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The Purpose

The Background

The Principles:
Trustworthy Information.
Focus on national change over time.
Accessing a broad range of achievements.
Involving practising teachers.
Best assessment practices.
Information used for improvement.

The Goals:

Schedule for NEMP's four-year cycle

The Method
Which schools and students?
What is assessed?
Who administers the tasks?
How assessments are conducted: four approaches

Reporting the results

Who is doing National Monitoring

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About N.E.M.P. : An Introduction to NEMP

“National Education Monitoring Project began in 1995. The final year of data gathering was 2010. This project has now come to an end. A new national study of student outcomes is currently in development.”

The Purpose
Was to get a broad picture of the achievements of representative samples of New Zealand school students at successive points in time so that:

  • trends in educational performance can be identified and reported;
  • good information is available to assist policy makers, curriculum specialists and educators with their planning;
  • the public can know about trends in educational achievement.

The Background
National monitoring started in general education settings in 1995. It was started in Mäori Medium settings in 1999.

It was recommended by at least four national working parties or committees of enquiry between 1962 and 1990. Their reports highlighted a need for dependable and consistent information about the educational achievements, attitudes and motivation of New Zealand students.

Valuable information has been available through New Zealand's participation in international IEA surveys, but these cover only some areas of our curriculum and are restricted mainly to paper and pencil tests and questionnaires.

Other countries have used national monitoring for up to 30 years. Since assessments began in 1995, the National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) has provided dependable information about the achievements of New Zealand students, using approaches tailored to New Zealand's school system and curriculum.


The Principles:

Trustworthy information
National monitoring provides trustworthy information to help both the general public and those involved in education make informed judgments about educational outcomes.

Focus on national change over time
The focus was on growth in educational achievement across time at a national level. National Monitoring does not produce information about individual students, teachers or schools.

Assessing a broad range of achievements
Knowledge, skills, motivation and attitudes are all assessed at the same time to give a full picture of what students know and can do.

Involving practising teachers
Teachers were involved in the development, trialing and administration of tasks, and in the analysis of student responses. This means that National Monitoring is grounded in good teaching practice, and that professional skills developed during the project are carried back into schools.

Best assessment practices
The best of existing assessment practices in our schools were used in the choice and design of assessment tasks.

Information used for improvement
National monitoring provides information to assist policy makers and teachers plan for greater achievement and success for all learners.

The Goals:

  • To conduct annual surveys of educational achievement nationally, on four yearly cycles of learning areas and skills.
  • To focus on students at two levels, four years apart: year 4 (age 8-9) and year 8 (age 12-13). In Mäori Medium settings, the focus is at year 8 level only.
  • To cover a broad range of content included in the New Zealand school curriculum.
  • To use tasks which are meaningful and enjoyable for the students to help gain a rich picture of their capabilities.
  • To include a wide range of activities, from those the majority of year 4 students are likely to have mastered to those which show the highest achievements of the most capable year 8 students.
  • To take a full account of differences of language, culture, gender, ability and disability in the design and administration of assessment tasks.

Schedule for NEMP's four-year cycle

1 1995
  Visual Arts
  Information Skills: graphs, tables, maps, charts   and diagrams
1 2
2 1996
  Language: reading and speaking
  Aspects of Technology
3 1997
  Mathematics: numeracy skills
  Social Studies
  Information Skills: library and research
4 1998
  Language: writing, listening and viewing
  Health and Physical Education

The Method
Which schools and students?
Each year about 3,000 students in 260 schools are randomly selected to take part in National Monitoring.The support of the selected schools and the parents of selected students is sought.

What is assessed?
The same learning areas are assessed every four years in order to give a picture of progress across time. The above schedule shows the learning areas which will be assessed over the second four year cycle.

Who administers the tasks?
About 100 teachers each year were seconded from schools for a week of training followed by five weeks administering the tasks in the selected schools.

How assessments are conducted: four approaches
Students work on tasks, with the support of a trained teacher-administrator, in four different ways:

1 One-to-one One student working with a teacher-administrator.

2 Group Four students working cooperatively.

3 Pencil-and-paper (Independent) Four students working on their own on the same pencil-and-paper tasks.

4 Stations Four students working independently around a series of hands-on activities.

• Each student works for about 3 to 4 hours spread over a period of 5 days.

• Some tasks are video-taped to enable detailed analysis later on.

Reporting the results
A wide audience was reached by using a variety of reporting methods. Those involved in education as well as the wider community have access to the project's findings. About two thirds of the tasks used in the project each year are made available for general classroom use. Others are reserved for the next cycle of monitoring, so that performance can be compared from one cycle to the next.

Who is doing National Monitoring
The Educational Assessment Research Unit of the University of Otago was contracted by the Ministry of Education to run the project.

The project was led by the Unit's co-directors, Dr Terry Crooks and Dr Jeffrey K. Smith. It is further supported by Emeritus Director, Lester Flockton, and eight other staff, a national advisory committee, Mäori reference groups and curriculum advisory panels. Wide consultation takes account of professional and community interests and each year schools, teachers and students are involved with task development and trialing.


Key Features Of NEMP



Sample of schools and students

cycle1 Sample 1995
Sample 1996
Sample 1997
Sample 1998

cycle1 Sample 1999
Sample 2000
Sample 2001
Sample 2002

cycle1 Sample 2003
Sample 2004
Sample 2005
Sample 2006
Jeffrey K. Smith

Emeritus Director:


Educational Assessment
Research Unit
University of Otago,
Box 56, Dunedin 9054,
New Zealand

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Fax : 64 03 479 7550

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