’ High School student, Joshua Hansen.

Top Scholar with Minister and PM

Joshua was the recipient of a Victoria University Excellence Scholarship and was awarded Proxime Accessit of Westlake Boys’. At school he was a House Leader and member of the Sports Council. He also represented his school on the New Zealand Young Ambassadors tour to France and Belgium to commemorate the beginning of World War 1.

Joshua, who is presently studying towards a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts in French and History, received seven New Zealand Scholarships, including five Outstanding Scholarships and a Top Subject award.

Deputy Chief Executive, Richard Thornton, says New Zealand Scholarship examinations assess students against challenging standards.

“For NZQA, Top Scholar is a wonderful event as it is a chance to recognise these talented, high achieving young people and acknowledge their families and schools.

“I wish all of these young people the best in their future endeavours. They have already shown remarkable ability and dedication and I am sure they will succeed in their chosen fields.”

For more information about the awards and a full list of award winners see: Top Scholar Awards Ceremony

Top Art reminder

Top Art LaunchCelebrating excellence is one of the most rewarding parts of NZQA’s role. One way in which the organisation does this is through an annual Top Art Exhibition. This exhibition showcases the best NCEA Level 3 Visual Arts portfolios from the previous year.

The exhibition is open to the public and is an opportunity for everyone to see the high standard of artwork coming out of New Zealand schools and also for current Level 3 Visual Arts students to see what a portfolio that achieved ‘Excellence’ looks like.Top Art K.P and S.S

The exhibition is well underway and the schedule can be found here. Photos of the featured artwork can also be viewed on NZQA’s Top Art Facebook page.

Independent review of the 2007 NCEA enhancements

There is a high level of confidence in NCEA as a robust and credible qualification, according to a new independent review of the 2007 enhancements.

The review was conducted by a panel of respected academics and practitioners.

The enhancements made in 2007 were initiated to ensure the qualification remains relevant and meaningful for students. The enhancements were aimed at increasing student motivation, moderation of internal assessment, the consistency of results, and transparency.

The report found that these enhancements were supported in principle and in the way they were implemented by NZQA.

Recommendations included:

  • lifting the general understanding and awareness of NCEA;
  • strengthening professional support for the sector;
  • improving NZQA's scheduling/planning of changes;
  • refining the endorsement process;
  • the respective work programmes of education agencies being better coordinated;
  • the NZQA Future State work move at a pace that meets expectations and assures sound and safe implementation;
  • and Special Assessment Conditions processes ensure equity.

Most of the panel’s recommendations are already in hand and NZQA and the Ministry of Education are committed to working together to further refine the enhancements.

NZQA plans to involve students, whānau, parents, employers, teachers, principals and tertiary education providers in any upcoming developments.

Indonesian visit

Three officials from the Directorate General of Learning and Student Affairs, Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, Indonesia visited NZQA for a technical exchange from 15-18 June 2015.

The purpose of the technical exchange was to increase the capability of Indonesia in developing its national qualifications framework by sharing information on best practice models in the development and implementation of qualifications frameworks and quality assurance processes.

New Zealand has been partnered with Indonesia under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area Economic Cooperation Work Programme to deliver the technical exchange as part of Phase III of the Capacity Building for National Qualifications Framework project.

The technical exchange also included meetings with Careerforce, the Pacific Training Institute, the Ministry of Education, the Industry Training Federation, Universities

New Zealand and Victoria University of Wellington.

The ECWP programme will include technical exchanges in Indonesia in August and New Zealand in November 2015.

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