DEMANDS – New Content for the new NZCALNE Assessment 3 with ALEC

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Kia ora ano and welcome back

You’re up to the third assessment task in the new and improved NZCALNE (Voc). Kai pai you…!

We’re working hard to get all new content for this and other modules live on Pathways Awarua, but until then you can find the first draft here.

The new Assessment 3 still focuses on mapping the demands of your programme using the Learning Progressions. However, the format is simpler and easier to use.

There are six short sections to complete in the new assessment task.

  • What are the big picture literacy demands?
  • What are the big picture numeracy demands?
  • What are some specific reading demands?
  • What are some specific writing demands?
  • What are some specific number demands?
  • What are some specific measurement demands?

Follow the links below

If you already know what you’re doing with mapping, please skip ahead to the assessment template. Email us if you don’t already have it. You can always come back and dip into these resources as you need to.


The Learning Progressions

Looking at the big picture for literacy

Looking at the big picture for numeracy

Getting more specific

If you’re stuck, please reach out by email here: or call Graeme on 0800-ALEC-1-2

Demands: What are some specific reading demands?

We are going to be working with the Read with Understanding strand. Now… let’s go through it slowly. If you are already an experienced mapper, please skip ahead to the assessment task.

1. Print out the Read with Understanding strand.

Make sure you have the Read with Understanding strand in front of you so you can refer to the details for each step.

It looks like this, but it will have descriptions of skills and knowledge in all of the steps. You can Download the Read with Understanding Strand Chart if you need to.

Read with Understanding

Screenshot 2017-03-16 10.44.252. Choose a specific sample reading text or task from your teaching programme.

Choose some kind of teaching material that your learners have to work with, not NZQA unit standard descriptions.

Here are some examples of samples that you could choose:

  • Several pages from a workbook containing difficult vocabulary or new terminology.
  • Pages from a Code of Practice that people don’t always understand.
  • Content from a workplace induction procedure.
  • A health and safety compliance document.
  • A complicated notice that people have to read and understand.
  • Relevant pages from an Act of Parliament that is relevant to training and assessment.

3. Have clear reasons for choosing the sample

In the assessment template, you’ll need to say why you chose the sample. There are lots of reasons. Here are some:

  • You might have chosen some teaching material that you already know causes difficulties for your learners.
  • You might already know that you need to create some new material to teach a new part of your programme.
  • Your supervisor or manager may have asked you to focus on something in particular.

4. Start your mapping with the Vocabulary progression

In a nutshell, what you’re going to do at every stage is refer to the Strand charts and then shade in your own chart down to the relevant step.

We’re going to practice with the vocabulary progression. This is the easiest place to start.

For most training that has a technical aspect, like trades or employment focused training, it’s safe to start at around step 4/5 for reading. Look at the description for vocabulary at step 4/5.

You’ll see the following:

“… a reading vocabulary that includes some general academic
words and some specialised words”.

Vocabulary Most adults will be able to
Koru / step 1 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words, signs and symbols.
Koru / step 2 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words that includes some compound words.
Koru / step 3 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words and some less common words, acronyms and abbreviations.
Koru / step 4 – 5 have a reading vocabulary that includes some general academic words and some specialised words.
Koru / step 6 have a large reading vocabulary that includes general academic words and specialised words and terms.

5. Use what you know about your own subject

At this point, you need to use your own knowledge of your training material or work to decide whether this applies. In other words:

  • Does the sample require your learners to be able to use some academic words (like “measure”, “demonstrate”, “evaluate”, for example)?
  • Does the material require your learners to use some words that are specific to your trade or specialised training content (“listeria” for catering, “glyphosate” for farming or horticulture, or “Nogs and dwangs” for carpentry, for example)?

If your answer was no, then you need to drop back to step 3 and see if that fits better. Step 3 for vocabulary means there are no academic words and no specialised or technical words.

If you answered yes, then you should push ahead to step 6 and see if the answer is still yes to the description there.

Step 6 applies to vocabulary where you expect your learners to be working with a large bank of academic and specialised or technical words.

If you work in trades, your material is probably at least at steps 4/5 or 6 for vocabulary.

If you have a lot of technical jargon to deal with then go with step 6. If there’s just a bit, but it’s not too much then go with steps 4/5, which is a combined step.

If you’re not sure about what step, this process works well if you do it together with a colleague who knows what you know about what you teach or train.

6. Map the demands on paper first

If you’re working on paper, get a highlighter and shade down from the top until you’ve included the highest step that you identified for vocabulary. You’ll end up with something like this:

Screenshot 2017-03-20 17.32.43

This is mapping. Above, we’ve mapped the vocabulary demands for reading at steps 4 / 5.

You can download a chart and worksheet here for mapping your own reading sample. It’s exactly the same as section 3.3 of your assessment task. Print this out and you can use it as a rough draft and for notes.

7. Map your reading sample against the rest of the progressions in the strand.

Once you’ve mapped vocabulary, you can move on to Decoding and then other progressions. The system is the same. For each relevant progression:

  • Start somewhere in the middle of the steps – say around step 3.
  • Read the description from the Strand Chart for this step.
  • Use your judgement and decide of your sample matches the description. If it doesn’t drop down to a lower step. If it does, go to a higher step and repeat.

If a progression is not relevant you can skip it. But make sure you have a reason for this as your tutor or assessor may ask you.

There is also some subjective judgement involved. But also, you are the expert here. You know your own content. In the case of vocabulary, it’s easy… If you see technical jargon, you can’t map it at step 3. It has to be above this.

Also, many of the skills and knowledge required at steps 1 and 2 is very developmental. For trades and most courses, you’re going to be mapping at step 3 and above.

In fact, if you are a trades tutor, you may find that much of your course is at step 5 and 6.

When you’ve mapped all of the relevant reading progressions for your sample, you might end up with something like this:

Screenshot 2017-03-20 17.32.54

This is mapping in visual terms. From here you need to be able to talk about your results and what they mean.

When you complete the assessment task, you’ll need to answer a series of questions to show that you know what you’ve just done.

These questions are in the assessment template and in the worksheet if you download it. They’re also here below:

  • What text or task did you use?
  • Why did you choose this as your sample?
  • Out of everything here, what are the most important progressions and steps?
  • What about planning for assessment and teaching?

In the template, there are prompts to help you answer the questions. Feel free to ignore them if you like. But they are there to help you get started writing your answers and guide you in the right direction.

If you can map a sample reading text and answer the questions above, you can move onto the next module. Keep your sample handy, though. You’ll need to scan it and upload it when you submit your finished assessment task.

Narrowing the focus: mapping to progressions and steps

Knowing the demands (14)

In the last two modules, you learned how to map your teaching programme to the strands and progressions of the Learning Progressions.

Next, we’ll be looking at how you map some specific samples of your teaching materials or other content to the progressions and steps of the Learning Progressions.

In the modules that follow, you’ll learn how to map specific demands for a sample of:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Number
  • Measurement

This will carry you through the rest of Assessment 3. By now you might have already downloaded the assessment template and made a start.

If you haven’t we’d encourage you to skip ahead and download the template. This means you can dip in and out of these modules as you need to.

We also suggest that you work your way through each module that follows but also refer back the material for reference or clarification.

Demands: What are strands, progressions and steps?

Knowing the demands (5) As we learned in the first part of this course, the strands are the big content areas. These are the big grids that we’ll use for mapping.

Literacy has four strands and numeracy has three. These are as follows:

  • Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy
    • Listen to understand
    • Speak to communicate
    • Read with understanding
    • Write to communicate
  • Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy
    • Make sense of number to solve problems
    • Reason statistically
    • Measure and interpret shape and space

Each strand then breaks down into a number of progressions. These are the smaller content areas that fit inside the strand. Some of the jargon here might be new.

For now, don’t worry if there are new words or you’re not quite sure about what they mean. We’ll get to that shortly. Just pay attention to how things are organised for now.

For example, here is a simplified version of the Read with Understanding strand and progressions. You might remember this from the first assessment as well.

Screenshot 2017-03-16 10.44.25

Here’s how the strand breaks down:

  • Read with Understanding
    • Decoding progression
    • Vocabulary progression
    • Language and text progression
    • Comprehension progression
    • Reading critically progression.

From here, each progression breaks down into steps. We also call these koru. Each step or koru describes different kinds of knowledge or skills.

Here’s an example of the steps from the Vocabulary progression in the Reading strand above:

Vocabulary Most adults will be able to
Koru / step 1 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words, signs and symbols.
Koru / step 2 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words that includes some compound words.
Koru / step 3 have a reading vocabulary of everyday words and some less common words, acronyms and abbreviations.
Koru / step 4 – 5 have a reading vocabulary that includes some general academic words and some specialised words.
Koru / step 6 have a large reading vocabulary that includes general academic words and specialised words and terms.

Some steps or koru are combined like steps 4 and 5 in the example above. But the important thing to know is that there are six possible divisions.  

One exception is that in the Make Sense of Number to Solve Problems strand, the knowledge progressions stop at step 5. There’s a reason for this, but we’ll come to it later.  

Koru/Step 1 indicates the initial learning step and as the learning builds and the demands increase so do the steps.

Another way to think about this is that step 1 or 2 skills or knowledge are basic and often developmental, while skills or knowledge at step 5 or 6 are more complex and need to be applied to real life.

Here’s an example. These are the steps in the Number Facts Progression in the Make Sense of Number to Solve Problems strand. 

Number Facts Most adults will know
Koru / step 1 addition facts with sums of 5 or 10.
Koru / step 2 basic addition and subtraction facts up to 10 + 10.
Koru / step 3 basic multiplication facts up to 10 x 10.
Koru / step 4 basic multiplication facts with tens, hundreds, and thousands.
Koru / step 5 fraction, decimal and percentage conversions for halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, and tenths.
Koru / step 6 Left blank

We will limit our focus in this training to just two strands for each of literacy and numeracy. You can go beyond this if you want to. But for your assessments, we only require you to look at reading, writing, number, and measurement.

Let’s just sort out the confusion around steps versus levels when it comes to literacy and numeracy


I didn’t create this confusion, but I’d like to clear it up…

One of the things that people I meet seem constantly confused about is the difference between some very similar sounding language that we use in education, and in particular, in the field of literacy and numeracy, to describe things like skills.

Here are the two problem words: Steps and Levels.

Now here’s where the confusion sets in. There are at least three different things that these two words get used for, often interchangeably:

  • ALLS: The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALLS) Survey data from 2006 talks about Skill Levels on a scale of 1 to 5. For example, to function well in society you need to be at or above Level 3 which is generally considered to be the baseline in terms of the literacy and numeracy skills that you need to function at work, in study, or just in general.
  • Progressions: The Adult Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions talks about Steps on a scale of 1 to 6. Step 1 means low literacy or numeracy skills. Step 6 in a particular progression means that you are highly literate or numeracy in terms of that progression. For example, Step 6 for the Vocabulary Progression in the Reading Strand means that you have large vocabulary that includes not just everyday words, but also a large number of academic and specialised words as well. We use Steps to talk about the assessment results that learners get from the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool that is a requirement for most foundation level learners in tertiary training. E.g. “She got step 5 in Numeracy”.
  • Qualifications: The New Zealand Qualifications Framework talks about qualifications in terms of Levels on a scale of 1 to 9. For example, the qualifications that young people do often at high school in New Zealand – the National Certificate in Education Achievement (NCEA) starts at level 1 (usually year 11) and goes through to level 3 (usually year 13). The course that I teach is Level 5. A Masters level degree would be Level 8 or 9.

So that’s it. Here’s the short version:

  • ALLS Survey 2006 ==> Skill Levels
  • Learning Progressions and Assessment Tool Results ==> Steps
  • Qualifications ==> Qualification Levels

And if you are someone who needs to talk about any or all of these things, here’s what I suggest. You can help clear up other people’s confusion by doing the following:

  • If you have to talk about the ALLS Survey data or courses and qualifications and the context is not really clear, make sure you expand the word “Levels” to either “ALLS Skill Level” for the ALLS or “Qualification Level” for qualifications.
  • If you have to talk about Assessment Tool results or anything to do with the Learning Progressions, make sure that you use “Steps” and not “Levels”. As an alternative word altogether, you may also want to use the word “Koru” instead of Step. These are the little images down the side of the Progressions charts. For example, “She got koru 5 in Numeracy”.

Someone tell me if this makes sense…

12 Steps You Can Take to Disrupt Education

93-10-31-disrupt-logoI know, I know… you’d rather not. Nor would any of us really, but I’m working on a manifesto for disrupting education. This is not because I think I know how to do it, but rather because I think it’s inevitable and I want to set myself something to work towards.

These are some of the underpinning actions and ideas that I think underpin positive disruptive education models:

  1. Adopt a new business model. Despite their inertia, our old 20th century business models will not survive. This is especially true for any business model that relies on customers (or learners) just showing up. If you’re sitting around waiting for your customers or learners to show up you may as well shut the doors now and save yourself the pain later. By the way, this new business model probably involves the internet (which is the mother of all business models).
  2. Figure out who your customer really it. Who are you providing value for? In education this is complex. Are your learners paying you to create value for them? If not, who is paying you to do this work? It’s a problematic relationship in education. We at least need to ask the question. If you’re like me you have funders as well as learners and multiple layers of bureaucracy to appease.
  3. Develop amazing niche content. If our content is generic and boring it’s going to be dull to deliver and mind numbing for our learners. The hardest thing is to make it accessible to the target audience given our tendency to bludgeon our learners with our much larger vocabularies and subject area knowledge. That’s not even the problem… we usually don’t know we’re doing it.
  4. Work with a great (and small) team. Who can afford a large team these days? Small teams are great. Working with contractors rocks. The tools for working and collaborating over distance and independent of geography are available and mostly free.
  5. Crush it with killer design. This should go without saying. But it doesn’t. In education we are guilty of some of the worst design sins ever committed. It doesn’t have to be that way. I think it’s worth setting our sights a whole lot higher than we have in education. I’ll spend money on a graphic designer or a professional photographer before I spent money on a website company these days.
  6. Help people get better at something. If we’re not doing this then what are we in education, let alone in business for.
  7. Get savvy. And by savvy I mean internet and technologically savvy. The new education tools are mainly digital. Actually, the new work tools for anything are digital. This is unavoidable. But I guess if you’re reading this I’m preaching to the choir. So tell your colleagues if you can stand the arguments that will inevitably start.
  8. Create social objects. Social objects are things that people can’t stop talking about. We want people to care about our stuff. And then share it with a bunch of other people. This means some of what you do has to be shareable.
  9. Iterate quickly. This is the difference between an innovative education provider and… one that’s going to struggle and die. The innovation cycle is well documented in industry and it works for education too. Change it.
  10. Deliver great experiences. Again, this should go without saying. But so much of education is not a great experience either for the learners or even for those doing the delivery of the content or assessment. Learning is not always easy and effortless. Sometimes it’s damn hard, but that doesn’t mean we can’t deliver a great experience.
  11. Start with the big picture. As educators we know this and teach it as a principle of adult teaching and learning. But we’re typically hypocrites. While we understand this academically, we don’t actually do it. Or we do it badly. We need to start with the big picture, then break it down, and then put it back together again.
  12. Get mean and get lean. Perhaps this should be at the top of the list. Education is hard work. Getting paid to do education is even harder. None of us will survive if we don’t pull out all the stops to reduce our large fixed costs and tighten up on everything else. The implications of this are uncomfortable to put it mildly.

What else can we do to disrupt education? What do you do? Let me know in the comments.