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Assessment in science

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides. Effective assessment benefits students, involves students, supports teaching and learning, is varied to suit the context and purpose, and is valid and fair.

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa expresses similar views in the section Ngā Ahuatanga Ako, under the heading Te Whakarite Aromatawai Whai Take (page 15).

Begin by identifying what your students already know and the big ideas of science that your students need to understand. Then, introduce scientific knowledge, skills, and attitudes in contexts which are relevant and familiar to the students and build on their understanding.

Resources supporting assessment for primary and secondary learners

The New Zealand Curriculum | Science

The New Zealand Curriculum sets the direction for science learning and provides a framework for your local curriculum.

Assessment Resource Banks  

Over 700 formative assessment resources for students working at levels 1-5 of the New Zealand Curriculum in English, mathematics, and science. Many of the assessment resources can be completed online, and many have an auto-marking function. The student tasks and the teacher information are based on New Zealand and international research, and informed by trials in schools.

The resources are free to New Zealand schools.

Building Science Concepts

The Building Science Concepts series is designed to help teachers in primary schools build students' understanding of science concepts. The books provide a structured approach to build students' understandings from simple to more complex scientific ideas, and relate those understandings to the world around them.

NZCER | Building science concepts

The Building Science Concepts books are listed on the Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) website with assessments for each "Big idea".

National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) | Science

The National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) monitors student achievement across the New Zealand curriculum at Years 4 and 8 in English-medium state and state-integrated schools. 

Downloadable practical supports for teachers:

  • Science toolkit for teachers of Year 7 and 8 students
  • Science guide for teachers
  • What children are learning in Science: A guide for whānau

NCEA standards alignment – science

The NCEA standards alignment science is for teachers working with students at years 11–13. Download assessment resources for internally assessed Level 1, 2, and 3 registered achievement standards, including resources for:

NZCER science assessment tools

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) has developed three tools to support the science learning of students in New Zealand schools. Two of these tools are standardised assessments which schools can subscribe to: 

The third tool is free to access:

The  Science Engagement Survey , a non-standardised survey for years 0–10. 

All three tools are available on NZCER Assist - New online platform for 2021 , an online service that enables students to sit NZCER tests online and provides schools with detailed analysis and reporting on student achievement.

NZQA and science

Access science subject resources for internal and external standards:

Curriculum and standards documents on these pages have links to standards, matrices, and teaching and learning guides on TKI.

For internally assessed standards these pages provide links to: clarifications, exemplars of student work, and assessment and evidence gathering templates.

NZQA | Standards  The Directory of Assessment Standards (DAS) lists all quality assured unit and achievement standards, known collectively as "assessment standards". 

Scholarships are offered in Earth and Space Science, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Agriculture and Horticulture. 

Science exemplars

The science exemplars are annotated pieces of students' work from levels 1 to 5. Each exemplar highlights students' learning needs and suggests next steps. Use exemplars to that let students reflect on their own work.

These exemplars relate to the curriculum levels and achievement objectives described in the previous New Zealand Curriculum, published in 1994. These, and the progressions of learning described, may not correspond with those described in the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum. Some links and videos within these exemplars may no longer work.