Year 9 – 11 Assessment

During the important years of 9 to 11 in our student’s education, they are entering a pivotal phase. This period is marked by the introduction to a range of subjects and the development of more advanced thinking skills. It involves focused and purposeful practice to enhance their ability to grasp subject-specific knowledge and acquire new skills.

Our Learning Progression Framework

Through ongoing and regular formative assessment, which we call ‘Checkpoints’, we can identify how students are progressing and provide meaningful feedback which is simple to understand and straightforward to act on. The learning language we use when reporting progress are Emerging, Developing, Proficient, and Advancing.

Understanding the merit of learning progressions during the years 9 to 11 phase of education is key to appreciating a student’s academic growth. Learning progressions offer a structured framework that maps out their development as they move through these critical years. By providing a clear roadmap, learning progressions empower educators to tailor their teaching methods to suit their students’ evolving needs, ensuring that they are consistently challenged and engaged at the appropriate level.

This personalised approach not only keeps students motivated but also fosters a sense of achievement as they witness their incremental progress over time.


Our Learning Progression Framework is underpinned by the thinking structure of SOLO Taxonomy. Solo Taxonomy (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes) provides a model for teaching and learning that has three levels of understanding;

  • surface understanding
  • deep understanding
  • conceptual understanding.

While NCEA Level 1 is a useful exit qualification in some schools, for many it is not the qualification that is of importance for our students’ pathways.

The current NZ Curriculum changes have provided schools across the country the opportunity to reconsider whether NCEA Level 1 is fit for purpose. Like many schools, Wellington College have decided to remove it and replace it with more learning time that is not driven by high stakes assessment and examinations, but more depth and rigour. We believe, through our excellent learning programmes and specialist teachers, that we will better prepare our students for the demands of NCEA Level 2.

It is important to remember that our aim is to ensure our students develop knowledge, understanding, and skills that lock into their long-term memory. Performance in examinations is not the same as genuine learning.

Removing NCEA Level 1 does not affect our accelerated programmes in Mathematics and Science. Students in Year 11 doing NCEA Level 2 will not receive Learning progressions, they will receive NCEA grades.

During a phase of learning (unit or topic), students are taught specific subject knowledge and embark on multiple learning activities to demonstrate what they can understand (conceptual knowledge), know (substantive knowledge), and do (procedural knowledge).

As students learn, teachers have multiple ways to evaluate the progress of students. These include observations, conversations, quizzes, tests, exams, performances, essays, project work, speeches, group activities and so on. All of these ways of demonstrating knowledge are important and will vary depending on the subject.

The Garden Analogy

Formative assessment is the equivalent of feeding and watering the plants appropriate to their identified needs – directly affecting their growth and development.

Summative assessment is the equivalent of measuring the plants. It may be interesting and important to compare and analyse measurements but, in itself, this does not affect the growth of the plants.

Learning Progressions provide an indication of the level of learning the student has demonstrated. They are based on the New Zealand Curriculum.