News & Views


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

Aronuitia te reo – Te reo Māori resource deck


NMSSA is pleased to launch this new resource which has been designed to assist schools with strengthening their provision of te reo Māori learning opportunities. It contains three sets of activity cards, each with a different focus, that can be explored in any order.

The resource is based on findings from NMSSA’s 2016 assessment of learning languages at Year 4 and Year 8 and has been developed with the support of the Ministry of Education.

The full set is now available for free download from the NMSSA website. There is also a printable A3 version.

English Insights for Teachers Released

English Insights for Teachers

Following the release of NMSSA Insights reports on creating meaning [1] and making meaning [2] in English, NMSSA has now released Insight reports into multimodal texts and critical literacy [3] and writing for an audience [4].

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 Insights reports supplement the English Key Findings and Summary reports released in November 2020. Further insights into student achievement for Science and Social Studies in 2020 and Mathematics and Health and PE in 2019, can be found here.

2021 programme in schools – and lockdown


Term 3 saw our 12 teachers, fresh from training in Wellington, head out to schools across the country. They were pleased to report back that students were really enjoying the tasks, the mixture of videos and practical activities, and the opportunity to share their ideas and opinions.

Unfortunately, the Covid lockdown saw the school visits paused from 18 August. It meant some fast thinking by the NMSSA team as we worked to get our teachers back to their homes in a hurry. Lockdown was really busy for the NMSSA team as we communicated with our sample schools, watched for the daily update from the government, and tried to plan ahead without quite knowing what we could actually plan for. Not least in our thoughts were schools and teachers across New Zealand moving rapidly back to supporting their students online.

In anticipation of a move back to Level 2, we adapted the programme to allow for three school visits per week. In week 7 of the term, that became the reality for areas outside of greater Auckland and we were able to approach our schools about the possibility of rescheduling a visit during the final three weeks of term. We had no expectations about how we might be received but are very grateful that most schools were still able to host the visit. Of our teachers, eight were able to get back out on the road and are enjoying these last days of term working in schools from the Waikato to Southland . Our thoughts remain with Auckland schools who will be looking forward to the break and hopefully a return to school in Term 4.



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.