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Achievement objectives

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Achievement objectives


The New Zealand Curriculum (page 30) specifies four conceptual strands for the social sciences. These are:

  • Identity, culture, and organisation
  • Place and environment
  • Continuity and change
  • The economic world


Students’ progress in learning history is demonstrated by their increasingly sophisticated ability to identify, apply, and reflect on historical concepts, structures, and processes.

… sophisticated historical thinkers are not those who have successfully moved away from content acquisition to the mastery of procedural knowledge but those who have made significant progress in understanding both the substance of the past and the ideas (procedures and concepts) necessary to make sense of it.

Stephane Levesque (2008). Thinking historically: Educating students for the 21st century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, page 31.

As they progress, students move:

  • from a focus on how people and their institutions are shaped by events to a focus on how underlying forces and movements shape events and then to looking at how abstract, impersonal forces shape history
  • from a focus on what happened during a specific time period to a focus on putting that period into its broader, dynamic context and then to considering how we use the past to help make sense of the present
  • from looking at how people’s perspectives on an event in its historical context differs from looking at how people have since come to interpret events in the past and then to examining disputes over the nature and extent of the underlying forces.

The achievement objectives and their related indicators are not used to measure students’ progress in terms of their understanding of the content covered or in terms of the knowledge they display. Rather they provide a framework that teachers and/or students may choose to use in their programmes to prioritise the ‘content’ of history and the conceptual tools needed for the study of the past.


Indicators are examples of the behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level.

Context elaborations

Context elaborations are possible contexts for learning, with a suggestion for how they might be used.

Following are the history achievement objectives by level and strand. Click on the learning objective for indicators, possible context elaborations, and relevant achievement standards.

Assessment for qualifications

It is possible to use any of the history achievement standards with any of the achievement objectives. Teachers will choose the contexts and emphases that best suit their students and their programmes.

Students need to be aware of the requirements of the generic standards. They should be studied and discussed as an explicit part of the preparation for externals.

Unpack the standard with students to make them aware of the requirements. Relate this to the contexts studied.

Practise with students the process of applying the generic questions stem to the contexts studied using previous exam questions and answers.

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.

It is possible to use any of the History Achievement Standards with any of the Achievement Objectives. Teachers will choose the contexts and emphases that best suit their students and their programmes.

See Learning programme design for sample history programmes.

Level 6

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

Level 7

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

Level 8

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

Last updated April 26, 2016