I’m not going to answer the question. But you might want to read below if you have your own ideas.
I want to talk about a presentation that did the rounds today. If you click this link below, you’ll be able to download the slides. It’s on literacy and numeracy levels in relation to NCEA year levels.
If you look past the poor design, some interesting pieces of data pop out. Here is how I have interpreted these… in bullet form because I know you won’t read the presentation:
- Proportions of students achieving at or above the national standards haven’t really moved at all between the years 2011 to 2014
- Percentages of students at or above the national standards drop as they go through the year levels.
- Teachers at years 7-11 are teaching content and content vocabulary, but minimising literacy challenges for students. The report says they’re doing this with the best interests of the students in mind.
- The numbers of 18 year-olds with NCEA level 2 or equivalent has dramatically increased from 2011 to now, including for Maori and Pasifika.
And here’s some connections to data from the TEC’s Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT). This is where it gets really interesting.
Just in case you are wondering, all tertiary education providers – that is, post high school – delivering foundation level learning are required to use the LNAAT as a condition of funding.
The benchmark here was Level 3 from the ALL Survey which they have lined up with Step 4 for Literacy and Step 5 for Numeracy.
- Just over half (51%) of year 11 students with NCEA level 1 reading are below the benchmark for reading. This means half of students with NCEA level 1 are at step 3 or below in the LNAAT.
- Just under half (47%) of year 11 students with NCEA level 1 numeracy are below the benchmark. This means that these students are at step 4 or below in the LNAAT.
Just an example: If your kid read at step 3, but not at step 4, this means they have a basic vocabulary of everyday words. What they probably can’t read and understand is any academic language, like the kinds of “teacher words” used to describe the tasks they have to do at school. They also probably can’t understand any of the technical or specialised words they need to make sense of the subject matter that they’re learning.
What they probably can’t read and understand is any academic language, like the kinds of “teacher words” used to describe the tasks they have to do at school. These words kind of slot in at step 4 and 5. They also probably can’t understand any of the technical or specialised words they need to make sense of the subject matter that they’re learning.
They also probably can’t understand any of the technical or specialised words they need to make sense of the subject matter that they’re learning. These words start at step 5 but they sit mainly at step 6. Here we’re talking about the specialised language of a trade, or of any content area really.
Remember, these students in the stats above already have NCEA Level 1 signed off. This means that they have already achieved the required number of credits for literacy and numeracy. That means they passed at least 20 credits dedicated to literacy and numeracy.
Just so we’re clear: teachers already signed off that these students met the requirement for literacy and numeracy for NCEA level 1.
But the test data indicates that they are below the level literacy and numeracy levels of actual literacy and numeracy standards.
Here’s the data for year 12 according to the presentation.
- 42% of year 12 students with NCEA L2 reading are below the benchmark. That is they are at step 3 or below on the LNAAT.
- 41% of year 12 students with NCEA L2 numeracy are below the benchmark. In other words, at step 4 or below on the LNAAT.
Highlighted in red in the presentation is the following (I’ve tidied up the grammar):
- The data suggests that students achieving [NCEA] requirements only through unit standards have lower performance on the LNAAT.
- Year 12 students who met requirements through unit standards [only] were less
likely to achieve NCEA Level 2.
Here’s a question to consider:
- If this data is correct, does it mean that high-school teachers, already pushed for time and working under less than ideal conditions, need to think about better ways of integrating or embedding literacy and numeracy into their content teaching?
If this is correct they need to rethink their fundamental approaches to teaching their content. And here’s another question, although more of a prediction:
- The Ministry of Education – through the TEC – already owns a well-researched and now widely implemented tool for measuring literacy and numeracy gains. They even have a “Youth” version. If you were working in Government, wouldn’t it make economic sense to you to apply this tool to the years 11 – 13 to assess literacy and numeracy gains? I’d start with the vocational areas first.
I’m not advocating for it. And I’m not judging. Well, maybe a little. Anyway, finally a suggestion:
- If you were a school teacher, or principal faced with massive new compliance requirements on the horizon related to literacy and numeracy gains, wouldn’t it make sense to look at a home-grown and already existing model for embedding literacy and numeracy into trades and other content areas?