News & Views


Welcome to the NMSSA News page, recently launched. Check in here for updates on the project and for items of interest.

Teacher Assessors 2021

Teacher Assessors 2021

Looking for an opportunity in Term 3? Do you have interests or responsibilities in the arts or technology? Every year, in Term 3, NMSSA assesses how students in Years 4 and 8 are achieving on different aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum by studying a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 students from 200 schools from Murihiku to Te Tai Tokerau, Southland to the far North.

Teacher assessors (TAs) are classroom teachers who are specially trained by NMSSA to visit schools to administer the NMSSA assessments. The use of teacher assessors allows NMSSA to deploy a range of approaches to assessment, including the use of one-to-one interviews. Read more about it from the perspective of teachers who have worked with us here.

Click here for details about the position or to start an application. You’ve got until 12 April to get your application in.

English Insights for Teachers Released

English Insights for Teachers

NMSSA Insights reports on creating meaning and making meaning in English are available online now.

Using data from the NMSSA English programme, these reports look at aspects of some of the assessment tasks in detail. The reports have been written for teachers and curriculum specialists and are designed to provide insights into how students responded, and the kinds of things that students found challenging. They also make suggestions as to how teachers might respond in the classroom.

These two Insights reports supplement the English Key Findings and Summary reports released in November 2020. Further insights into student achievement in the English learning area will be released later this year.

Similar Insights reports were released for Science and Social Studies in 2020 and Mathematics and Health and PE in 2019.

Social Studies: Online Workshops in May


Are you involved in delivering social studies based programmes? Interested in developments in students’ learning in social studies? We are pleased to announce two free online workshops, available in May, to support social studies learning and teaching in New Zealand classrooms and other educational settings.

The workshops will support teachers to explore the Social Studies Insights report. Feedback from these workshops in 2020 was really positive, and teachers commented that they could easily use what they’d learnt to inform their practice.

The Social Studies Insights report draws on insights generated from the assessment of social studies carried out by the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) in 2018. The study assessed students at years 4 and 8 using a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 students in 200 schools.

Registrations open 15 March. See details here.



In this post, I look at how NMSSA’s new Insights reports for the English learning area takes some of their inspiration from the national assessment programme that preceded NMSSA — the National Educational Monitoring Project (NEMP).

Charles Darr, Conceptual Leader, NMSSA, 10 March 2021

The National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) has just released two new reports focussed on learning in the English Learning Area (Creating Meaning and Making Meaning). The reports have been written for teachers and curriculum specialists and are designed to provide insights into teaching and learning based on findings from NMSSA’s 2019 English study. The reports also suggest how teachers might use learning opportunities to respond to different issues. The new reports mirror similar reports released for Science and Social Studies in 2020 and Mathematics and Health and Physical Education in 2019.

NMSSA’s commitment to reporting that speaks directly to classroom learning reflects its heritage. NMSSA follows on from the National Educational Monitoring Project (NEMP) that was set up in 1993 and that carried out a national assessment programme in New Zealand schools from 1995 to 2010. Like NMSSA, NEMP used a sample-based approach and was focussed on achievement at Year 4 and Year 8.

NEMP assessed learning across the curriculum over a four-year cycle (compared with NMSSA’s five-year cycle). Table 1 shows the original schedule for the first four cycles of NEMP. The last NEMP assessment programme in 2010 disrupted the cycle to some extent when Reading and Mathematics replaced Health and Physical Education, and Listening and Viewing in the assessment programme. As can be seen in the table, the English Learning area was divided into five language modes which were assessed in different years in two combinations (reading and speaking in one, and writing, listening and viewing in the other).

Table 1: The four-year NEMP assessment cycle

1 1995
  Visual Arts
  Information Skills: graphs, tables, maps, charts and diagrams
1 2
2 1996
  Language: reading and speaking
  Aspects of Technology
3 1997
  Mathematics: numeracy skills
  Social Studies
  Information Skills: library and research
4 1998
  Language: writing, listening and viewing
  Health and Physical Education

The NEMP programme featured extensive use of performance tasks (extended tasks often completed one-to-one with a Teacher Assessor). This enabled the project team to collect rich responses from students. The reports published by NEMP were organised around these tasks and described how students had responded to the different task elements. All the NEMP reports can still be accessed through the NEMP website (NEMP - NZ's National Education Monitoring Project ( Readers might be interested in exploring these further. In addition, some NEMP tasks with full instructions and scoring details can still be found on the Assessment Resource Bank (

At NMSSA we believe that the new Insights reports mentioned at the start of this post will stimulate thinking about teaching and learning with this generation of students. The two new English learning area reports, for instance, focus on insights related to creating meaning and making meaning, respectively. Extended commentaries, supported by task examples and annotated samples of student responses are used to alert readers to potential learning opportunities and useful resources. The reports cover insights related to several language modes. The insights involving speaking, viewing and presenting will prove very interesting to readers, given that professional resources in these areas are generally less available than they are for reading and writing.

The postponement of NMSSA’s programme in 2020 due to COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for the team to develop further Insights reports related to English and te reo Māori. These will be made available on the NMSSA website around the middle of this year.

NEMP established a principled commitment to a national monitoring system in New Zealand that was focussed on learners and their learning. NMSSA continues to hold to those principles. We hope the sector makes use of the resources being developed and benefits directly from the work undertaken.