Numeracy 32406 – our pilot adventures

23 May 2022 UPDATE: We have tidied up our Starters to use with our Year 10s this year (here). Further info about these is below.

We were fortunate enough to be a pilot school for the new Numeracy standard 32406 in 2021. We are piloting again this year (2022) and I thought sharing what we’re up to might be useful for others.

Useful links

Our context

Here’s our beautiful new Maths & Stats block that we moved into about a year ago now šŸ™‚.

Cashmere High School – Te iringa o Kahukura We are a large (~2150 students), co-educational, decile 9 state school situated in southern Christchurch. Overall, our students are great and we have awesome staff with a strong relational teaching philosophy. As both a school, and a community, we have had a tough run over the last decade or so but the school is looking superb with our significant earthquake re-build projects now completed.

Our Year 9 learning programme has three teaching periods a week and is based around students mastering curriculum level (CL) 4 and starting CL5. Our Year 10 learning programme is based around students mastering CL5. As a school, we only piloted the Numeracy standards in 2021 (both Numeracy and Literacy are being piloted in 2022). The table shows that our Year 10s have been going pretty well over the last few years.

Our initial thinking

We wanted to assess these co-requisites with our Year 10 students as we think this is what is likely to happen moving forward with the NCEA change programme – having an opportunity for students to have their Numeracy (and Literacy) co-requisite box ticked before starting on their NCEA Level 1 adventures seems a sensible choice.
Our teaching and learning (T&L) programme in Year 10 is aimed at mastering CL5 – the Numeracy standard is assessing at CL4, starting CL5 so our theory was that the Numeracy standard should just fall out of our current programme. Yes, we had to keep reminding our teachers that the Numeracy standard was NOT our T&L programme – its an easy trap to fall into, especially when the published materials use phrases like “Learning Matrix“.
When multiple assessment times are available – we are thinking we will run ONE assessment opportunity for our Year 10 students, in the end of year session (end of term 3?), then use the other sessions throughout the year for senior students who have not passed their Numeracy.
We did enter ALL our Year 10 students, including our Learning Support classes – information from MOE seems to be around only entering students when they are ready but we know our students can surprise us. Our default was to enter all students, and then withdraw those that it would be detrimental to them, for whatever reason, if they weren’t ready to sit.
Note that for the pilot Not Achieve grades were NOT recorded, so entering students who were borderline was low risk; exposing these borderline students is potentially a positive learning experience regardless of outcome because it will build familiarity – not just with the Numeracy Assessment but with NCEA as a whole (because most haven’t experienced it yet).

Important note here…

We have designed (and are sharing) what works for OUR context – what will work in YOUR context might be quite different, especially if your Year 10 students are not YET mastering CL5 by the end of the year. Please keep this in mind – how to get students mastering CL5 by the end of Year 10 is a whole different conversation!

NOTE NOTE – having a really good handle on what each curriculum level looks like is super-important. We spent time as a faculty unpacking this with our curriculum elaborations again last year – don’t just assume because you’ve done it once with your staff a few years ago that they will all remember it! The curriculum elaborations are here.

Preparing our students

Our junior teaching and learning programme has been designed to reflect what we do in senior courses – it is “chunky” with topics often taught and assessed discretely – the Numeracy assessment covers all curriculum strands. Therefore we needed to keep reviewing other strands while adding new content to students’ ketes.

Short starter tasks were our strategy – we used some of our Accord day time to source and create them. The intent was that each set of starter questions would be skills-based and aim to have some questions at CL4 plus some questions that stretched students that needed it (or were more open-ended to allow for this). The questions should take about 5-10 minutes at the start of class. Starters for each day were based on the same strand, and teachers were encouraged to cycle through the sets but not doing the strand that was the main teaching content of the day.

This is an example of the notes of what starters I’d used when – this snip is from when our main topic was STATISTICS so I wasn’t using any Statistics starters in class.

This was our faculty’s first attempt at this sort of thing, and there were some good starters and some that missed the mark – either because they were the wrong curriculum level (too low OR too high), too long, nothing for extending out top students, confusing, tricky to do with a projected set of questions etc etc etc! We sourced our starters from a wide variety of places, and no – we weren’t any good at capturing where they came from sorry. As we develop things that can be shared without copyright things being an issue, we will. Watch this space…

23 May 2022 UPDATE: We have tidied up our Starters to use with our Year 10s this year (here). We have made a checklist for teachers to keep track of what they have used with their classes, how things went, and if handouts are needed etc. Please email me if you find any MAJOR issues! (we haven’t tested all of this year’s updates yet).

We spent all the class time from the start of Term 4 (about 6 or 7 periods) preparing with students preparing for the assessment – a strand per day, with some strands running across multiple days. I set up google docs with the content of the Numeracy standard, like this one. Students were assigned these docs and could work through them at their own pace, ticking things off the list when they had them sorted. We used lots of online resources,
our 2021 set is here if you want a look. (yes, we need to thank ManvsMaths for all his wonderful resources which are widely utilised in these docs! – I think I’ve updated all the links so they work, but just email if not.)

The assessment logistics

Keep in mind that we are a LARGE school, with 493 students entered this digital exam. Like the MCAT – we were given a timeframe where we had to do the assessment (a week), but all our students had to sit it at the same time.

PREPARATION – before the assessment

  • Students needed to log onto the NZQA website, and practiced/seen how to get onto the digital platform
  • Students needed to check that their device was compatible with the digital platform
  • We made sure as many students as possible had their own calculators!
  • We needed to train staff up on using the digital platform
  • We needed to enter students into rooms digitally so the supervisors could access these students
  • Sort our SAC students for reader/writers etc – because this was a computer-based assessment, we didn’t need writer/computer SACs, only readers (who worked from the paper copy)
  • Plan the logistics of the actual assessment! (this was BIG – those practical things like rooming and staffing and booking laptops and talking to our IT guys…)
  • We contacted home and made sure parents were aware the assessment was comping up, and were able to support their tamariki in bringing a fully charged laptop and/or their laptop charger to school

THE ASSESSMENT – on the day

  • We ran the assessment Period 4 & Period 5 Thursday afternoon, giving us a slot from 1.15 to 3.10 – remember the assessment is aimed so most students get through it in an hour but time shouldn’t be an issue for them.
  • Students came out of their normal timetabled classes to do this Numeracy assessment instead – staff of those classes were used to supervise the exam (the non-digital supervisor)
  • By giving ourselves a wide time buffer it meant we could reassure students who were struggling to get onto the platform, who had computer issues, who got thrown off the platform, and as staff we knew that if we took a few minutes getting these issues sorted it was fine.
  • Students were all asked to bring a non-computer something to do after they had finished, most students had.
  • We had 19 rooms of students, with two supervisors per room (a requirement of the digital exam, we tried three teachers between two rooms – this wasn’t really enough in some spaces, fine in others – it just depended where the issues popped up!)
  • Four floating staff to sort issues/loan laptops
  • There were physical papers available – these were used to solve some technology issues and for our SAC students

Reflections in terms of the actual running of the assessment…

  • Overall the digital platform seemed to handle the traffic, and our school network coped well.
  • We need to give more details to our exam supervisors (actively roving, lurking BEHIND the students so they can see screens etc), and emphasise that this is AN EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT so should be supervised with the same vigilance as our end of year exams.
  • Morning would be better for our students rather than the afternoon! We’re working on that for this year.
  • We need to encourage students to turn off screen pop-ups during the assessment – if they click anywhere other than the digital platform, including closing these notifications, they get thrown off the platform and staff need to let them back in.
  • The cost to the school in terms of staffing hours was significant

For this year

This year, we’re looking at doing things in a fairly similar way. We will review/re-write/tidy up our skills-based starters (yay, done). We would like to craft some starters nearer the end of each set that are more contextual, like students saw in the actual assessment (we’re working on these and will share once completed). We will review our preparation docs (the ones we used for in class revision just before the assessment) to ensure they have some contextual questions in there.

6 thoughts on “Numeracy 32406 – our pilot adventures

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey and resources with the new numeracy requirements. It is most useful and a comforting that our juniors are being prepared adquately for what lies ahead.
    Can I ask please what your student results were from the trial last year? How did the students fare? Were you happy with the results?

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    1. Hi Liz – our pass rate, from our year 10s who sat the assessment, was 88%. We were really happy with how our students went, though we were aiming for 90%! It’s been really positive this year, as we now have a significant proportion of our Year 11 cohort who already have the NCEA Numeracy box ticked.

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      1. Thanks Michelle. This is really great for you all! And also for us observers. Well done to you and your team. Thank you for your transpearancy around what you have done and how the students got on. It does help/reassure us!

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  2. Hi,
    Thank you so much for your reflections and well done putting the effort into ensuring your students had the These are super useful for other schools. I am wondering how you supported students with SAC requirements. Are students allowed pen and paper while they do the assessment if they want to do working out?

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    1. Hi Claire – where needed, our SAC students used the paper exam with a reader-writer. In the future, we are hopeful that the digital platform will have the audio enabled so students can manage the reader component themselves.

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  3. This is great! Thanks Michelle for putting all these together. These help and guide other schools in planning for the new Numeracy and preparing the students for this. Well done for your hard work!

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