Using exemplars for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) external assessments : perceptions of secondary school teachers

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Scott, Karen
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Bassett, Martin
Cardno, Carol
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
secondary schools
teacher development
National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)
external assessment
Scott, K. (2018). Using Exemplars for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) External Assessments: Perceptions of Secondary School Teachers. An unpublished dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) publishes exemplars of student work following the external National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) examinations each year. These are provided as a resource to aid teachers’ and students’ understanding of the externally assessed achievement standards. However, there is a paucity of literature on the use of these exemplars by secondary school teachers of NCEA subjects in New Zealand. The aim of this study was to investigate what secondary school teachers believe is the purpose of these exemplars, how teachers use these exemplars in practice, and whether they perceive any challenges to be associated with their use. I adopted an interpretive approach as my epistemology because I was interested in the experiences and perceptions of secondary school teachers, and this knowledge was held in the minds of the participants. In this qualitative study, 50 secondary school teachers who were currently teaching NCEA subjects completed an electronic questionnaire, which was designed to elicit their perceptions of the use, value and challenges of exemplars for external assessments. Using an interpretive approach, findings of this research revealed that secondary school teachers have a clear understanding of the purpose of the exemplars for NCEA external assessments. The findings also indicate that these exemplars are used in a number of different ways by teachers. These findings also suggest that the nature of the achievement standard and the style of the assessment task are important factors in influencing how frequently the exemplars are used by teachers during teaching. It appears that there are some distinct subject specific differences in perception of the values and use of these exemplars, which is an area that could be explored further. This research emphasises the need for targeted professional development which is subject specific and designed not only to improve understanding of the interpretation of the standards but also to enhance the confidence and assessment capability of teachers overall.
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