QA News

QA News Issue 97
- 1 Sep 2017

ISSN 1170-3318 (Online)


QA News Header 2017 white

QA News is a quarterly publication that brings together the activities from across NZQA.


Chief Executive's News

Karen Poutasi 1

NZQA’s vision is ‘Qualify for the future world: Kia noho takatū ki tō āmua ao’, and this edition of QA News exemplifies work in this space.

A series of Digital Trial and Pilot examinations this year will allow NZQA to test and improve technology-based methods of assessment. These will build upon the learnings of previous Trials and Pilots, as NZQA works towards its goal of having all examinations available online, where appropriate, by 2020.

Māori-medium students can now achieve University Entrance through Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMoA), the Māori-medium curriculum. Level 3 subjects and standards from TMoA have been aligned with the University Entrance approved subjects list. University Entrance requirements have also been reviewed through an external advisory group. Read below for more on the TMoA alignment and the University Entrance requirements review.

A number of the NZQA Rules have been updated following consultation with the non-university tertiary education sector. This includes Rule 18, English language entry criteria for international students.

New Zealand's first micro-credential pilots were recently launched. The pilots will enable us to understand the role micro-credentials could play in New Zealand’s education, training and qualification system of the future.

There have been many other exciting events and updates happening recently, so please read on and see what you think.

Ngā mihi

Dr Karen Poutasi

Digital examinations


Our young people are living and learning in a global, digitally connected world. NZQA wants to ensure we support our young people to have the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. Our vision is for learners to ‘Qualify for the future world: Kia noho takatū ki tō āmua ao’.

Today’s students are very comfortable using technology – most school students have never known a world other than the digital one. Many schools are already using digital technology in nearly every aspect of their teaching and learning. If students are living and learning in a world where technology is always at their fingertips it makes sense that today’s (and tomorrow’s) students should also be assessed using technology they are familiar with.

NZQA is investigating technology-based methods of assessment by offering a series of voluntary Digital Trial and Pilot examinations to schools in 2017. These will build upon the learnings of previous Trials and Pilots, as NZQA works towards its goal of having all examinations available online, where appropriate, by 2020.

The Trials and Pilots enable schools to evaluate their readiness for digital assessment across multiple students, devices, and subject areas. They also provide students with an opportunity to experience examinations in a digital format.

The Trials will take place across 15 NCEA Level 1 subjects during September and October. There are over 11,000 entries across 113 schools confirmed as participating across the subjects of Art History, Business Studies, Classical Studies, Economics, English, French, Geography, Health, History, Media Studies, Physics, Samoan, Science, Spanish and Te Reo Rangatira. Trials do not count towards NCEA, but may be used as a practice assessment in schools. The setup, supervision and marking of the Digital Trials is carried out by schools.

The Pilots will be offered to schools across three NCEA Level 1 subjects - Classical Studies, English and Media Studies. Schools involved in the 2016 Pilots have the opportunity to offer students Level 2 Pilots in these subjects. Students who opt-in will sit a digital examination rather than the paper examination (the paper examination will be available as a back-up). The Digital Pilots will run at the same time as the equivalent NCEA paper examination. There are over 7,000 entries across 40 schools for the Digital Pilots this year.

The Digital Trials and Pilots can be completed on either school devices or a student’s own device.  Schools will work with students to ensure their device is compatible with the digital examinations.

Deputy Chief Executive, Digital Assessment Transformation, Andrea Gray, says that digital assessment has been co-created with the sector and that the opt-in Trial, Pilot and review model is working well.

‘Schools are able to participate at a pace they are comfortable with and assess their capacity for digital assessment and its relevance, subject by subject, to the way they are delivering their teaching and learning.’

Feedback from teachers and students involved in the Trials and Pilots is a crucial part of this model. Ms Gray says, ‘post-examination surveys will further NZQA’s knowledge of where schools are at, along with what’s working well and what can be improved’.

For more information on the 2017 Digital Trials and Pilots please visit

Review of University Entrance requirements

NZQA has completed a periodic review of the University Entrance requirements 2016–2017, which concluded that the current University Entrance requirements remain fit-for-purpose and should not be changed at this time.

Last year NZQA established an external advisory group to provide advice to NZQA through the review. In March we released a discussion paper seeking stakeholders’ views on the initial conclusions of the review. More than 150 responses were received, including 128 individual submissions and 24 organisational submissions.

Deputy Chief Executive Assessment, Kristine Kilkelly, says the review found that the current requirements are fit-for-purpose and relevant. ‘They provide useful indicators that a student has a reasonable chance of success at degree-level study.

‘There were, however, two areas in which the review indicated that improvements could be considered – a process for the regular review and maintenance of the approved subjects list, and a review of the list of standards that can be used to meet the literacy requirement.

‘NZQA has begun work on these and will consult the sector before making any changes.’

A summary of the feedback to the University Entrance Review Discussion Document is available on our website, here.

UE recognises learning in TMoA subjects

Students on the Māori-medium pathway can now achieve University Entrance through the inclusion of subjects and standards from the Māori-medium curriculum, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, in the approved subjects list.

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa is the foundation curriculum document for Māori-medium education. It outlines the core learning and competencies of Māori-medium students, including the skills and knowledge required to enter university and follow chosen careers.

The Ministry of Education developed a suite of new Level 3 Te Marautanga o Aotearoa achievement standards which became available for schools/kura and students to use this year. Concurrently, the Ministry and NZQA jointly developed a proposal to align subjects and Level 3 standards from Te Marautanga o Aotearoa with the University Entrance approved subjects list, and sought feedback on the proposal during April and May. The majority of responses to the consultation supported the addition of the proposed new subjects and standards to the list.

NZQA Deputy Chief Executive Assessment, Kristine Kilkelly, says the alignment of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa subjects and standards with University Entrance ensures that the arrangements for the award of University Entrance are fully consistent with the equal status of both national curricula.

‘Students on the Maori-medium pathway will now be eligible to have their achievements count towards University Entrance, including students currently studying these subjects.’

Ms Kilkelly says courses delivered in akaupapaMāori context are aligned to the principles and intent of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, from which the new Level 3 subjects and the associated standards are derived. Students undertaking their learning within a kaupapa Māori context will be undertaking standards as part of coherent learning programmes aligned to the principles and intent of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. For this reason, only these students can be awarded the six unique Te Marautanga o Aotearoa subjects on the approved subjects list.

Summary of the changes
Six unique subjects have been added to the approved subjects list:

  • Hauora (Health)
  • Ngā toi (Arts)
  • Ngā mahi a te rēhia (Performing Arts)
  • Ngā toi ataata (Visual Arts)
  • Ngā toi puoro (Music)
  • Tikanga ā iwi (Social Science).

Comparable subjects have been brought together and renamed:

  • Hangarau/Technology
  • Pāngarau/Mathematics
  • Pūtaiao/Science.

Relevant Level 3 TMoA achievement standards have been added to 17 existing subjects on the list. A summary of feedback received during the consultation is available here on our website.

NZQA micro-credentials pilots launched

udacity self driving car

New Zealand's first micro-credential pilots were recently launched by Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith.

These pilots will enable NZQA to better understand the role micro-credentials could play in New Zealand’s education, training and qualification system of the future.

Micro-credentials, also known as badges and Nanodegrees, allow for specific skills or components of learning to be recognised. Micro-credentials are not units of learning toward a full qualification, but are a recognition of specific skills, experience and knowledge.

These pilots are a stepping stone to NZQA developing a full micro-credential system, so that employers and learners can access the skills they need throughout their lifetime. This is becoming even more important as the nature of work continues to change.

NZQA's micro-credential pilots follow on from the launch of the Government’s work programme in response to the Productivity Commission report on tertiary education.

More information on the three pilots can be found here.

NZQA rules updated

NZQA has recently updated a number of the NZQA Rules after consultation with the non-university tertiary education sector on proposed changes earlier this year. These changes ensure the NZQA Rules are clear, reflect operational changes, and enable NZQA to effectively perform its quality assurance functions.

Deputy Chief Executive Quality Assurance, Dr Grant Klinkum says 'The most significant change is to further strengthen Rule 18, English language entry criteria for international students. Ensuring that international students have the appropriate English language proficiency for the level of study they are enrolling in is vital for their academic success and positive learning experience in New Zealand’.

Other changes include the ability for NZQA to change the scope of an External Evaluation and Review (EER) before, during or after an EER visit, if necessary, where concerns are identified in an area not part of the original scope. Te Hono o Te Kahurangi quality assurance will also be further embedded into standard quality assurance processes, following its introduction into NZQA Rules in 2016.

We encourage education organisations to review their policies against the new Rules that are relevant to them, to ensure compliance. These changes can be found here.

For more information on the consultation on NZQA Rule changes please click here.

Ringa Toi Student Exhibition 2017: celebrating student success

Carving Gisborne Boys High School

A public exhibition will showcase the artwork of secondary school students with a focus on Toi Māori.

This year’s national Ringa Toi Student Exhibition will be held at the Asteron Centre, Wellington. Hosted by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), the exhibition celebrates the work of secondary school students working towards achieving NCEA Levels 1–3 with a focus on Toi Māori.

The work on display will be at Excellence level and will showcase a range of Māori art forms including raranga, kākahu (wearable art), tukutuku, tāniko, whakairo, kōwhaiwhai, mahi-tā (paint, print, spray), uku, whakapakoko (sculpture) and mahi-matihiko (digital).

The inaugural exhibition was launched last year with over 40 works. NZQA Chief Executive Karen Poutasi says Toi Māori is recognised as a vehicle to enhance student achievement and encourage retention at school. ‘It also provides a platform where the use of mātauranga Māori is advanced and Māori learner success is accelerated.’

The exhibition will be open for school groups and the public to view from Wednesday 20 September to Sunday 24 September. Entry is free and NZQA encourages teachers and students to come along and experience the artwork on display and learn more about the future of Toi Māori.

For more information, or to arrange a school group visit please contact Tracey Morgan on (04) 463 4279 or email

NZQA at NZIEC 2017


The 26th New Zealand International Education Conference (NZIEC) was held at the SkyCity Convention Centre in Auckland on 22-23 August.

Over 700 people attended the conference, including members of NZQA’s Quality Assurance and International teams. The conference featured over 90 speakers presenting on this year’s theme, ‘Leadership in International Education’.

NZQA had a booth in the Exhibition Hall that was well attended. New brochures were available for the conference that covered resources to support the international education sector, and information about the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code). The Code prescribes the required outcomes education providers and their agents need to deliver for their international students, and has the aim of protecting students.

Julia Moore, Team Leader Code at NZQA, gave a presentation about the Code to a full audience. The presentation was titled ‘The Code less travelled: Finding your way to quality in a new Code paradigm’.

‘The Code less travelled’ focused on the sector’s first year under the 2016 Code, and the presentation both confronted the difficulties faced, and pointed to a collaborative way forward.

NZQA staff were available to answer queries from conference attendees. The opportunity to share insights and experience with others in the sector proved valuable to our staff.

Nelson multi-subject Cluster Day

Cluster day moderator team with Tim Tucker on left

NZQA Assessment and Moderation staff delivered subject-specific workshops to around 300 teachers from the Nelson region at a multi-subject Cluster Day in June.

The event was held at Nelson College and saw teachers across 26 subject areas take part. Over 20 moderators delivered the workshops that were aimed at increasing teacher confidence in making assessor judgements.

NZQA Team Leader Teacher Support, Lynne Gill, says ‘It targeted subject support not offered in our Making Assessor Judgments workshops. This event was seen as very valuable by teachers’.

The Nelson Cluster Day followed in the footsteps of a similar offering in the Wairarapa region last year that consisted of a series of workshops over three months. This is being replicated with a smaller offering this year.

Deputy Principal of Nelson College and Cluster Day coordinator, Tim Tucker, says the day was ‘a perfect example of collaboration for the benefit of our students.’

‘NZQA could not do enough to make it happen, the subject facilitators on the day were excellent, the staff loved being together with fellow subject teachers and the schools’ administration were thrilled to be able to provide the opportunity for their staff.’

NZQA are currently reviewing our assessor support options, including how to best meet the needs of teachers and how they can access support.

More information will be available in November on the Best Practice Workshops and Assessor Support webpage in time for schools and assessors to see what best meets their needs and plan accordingly. Any queries may be directed to

Updated resources from NZQA


NZQA has a number of updated resources available that cover different areas of our work.

We have recently updated our series of NCEA factsheets, covering the key aspects of NCEA. These factsheets provide students, parents, whanau and employers with information on the key areas of NCEA, University Entrance (UE), and how these results are recognised overseas. You can find these factsheets here, these are designed to be printed off individually or viewed online.

Our young people are living in a global, digital world and we want to ensure we support our young people to obtain the skills they need to succeed as part of a global workforce. We have prepared information for parents and whānau regarding our digital assessment transformation journey, you can read this here.

NZQA has extensive bilateral and multilateral relationships with overseas governments as part of our commitment to ensuring New Zealand qualifications are well understood and transferable internationally. We have updated our website to include factsheets to show our global reach through our most recent work in the international education sector.

As the administrator for the Education (Pastoral Code of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code), NZQA quality assures the implementation of the Code by signatories in order to achieve the purpose of the Code. The Code prescribes the required outcomes education providers and their agents need to deliver for their international students, and has the aim of protecting students. We have recently produced a factsheet that shows our role in quality assurance of pastoral care for Code signatories.

In the last edition of QA News, we highlighted the NCEA pocket guide. This has been incredibly popular with those students undertaking NCEA at Level 2 and above. You can order all NCEA brochures here.

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