Alignments – NCEA Submission 2018

Julia Westera Julia Westera

This submission has direct relevance to all 6 Big Opportunities:

  • Create space at NCEA Level 1 for powerful learning
  • Literacy / Numeracy
  • Refocus on Learning
  • Ensure NCEA Levels 2 and 3 support good connections beyond schooling
  • Ensure the Record of Achievement tells us about learners’ capabilities
  • Dismantling barriers to NCEA

Foundational Learning to access NCEA and the Broader Curriculum

Where are the evidence-based interventions?

If schools have a shared, cross-curricular pedagogy that empowers students as learners, thinkers and collaborators, they have a foundation from which each teacher is able to co-construct rich learning opportunities with students.

Whatever NCEA looks like, for learning to be effective and future-focused at the senior high school level, students need a solid foundation of intertwined thinking, learning and collaborative skills integrated deeply across literacy, numeracy and all learning areas. If NCEA is the stepping stone into further education and employment, then it must reflect not only content knowledge, but the key skills and dispositions that students have developed to enable them to be collaborative thinkers and problem-solvers who enjoy challenges, around the future use of both that and new knowledge.

The current system appears to reinforce traditional silo thinking of learning areas, rather than facilitating integrated learning that encourages students to cognitively interleaf across a range of ideas, strategies and discourses. Learning such as this needs to start early in a student’s schooling, but with a clear vision that this learning is setting students up as life-long learners, not merely enabling them to pass examinations in an isolated and insular fashion.

Evidence-based foundational learning in the formative years and consistently integrated throughout schooling, including in the senior years, can provide a shared language and a process of learning that deeply weaves together and empowers students, whanau, teachers, schools/kura and communities. Some interventions such as Reciprocal Teaching-RT3T™ and Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities - DMIC, have a large evidence-base from both NZ and international research which shows a significant improvement to raising literacy and numeracy and cross-curricular achievement - for all students, irrespective of age, gender and ethnicity. (see Best Evidence Synthesis Exemplars,

However currently, there are many barriers to equitable access to these foundational interventions for schools and their communities.

If these core teaching and learning practices are integral to NCEA, high school teachers will shift their current narrow focus on NCEA, to prioritise the NZ Curriculum. This would be a consistent and powerful way to redress disparities amongst students at formative times before and during their NCEA programme of learning.

Both these evidence-based interventions are proven to work for our students and their teachers, with lasting effects - if done strategically and to a high standard. Both are multi-purpose, and weave together language, kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face), collaborative, tuākana-tēina, cognitive / metacognitive and academic skills. Both interventions can provide every student with a confident growth mindset, and 21st century learning and relationship skills - all with immediate relevance for every aspect of our children’s lives – whanau, community, parenting, trades, tertiary, employment, sports.

Are we serious about reducing disparity and improving literacy and numeracy?

Why aren’t these evidence-based foundational interventions solidly embedded in our sector?

Reciprocal Teaching has a huge evidence base

  • Reciprocal Teaching was invented by leading international cognitive and educational researchers Palincsar & Brown (1984)
  • John Hattie: Visible Learning (2009): Reciprocal Teaching is the third most powerful strategy, doubling the speed of learning

The Best Evidence Synthesis: BES selected Reciprocal Teaching as an exceptional fit with the BES goal of ‘making a bigger difference across multiple valued outcomes for diverse (all) learners while accelerating progress for students who are under-achieving’.

Update on the evidence base

Reciprocal Teaching was ranked as the 3rd highest in impact out of 49 effective teaching strategies by Professor John Hattie, in his book, Visible Learning (2009).

He more recently ranked Reciprocal Teaching at the top of his top ten teaching strategies (2017):

2018 accelerated learning literacy maths secondary school NCEA reciprocal reading high school teaching strategies RT3T assessment for learning cross-curricular evidence base pedagogy key competencies reciprocal teaching