Meeting the learning needs of all students is a complex and demanding task for schools. How well students achieve at a school depends on factors such as how well teachers engage with their students, and the relationships schools have with their students’ families and whānau. The assessment of student achievement, or understanding what students know and can do, is fundamental to effective teaching and to students’ learning. Unless teachers know students well and are knowledgeable about their achievements, they cannot be confident that they are meeting the learning needs of their students.

In summary, students, teachers and school managers can use assessment information to improve learning only when they have:

  • collected good quality information that fairly represents what students know and can do;
  • analysed the information to accurately determine the achievements of students;
  • correctly interpreted the information to report the achievements and progress of individuals and groups of students and to identify their next learning steps;
  • reviewed the information to evaluate and modify teaching programmes; and
  • used the information to report to inform governance and management decision making.

This report builds on the findings of The Collection and Use of Assessment Information in Schools, published by ERO in March 2007. This and other ERO evaluations have shown that, overall, assessment practice in schools can be improved considerably. While the Government has invested considerable resources in professional development programmes and developing assessment tools, with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy, many schools still need help in developing school-wide assessment policies, procedures and practice across all aspects of students’ learning.

The aim of this report is to help primary schools review and improve their assessment practices for the benefit of students.