What’s the big picture for embedding literacy and numeracy via the new NZCALNE (Voc)?

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What’s the big picture?

Here’s the big picture for embedding literacy and numeracy and an update on our work at ALEC.

This is the big picture for our revised embedding process and pipeline. And it’s the big picture for the new NZCALNE (Voc) training and qualification that we’re feverishly working on.

New content for Collections 1 to 4 are complete. We’ve also finished the Portfolio+ assessments for 5 to 7. We’re still working on the regular content for Collections 5 to 7.

What does that mean?

That means that you or your tutors should be working on the new version of this qualification now.

If you’re an experienced tutor, that means that we are now set up to work with you using a portfolio approach for the practical work. Get in touch if this is you – assess@alec.ac.nz

It also means that we’ll have this new content live on Pathways Awarua shortly. There’s a short video overview here on my blog in the meantime and all the new content is summarised here with links.

Also, stay tuned for new and revised content for Collections 5 to 7 covering diagnostic assessment, planning, facilitating, and assessing progress.

If you want to print out the new structure, just hit the link below for a PDF version:

Strategies: What are some examples of numeracy strategies?

Strategies (12)

Here are some more examples of numeracy strategies developed by tutors for embedding numeracy into their programmes.

These are the kind of concise summaries that you’ll also need to write for your assessment.

Don’t forget, for assessment purposes for this course, you only need to write two – one for each of literacy and numeracy.

Below are some examples of numeracy strategies:

  • Teach my learners how to use number to solve problems with a focus on additive strategies and place value in the context of my Introduction to Farming course for highschool students.
  • Teach my learners how to measure with a focus on estimation and using a tape for metric measurement in my New Zealand Certificate in Building and Construction programme.
  • Teach my learners how to measure with a focus on calculating the area of rectangles from measurements of length in the module I’m planning this semester for the course I teach on Level 3 Horticulture and sustainable development.

What’s causing the problem? Thinking deeper and taking notes

By now you should have had some time to think about what’s causing the problem of low adult literacy and numeracy? Or at least, you’ve had some time to think about the factors that we associate with low literacy and numeracy levels.

Here’s what we’ve covered:

  • The impact of colonisation
  • Socio-economic factors
  • Cycles of poverty
  • Poor teaching
  • Technology

Let’s make some notes. As with the other sections, you might want to skip back and check on any details. But we also want you to think about your own learners. What do you see as the main factors associated with low adult literacy and numeracy?

Time to do some work

Let’s pause for a few moments. Here’s your task:

  1. Download the worksheet, or use the chart below to make notes on the different
  2. factors we’ve talked about.
  3. Can you think of specific examples for each?
  4. What’s the impact of each on your learners?
  5. What’s the wider impact of these on our country as a whole?

This task is not assessed, but it will help you with your assessment.

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What’s the problem? Technology

The impact of technology and the accelerating technological change is one of the themes that often comes up in discussions about why we face literacy and numeracy problems in the 21st century.

The relentless march of technology and increasing technological complexity mean that the demands of work and life have changed significantly in recent years compared to previous generations.

Adult learners today face literacy and numeracy demands today that simply did not exist before. Or at least they did not exist in the same way due to the increasing integration of computers, mobile devices, and the internet in our daily lives and work.

This change is highly visible and means that we all need to develop new “literacies” including digital literacy in order to keep learning and address gaps that could emerge between the “technologically” rich and poor.

Your learners are likely to be at a disadvantage if they can’t access online resources and services for work or daily life.

Some questions to think about

Let’s pause for a few moments. The questions below are not assessed, but thinking about your answers to them will help you with the assessment task.

  1. What impact has technology had on your trade or industry?
  2. What about the impact on how you teach or assess?
  3. What can you do to help encourage digital literacy?

Low adult literacy and numeracy levels: What’s causing the problem?


It’s difficult to say exactly what is causing the problem of low adult literacy and numeracy in Aotearoa New Zealand. What we can say though is that low adult literacy and numeracy skills are associated with certain kinds of things.

Just because two things happen together doesn’t always mean that one causes the other. This is an easy mistake to make. In technical terms, we can say this: “Correlation does not imply causation.”

So the point is to be a bit cautious when we’re talking about what we think is causing the problem.

That said, here’s a list of things that often pop up when we talk about what’s causing low skills in the adult population in literacy and numeracy:

  • The impact of colonisation.
  • Socio-economic factors.
  • Cycles of poverty.
  • Poor teaching.
  • Technology.

We’ll have a look at each of these next.

Under the hood: Taking notes on the five frameworks


As with the definitions, it’s a good idea to pause here and think about what we’ve covered so far. You need to know about each of these frameworks and how they apply to you as a teacher or trainer:

  • Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy
  • Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy
  • Te Whare Tapa Whā
  • Fonofale Pasifika
  • ESOL Starting Points

Let’s make some notes. You might want to skip back and check on any details. But we also want you to think about your own situation and how you would answer these questions in your own words

For each framework you should be able to say what you think for each of these questions:

  • What’s the framework for?
  • What actually is it? What’s it about?
  • How’s it relevant to your own teaching or training situation?
  • What are the implications for you? Is there something you need to do?

Time to do some work

Let’s pause for a few moments. Here’s your task:

  • Download the worksheet, or use the chart below to make notes on the five frameworks we’ve talked about.
  • Make sure you’ve got some notes on what each one is for, what it’s about, as well as the relevance to your learners, and any implications for your teaching.

This task is not assessed, but it will help you with your assessment.


Under the hood: Learning progressions for adult numeracy

Num Progs

The Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy are part two of the Learning Progressions framework. We use the numeracy progressions to help us understand how to embed numeracy. Part one is the Literacy Progressions discussed in the last section.

Where does it come from?

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

What’s it for?

The numeracy progressions are

  • A guide to identifying the next numeracy steps for adult learners.

As we saw with literacy in the last section, the Numeracy Progressions provide a framework that shows what adult learners know and can do at successive points as they develop their expertise in numeracy learning.

The progressions describe what is learned in the order that it is usually learned. And just as we can with the Literacy Progressions, we can use the Numeracy Progressions to:

  • Identify the numeracy-related demands of a specific workplace, community, or personal tasks and texts.
  • Gain a basic picture of an adult learner’s current skills, strategies and knowledge in numeracy.
  • Decide on a sequence for teaching and learning specific numeracy skills.

What is it?

Like the Literacy Progressions, the Numeracy Progressions are best understood visually as three grids. These grids are the numeracy strands. There is one for number, one for statistics, and another for measurement.

Together these three strands are the framework we use for numeracy. Here is the number strand.


The Number strand has six columns or progressions. In the strand above, the first column is the Additive Strategies Progression. We’ll talk about the details later, but for now all you need to know is that this includes addition and subtraction. And that there are six koru or steps going down from top to bottom.

Something else that’s good to know at this stage is that this strand has three strategies progressions on the right-hand side. And then you can see three other progressions on the left in grey. These grey ones are knowledge progressions.

This means that the koru or steps on the right includes all the things you need to know, in order to do all the things on the left. So the knowledge needs to come first.

Here’s the strand that includes shapes, space, and measurement.


As with the literacy strands we showed you before, we’ve taken out the details. All you need for now is to have an idea on how the framework is put together.

Module 3 is where we will fill in the details and show you how to work with it to work out the numeracy demands of your teaching or training.

To sum up, The Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy are organised into three strands:

  • Make Sense of Number to Solve Problems
  • Reason Statistically
  • Measure and Interpret Shape and Space

As with literacy, each strand contains a group of progressions. Each progression highlights a particular area of knowledge or learning within a strand, for example, measurement.

And as before, each step or koru in a progression represents a development step as learners strengthen or build their expertise.

How is it relevant?

Everything that we said before about the Literacy Progressions applies here. Except the focus is on numeracy. The underlying idea is that the numeracy progressions can help you teach better.

Our focus in this course, involves you using the numeracy progressions to do the following.

  • Work out the numeracy demands of your teaching (Module 3 – Demands).
  • Design strategies for embedding numeracy into your programme (Module 4).
  • Assess and understand your learners’ numeracy needs better (Module 5 – Before).
  • Plan how to embed numeracy into teaching and activities (Module 6 – Teaching).
  • Assess learner numeracy progress (Module 7 – After).

What does it mean for me?

Once you have a working knowledge of the Learning Progressions you’ll be able to focus on better teaching by understanding the demands of your training, the strengths and needs of your learners, and what you need to do to move your learners on to the next step.

As with literacy there are implications for you relating to assessment. If you use the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT), you’ll need to do a numeracy assessment as well.

This one also generates a detailed report for each learner showing key numeracy strengths and needs. It looks like this.


Make sure that you have access to these reports. In an ideal world, you should have electronic access to the tool itself. But if you don’t, then ask your tool admin person to email them to you.

We’ll show you how to make sense of the information later. This will be a key part of Module 5 when we cover the kinds of diagnostic tools and processes you can use to be a better, more informed educator.