Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Senior Secondary navigation


You are here:

Social studies and assessment for qualifications

Consider how to align curriculum progression at levels 6, 7 and 8 with the new achievement standards. Consider how to design and manage formative assessment that supports NCEA achievement.

Matrix | Changes | Formative | Internal | Formal | Re-assessments | Approaches

Achievement standards

At the time of publication, achievement standards were in development to align them with The New Zealand Curriculum. Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the NZQA website.

Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011 and level 2 for use in 2012; level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

Social studies standards matrix

The draft social studies matrix outlines the social studies achievement standards. Select those that most closely align to your teaching and learning programme at the appropriate level.

Teacher actions

  • Discover and understand the changing requirements of the senior social studies achievement standards.
  • Design tasks, schedules, and formative assessments that support student achievement.
  • Choose local contexts that engage students’ interest.
  • Ensure sound management of formal assessments.
  • Log moderation procedures for tasks and grading.
  • Check the requirements for making resubmissions and re-assessments.
  • Guide students with examples of approaches to assessment.


The formative assessment for an internal standard must be for a different context than the final assessment to ensure the summative remains a valid assessment under the conditions of the NCEA.

The same format can be used which quickly reveals where students are misunderstanding or lacking detail or depth of responses.

What is changing with social studies standards?

Changes in senior social studies are significant.

Most standards have changed requirements. Key definitions have been refined.

As the new versions of the standards become valid for use from 2011, learning programmes and the summative assessment tasks and schedules will need to change too.

As with all achievement standards the specific requirements are described in the supporting notes, conditions of assessment and specifications.

Teacher actions

  • Review old and new versions together and highlight the variations in the new standard.
  • Identify what changes you need to make to learning programmes, resources, and approaches to enable students to meet the requirements of all criteria.
  • Assess how to reshape existing curriculum to meet the school’s, students' and community’s needs.
  • Consider new contexts that will engage students and match NCEA requirements.


In achievement standard 1.2 (social inquiry), realignment has reduced the evidence requirements. Students will be penalised if assessment tasks and schedules were not changed accordingly. Check all other standards to identify similar changes.

The personal involvement in a social justice and human rights action standard (1.4) requires students to actually be participating in the social action they are investigating.

Careful inspections of the criteria and notes at every stage of your course and assessment development will ensure your assessments are valid and equitable, and provide a smooth pathway for your students to demonstrate their capabilities.

Formative assessment is powerful when it mirrors final assessment


In scaffolding towards achievement standard 2.2 (conduct an evaluated social inquiry), students can be assessed on their ability to evaluate research during preparation for another standard entirely. For example, students may be required to carry out some research to investigate AS 2.5 (describe a social action) to meet responsibilities and rights.

Establishing an inquiry framework and then evaluating their research process will promote significant learning for the later inquiry. This is best done openly with full student knowledge of its purpose. Within AS 2.5, the 'three strikes legislation' could be used as a formative context to examine how laws come about to redress social needs, with 'crushing the boy racer laws' as the summative context. Other than the context, the structure and marking schedule can (and should) be the same.

Using local contexts for internal assessments

Several schools report students achieving higher levels of success in NCEA achievement standards when the focus has been on local issues.

Teacher actions

  • Take into account a range of factors such as the culture, gender, literacy needs, specific learning differences and styles when you choose texts or assessment contexts for your learners.
  • Consider student interests and current issues as you design and review your local curriculum.
  • Adapt or change curriculum contexts and select fresh texts and resources to suit the learners and reflect current issues.


Contexts may shift from year to year. For example, local issues may arise that your learning programme will need to address, such as:

  • public access to community facilities, funding for local preschools, recreation facilities, skate-bowl or sportsground for local teens
  • cultural issues, such as the conflict of mining with urupa, access to beaches, use of beech forests or mining in national parks.

Such issues may not be an appropriate for every class or provide rich ground for exploration. Ensure student interests, learning contexts and curriculum objectives are aligned.

Managing formal assessment

Schools have their own policies on the management of assessments as a requirement for NCEA accreditation.

Teacher actions

  • Put in place robust system for recording student achievement to ensure sound and equitable results; reduce the worry of losing students' work, or of presenting an assessment which then requires lots of rescue work to make it valid.
  • Keep a moderation log.
  • Make the schedule reflect only what is in the standard.
  • Publish and make transparent your assessment requirements.
  • Use ‘checkpoints’ for evidence collecting over longer time frames.
  • Mark a sample – moderate – mark more and keep exemplars.


Your moderation log will note that the tasks and schedule were moderated (by a teacher peer, or colleague from another department or school).

The schedule itself will reflect the requirements of the criteria and specifically the notes that detail the requirements for the levels of attainment.

Be clear on what you are not assessing.

There is no requirement in any social studies standards for structured paragraphing, accurate spelling and grammar, specific need for diagrams or any particular formatting. This should not stop you from considering the literacy needs of your students in the context of senior social studies.

In 2011, five level 1 social studies standards meet the criteria for level 1 literacy. See NZQA: Literacy and numeracy requirements for NCEA level 1.

Valid evidence found in the ‘wrong’ part of the student’s submission is still able to be used towards the final judgement.

Publish the assessment requirements to ensure valid application of the assessment occurs with consistency between classes or years.

There is no requirement for time limitations, so any equitable allocation will do that allows students to complete the tasks.

For an extended assessment such as the inquiry for 1.2, you might get students to develop a plan and checkpoints to keep them on track. Ask for a submission of the plan, later for the research findings, and later still the self-evaluation. This encourages students to self-manage and take ownership of their learning.

Making resubmissions and re-assessments

Check the policies on resubmissions and re-assessments at NZQA: Assessment and examination rules and procedures for secondary schools.

Examples of approaches to assessments

When you design an assessment activity, start with the learning outcomes you were working towards from the achievement objective from the NZC.

Remember the task is just a vehicle to allow students to present evidence towards the standard. Ensure your task is valid and is appropriate for the learning being assessed.

Regardless of the richness and diversity of your topic the assessment is best when it matches the requirements of the criteria as detailed in the notes.

Ensure your assessment tasks elicit responses which allow the students to provide evidence at the highest level attainable for the criterion.

Refer to the TKI assessment resources exemplars – NCEA standards alignment – social studies.

< Pedagogy

Last updated March 23, 2018