Primary and intermediate school pupils will ultimately benefit from a further vote of confidence – and cash – in the Educational Assessment Research Unit at the University of Otago’s College of Education.
After spending five years running the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement on behalf of the Ministry of Education, the research unit is being funded for a five-year follow-up study.
The study’s project leader, Sharon Young, explains that they are monitoring student achievement in Years 4 and 8, focusing on two learning areas of the curriculum each year.
Young, who is a co-director of the research unit, says that the study involves members of the unit, lecturers with expertise in specific curriculum areas, and up to 24 seconded teachers who administer the assessments.
She says that the specially trained teacher-assessors spend two and a half days in each of 200 randomly selected schools around the country each year, testing 25 randomly chosen students from each school who are withdrawn from their normal classes (with their parents’ permission) to participate in a range of assessment activities. Teachers are also employed to mark the assessments.
“The data are important in informing ministry policymakers about where children are sitting in relation to the curriculum, and where there might be gaps and more resource development needed,” Young says.
“The data from the first cycle indicate that more Year 4 students than Year 8 students are meeting the curriculum expectations, so it will be interesting to see whether anything has changed in this new cycle.”