NCEA Literacy and Numeracy Standards - Questionnaire

Closed 18 Dec 2020

Opened 18 Nov 2020


You are asked to provide feedback on draft English-medium literacy and numeracy standards for the new NCEA literacy and numeracy co-requisite, as part of the NCEA Change Package.

At this time, we are looking at the draft English-medium literacy and numeracy standards and supporting materials. This feedback will help us to improve the standards and materials.

The English-medium standards align to the New Zealand Curriculum. We are also developing standards that align to Te Marautanga o Aoteaora (Māori-medium standards). Both the English-medium and Māori-medium standards can be used by any student in any setting.

There will be an opportunity to provide feedback on Māori-medium standards early next year. The Māori-medium standards are still in development.


Why your views matter

Why the change to literacy and numeracy in NCEA?

Literacy and numeracy are important foundational skills that ensure success in further learning across the curriculum, life, and work.

Throughout the engagement phase of the NCEA Review we heard from a range of people, including employers, teachers, parents, students, and tertiary institutions, that the current NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements are not robust. We also know through research commissioned by the TEC that as many as 40% of students with NCEA Level 2 may not have the literacy and numeracy skills needed to successfully navigate an information-rich world, as identified by the OECD.

We heard that we need a shared understanding of foundational literacy and numeracy that will set up learners well for their next steps.

The key change

  • New standards will directly credential literacy and numeracy, as a co-requisite to the qualification. This means students will need to pass the standards in order to receive the formal NCEA award.
  • There will be two sets of standards: one to support English language and one te reo Māori. Each will make up a coherent package of standards set at Level 4/5 of the Curriculum.
  • The tasks will be set and assessed by NZQA in order to keep the workload reasonable and ensure certainty of achievement.
  • Because the standards will support foundational levels of literacy and numeracy, the standards will be eligible for a grade of Achieved and no higher.
  • The standards will form a coherent package, worth 20 credits altogether. Those credits will not count towards the credit count for levels 1, 2, or 3.
  • The standards will be accessible from as early as Year 9.
  • The standards will become mandatory from 2023, as long as the sector is ready.

What is in the standards?

The English-medium standards will include reading, writing, and mathematics and the Māori-medium standards will include pānui, tuhituhi, reo-ā-waha, and pāngarau.

The standards will reflect the foundational literacy and numeracy required to navigate learning, life, and work. Foundational literacy and numeracy refer to knowledge and capabilities that are sufficient for young people to access further learning, develop life skills and engage in employment in their communities. In Aotearoa New Zealand, these include understanding how to participate in our bicultural society.

For the purposes of the new standards, foundational literacy and numeracy is approximately Level 4/5 of the New Zealand Curriculum, whereby a student has full control over level 4 and is ready to work at Level 5.  

There are a number of frameworks that help describe what this level is. This includes the Learning Progression Frameworks, Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT), and the Adult Learning Progression frameworks, which can all be located online. In relation to those tools, level 4/5 means:

  • Scale descriptors in the range 750–850 on the PaCT scale for Reading
  • Scale descriptors in the range 800-900 on the PaCT scale for Writing
  • Scale descriptors in the range 750-850 on the PaCT scale for Mathematics
  • Step four of the Progressions for Adult Literacy and upper step five of the Progressions for Adult Numeracy.

The development process so far and the products for your review

In 2019, a Technical Advisory Group made up of technical and sector experts told us what the level of the new standards should be and what they should include.

In 2020, writing and feedback groups worked with NZQA to draft the standards.

These groups drafted the contents of three products (each for literacy and numeracy) that we are now seeking your feedback on:

  • a Learning Matrix
  • the standard(s)
  • an “Unpacking” document

The products are derived from the Learning Progressions Frameworks, the Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy and Adult Numeracy, and are supported by technical work carried out by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

What next?

The feedback that you provide on this questionnaire will help us to refine the standards and materials to ensure they cover foundational literacy and numeracy. Your feedback will also give us direction on teaching, learning, and assessment.


The literacy and numeracy standards have been developed in a way that could be assessed by a digital adaptive tool if one is able to be developed. In the interim, students may be assessed using a Common Assessment Task (CAT).

Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Guidance

Additional materials to support teachers and leaders with implementation in schools and other settings will be developed. This will include teaching, learning, and assessment guidance, and readiness tool guidance.

We also encourage teachers and leaders to start considering how change might take place in your setting to support literacy and numeracy. There are a range of tools that can help teachers and leaders to support learners such as the Learning Progressions framework, PaCT, the Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, e-asTTle and PATs.

  • Leaders should begin to think about what literacy and numeracy support systems exist across your school and how you can lead a successful cross-curricular approach to teaching and learning.
  • Teachers and educators should begin to think about supporting literacy and numeracy in your own subject or learning area. Consider what diagnostic tools and supports could help you. 

In-school Pilots

A small number of schools, kura, and polytechnics will have the opportunity to pilot the standards that you provide your feedback on in Term 3 and 4 of 2021. Keep an eye out for another opportunity in mid-2021 to participate in a pilot of the standards in 2022.