Leadership Guide for PAT/subject testing

Welcome to NZCER Assist


Welcome aboard our online testing platform - NZCER Assist for PAT assessments (including the new PAT: Mathematics Refreshed version), STAR, Science: Thinking with Evidence (Junior and Senior), Te Reo Māori and surveys


Some exciting features of our user-friendly platform include:

  • The flexibility for both online testing and entering data for paper-based testing.
  • Annual subscriptions - this means flexibility in choosing subjects for purposeful assessment.
  • The ability to complete an SMS upload each term. This will create assessments, classes, and tokens for online assessments within minutes, saving you completing this task manually.
  • Teachers being able to have their own individual accounts, be assigned to their classes, administer tests and view reports. This user account can also be transferred when moving schools.
  • The ability to easily download student statistical data into a CSV file and then import this into your SMS system.


Step 1: Set up the Admin role

Appoint an Admin (can be you) to oversee the operational requirements of your NZCER Assist site. Follow the steps to Create an account for a new User. To ensure they/you have the Admin Role, CLICK on the USERS (lefthand menu, SELECT Edit Profile icon (far right) and adjust the User’s role. Ensure the User has access to the Step by Step Administrator’s Guide.


Step 2: Subscription

Subscribe for the assessments and surveys that you wish to use for the current calendar year. There is no upfront payment as an invoice will be issued at the end of each month based on the school's level of activity or usage. Assessing students may proceed immediately.

Choosing assessments  can be thought about in two ways:

  1. Baseline data – this is your regular review to check on the health of the teaching and learning in subject areas. EG: once a year, or Year 9/10 and Intermediates may choose three times over the two years. Positioning students and monitoring progress feeds discussion for teacher capability, PLD needs, and evidence-based forward planning.
  2. Focused data source – Annual goals, PLD focus change therefore focused use of data will change. This data is to prompt discussion for teachers, middle leaders, and SLT, and to eventually provide two timepoints to measure progress, and analyse impact of programmes, PLD, goals/targets during self-review i.e. what worked, what didn’t, for whom, and why? Remember, PAT progress can be the result of improving pedagogy, culturally sustaining PLD.


Step 3: Understanding the Scale Score

  1. Teachers and middle leaders need to understand how the subject scales work. Accuracy in testing and valid interpretation of reporting is based on a crucial understanding of the scale scoreQuestion difficulty and student scores are placed on the scale that aligns broadly with the NZ curriculum levelsThere are average scale positions and average scale progress benchmarks for each year level (national reference data)Stanines can only be calculated using the student’s scale score and year level. For more information/PLDWorkshops: education.adviser@nzcer.org.nz 



Step 4: Differentiation of testing

Choosing the appropriate test for highly capable students and/or struggling students is important to ensure the most accurate assessment of what a student can and can’t do. The scale score range runs through all tests, therefore student scores in the same year level can be compared. Testing that is too easy may produce a ceiling effect – student scale scores will be capped by question difficulty. Testing that is too hard may produce a flooring effect – student scale scores will be lowered as they can’t answer enough questions for an accurate scale score.



Step 5:Administration of Testing

For PAT testing to be an accurate snapshot of student scale position or progress against national benchmarks, tests must be administered in a standardised way, therefore accurate timing is essential. Ensure teachers understand timing is critical for scores to be accurate.


Leadership’s role is to ensure students have  optimal testing conditions to allow them to get the best result   - devices charged, teachers prepared, calm, suuportive environments, no disruptions.

Online testing - Ensure teachers are familiar with the Tips for online testing so that students are supported for best results. Staff need to preview the DEMO online test to ensure quick response for  student queries when testing.  Teachers must realise they are involved – reading out example questions, controlling fixed timing (times on whiteboard etc). The tests do not timeout. Reports will be available immediately.

Paper Testing – Follow the steps for ordering paper tests – allow 1 to 2 weeks. Ensure teachers have the guidelines for administering paper tests.

Reader/Writer - there are special conditions for some subjects. NB: Reading Comprehension, Reading Vocab, and STAR are assessments of independent student reading. If you want to test comprehension (EG ESOL, dyslexia) use the Listening Comprehension test. If you want to test independent Reading Comprehension, choose the test at the students actual reading level. NB: Not all students need to sit a PAT - there are other ways to determine knowledge & skill.



Step 6: Understanding the Reports

Reports are provided in two locations:

  • Dashboard – a range of reporting, based on the scale,  can be found here class by class and is designed for individual teachers

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  • Reports (left-hand menu) – a range of reports that provide position and progress for  whole school, year group, multi-year group, single or multi-test reporting and individual Learner progress for each subject and year group tested. 


Three tabs provide a range of reports under Aggregated Report, Learner Progress, Progress over time. 

Use the filters on the right to  refine the cohort by employing the gender, ethnic, year level and class filters. Each report provides national reference data in brackets: Term 1 mean scale scoresboxplot scale measures,


Aggregated Report – use the filters to identify subject, timepoint and test under investigation. Choosing one test at a time  will provide an Item Report (not for Adaptive tests) to review subject content knowledge for students who sat the test.

Learner Progress – use the filter to quickly find an individual’s progress report

Progress over time – use the filters to choose subject and then two time points – across or within years, whole school or specific year groups. Use the filters on the right to Create Groups-  gender, ethnicity, class, clean data etc.   3 groups can be displayed together.

Strategic Planning - contact one of our Education Advisers for advice and guidance in using your results strategically for focused improvement of teaching and learning in your school:  education.adviser@