Cook Islands Assessment Report final - Ministry of Education

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Cook Islands Assessment Report final - Ministry of Education Powered By Docstoc



     20-22 AUG 2012
The Cook Islands comprises 15 islands which are geographically distant from each other and are divided
into two groups of islands known as the northern and southern Cook Islands. The total population is
approximately 18,000 with the majority of people residing on the island of Rarotonga – the capital of the
Cook Islands.

Education in the Cook Islands is provided by government institutions. There are 31 providers, including
24 ECE centres (predominantly attached to primary and area schools), 11 primary schools, 4 secondary
schools and 15 area schools. Also included in this number are private schools (8), church schools (5) and
independent schools (3) (Ministry of Education Statistics Report 2012).

The Ministry of Education (MoE) identifies assessment as one of the key elements in education and
therefore has developed an assessment framework which involves a range of assessment approaches
and methodologies to suit the context and level of students.

Organisational Structure and Operations
The MoE’s vision for assessment is to enhance student learning through quality, valid and reliable
assessment tools which contribute to the effectiveness of the MoE and to quality education. These
assessment tools are developed and implemented at the strategic, school and tertiary levels. At the
strategic level, the information provided from assessment allows us to measure progress towards
national standards so that we can identify and respond to areas of risk. We are also able to track results,
plan the distribution of resources, identify internal efficiencies and enhance the effectiveness of

At the school level assessment information supports the development of partnerships between
teachers, students and parents as they work towards a common goal of improving student outcomes.
Assessment also allows students to provide evidence of learning in a manner best suited to their
individual learning styles. The information gathered from assessment enables us to measure the
effectiveness of intervention strategies.

At the national and regional levels, assessment information allows us to respond to the Cook Islands
National Sustainable Policy, the PEDF and EFA.

Assessment Documents
In the Cook Islands it is mandatory for all providers of education from ECE centres to secondary schools
to comply with the MoE’s Cook Islands Administration Guidelines (CIAGs). CIAG One focuses on seven
key elements of curriculum and delivery which include curriculum, assessment, barriers to students’
learning, inclusive education, language, careers education and secondary qualifications. CIAG Two
relates to documentation and review and incorporates strategic planning, self-review and reporting. It
is each school’s responsibility to develop a strategic policy which will consist of achievement goals for
the student population and documentation on how progress will be monitored.

Types of Assessment
The following table summarizes the various assessment tools used in our schools as governed by CIAGs
One and Two.

Assessment        Tool             Level     Content         Domain         Type      Frequency     Purpose
CI National       Gloss            Grade     Levels of the   Numeracy       One       Multiple      National/
Numeracy          (strategy);      3         CI Knowledge                   on        formative;    Individual
Monitoring        NumPa:                     and Strategy                   one       one           student
Assessment        Knowledge                  Frameworks                               summative     monitoring of
2x                & strategy                                                                        progression the
assessment                                                                                          NumPa
tools:                                                                                              Framework
CI National       Vaitoanga        Grade     Achievement     Literacy       One       Open-         National and
Literacy          Kite Tatau       4         Objectives of   English        on        ended         Individual
Monitoring        Maori            Grade     the CI          and Maori      one       formative;    student
Assessment        Grades 1-8       8 (1      Curriculum                               one           monitoring of
s – Maori         English-PM       year)     Framework                                summative     progress
and English       Benchmark
PAT (NZCER        CIPAT            Grades    Achievement     Literacy –     Multi     Annual        National
contextualized)   Reading/         6 and 8   Objectives of   English        Choice    Summative     monitoring
                  Comprehen-                 the CI
                  sion                       Curriculum
PAT (NZCER        CIPAT            Grades    Achievement     Literacy –     Multi     Annual        National
contextualized)   Listening/Com-   6 and 8   Objectives of   English        Choice    Summative     monitoring
                                             the CI
PAT (NZCER        CIPAT            Grades    Achievement     Literacy –     Multi     Annual         National
contextualiz      Vocabulary       6 and 8   Objectives of   English        Choice    Summative      monitoring
ed)                                          the CI
PAT (NZCER        CIPAT            Grades    Achievement     Mathe-         Multi     Annual         National
contextualiz      Mathematics      6 and     Objectives of   matics         Choice    Summative      monitoring
ed)                                8         the CI
PILNA             Literacy and     Grades    Regional        Literacy       Read-     Summative      Regional
                  Numeracy         4 and 6   Benchmark       (English)                (3 year        monitoring
                                                             Numeracy/                rotational)
Assessment       Tool           Level     Content         Domain   Type     Frequency      Purpose
NCEA             Standards-     Years     Achievement     Varied   Inter-   Annual         Qualifications
(NZQA) NZ        based          11-13 –   Objectives of            nal      Summative      and National
National         assessment -   NCEA      the NZ                   and                     Monitoring;
Assessment       Achievement    L1-L3     Curriculum               Exter-                  Access to
                 Standards                Framework                nal                     Tertiary
                                          and                                              Education
                                          Criteria of
                                          Unit and
NZ National                     Post-     Performance     Varied   Inter-   Summative      Individual
Qualifications                  Secon-    Criteria of              nal                     tracking and
                                dary      registered               and                     qualifications
                                          Industry                 Exter-
                                          Based                    nal

Assessment in the Cook Islands is funded by both the local Cook Islands government and development
partner funding agencies and aligns with the measurement of achievement against the goals of the EMP
(as reflected in the annual Business plan and medium term Statement of Intent and NSDP).

The Learning and Teaching Division of the MoE is responsible for assessment. The Division develops,
administers and gathers the data for statistical analysis; however, national monitoring is the
responsibility of the Planning and Development Division of the MoE. The Ministry also ensures that the
assessments administered serve their intended purpose and therefore the following procedures for
quality assurance have been implemented:

     -    NZQA Quality Assurance – Internal moderation and external moderation
     -    Managing National Assessments (MNA) visits by NZQA
     -    School quality assurance audits (review team, MoE)
     -    NZ Council of Educational Research, Wellington NZ, for the PAT assessment
     -    Principals of schools together with the Literacy and Numeracy advisors for MoE

Reporting on information received from assessment is a key priority for the MoE to ensure
accountability and transparency. The MoE ensures that these reports are disseminated to various
stakeholders in various documents including the annual MoE Statistics Report; MoE Annual Reports;
Individual Schools’ Annual Reports; Ministerial Reporting; Public Service Commission Biannual
Reporting; Development Partners’ Reports; Individual Students’ Records of Learning, and Regional and
International Reporting.

Results are disaggregated according to the audience and the purpose of the report. In general,
geographic and gender comparisons are also evident in the report. Raw data is collected, analysed and
presented in the form of tables, graphs and qualitative narratives, and is used for longitudinal tracking
against the targets of the EMP. Internally, reports are used for their intended purpose (as mentioned
earlier) with relevant reports also available on the MoE website (
Assessment Initiatives
With any assessment tool the student’s context is a significant element for consideration. Therefore in
2010, the MoE contracted the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) to develop
Progressive Achievement Tests (PATs) in literacy and numeracy contextualized for our students’
environment. These tests were invigilated by MoE and designed in such a way that no question will be
repeated for at least five years to avoid assessment directed teaching. The purpose for the shift in
approach was to provide rigour, reliability, validity and benchmarking against comparable cohorts in
New Zealand, as well as strengthen the reliability of the data gathered for informed decision making.
The training of teachers on how to use the data is also one of the Ministry’s initiatives to improve
practice and students’ outcomes.

The PILNA is also a new assessment tool to be administered in the Cook Islands this year. As part of this
new initiative, and considering the students’ context, MoE has recommended that the Year Four paper
be translated into the vernacular language. The training of the markers will also take place to ensure the
reliability of the data.

What is Working Well?
The information received from our assessments has provided improved longitudinal tracking and has
also increased the reliability of assessment data. As a result of this, the monitoring of students’
performance has improved significantly.

Issues and Challenges
The Cook Islands MoE faces some challenges in its assessment system. The isolation of some schools,
especially those in the northern group islands, can be a challenge due to the unavailability of regular
transport and poor internet connection and capacity. This makes it harder for the MoE both to
communicate and to travel to these islands to administer the assessments. The effects of depopulation
in the northern group islands and the small sample sizes can distort the national statistics and therefore
analysis and interpretation of data must take this into account.

At the school level, the MoE does not have evidence of teachers using student centred assessments as a
focus to improve learning. We also face the challenge of recruiting teachers and TVET tutors with NZQA
standards based assessment experience – a requirement if we are to continue offering New Zealand
national qualifications.
Way Forward
 -   Shift to pedagogically based advisors rather than subject based advisors
 -   Dual pathways – opportunities to access two qualifications simultaneously
 -   Multi level studies
 -   Enhance school/employer relationships and partnerships
 -   Better preparation for the work force
 -   Improved parental and community confidence in the education system
 -   PQRS provides opportunities for comparability between regional countries
 -   Targeting qualifications to future career pathways
 -   Collaborative partnerships with industry and training organizations eg internships
 -   Ongoing professional development for teachers in using statistical data to improve teaching and

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