'In Art It’s Just That There is No Right or Wrong': Standards Based Assessment in Secondary School Visual Art Education - A New Zealand Experience

Kirsten Grant Price
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This paper presents the story of a multicultural group of New Zealand secondary school Visual Arts students and their experiences of the innovative and often controversial new qualifications system the National Certificate of Educational Achievement. Implemented in 2002, NCEA assesses student performance solely against written descriptors that detail standards.

The New Zealand Arts curriculum was launched in 2000 developed within a constructivist paradigm based on the assumption that knowledge is actively created rather than passively discovered. The Achievement Standards against which students are assessed are derived from this document.

Digital technology is used to let the students themselves tell their stories

“I take risks. I don’t care. Because in art it’s just that there is no right or wrong. If you make a mistake it doesn’t matter. Just try again to make it better”. (student, NCEA level 1, 14 years)

Supported by the New Zealand Curriculum framework, NCEA aims to produce students equipped to take their place in a society that is changing more rapidly than in any time in human history. Young people must now see knowledge as something dynamic and fluid, something that does things, or makes things happen. They must develop the personal qualities and skills that enable them to build networks, anticipate or create solutions whilst scanning a rapidly changing horizon. NCEA is the purported first step on the ladder of lifelong learning.

How then does learning in the New Zealand Visual Arts Curriculum equip these young people to fully participate in the desired knowledge society? What has been learned? Have they developed the ability to imagine, construct, reflect, to share ideas and transfer knowledge to other contexts? Does it offer them the opportunity to give voice to their personal and cultural identity?

Keywords: Standards Based Assessment, Constructivism, Knowledge Transfer, Written Descriptors
Stream: Arts Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: In Art it’s just that there is no Right or Wrong

Kirsten Grant Price

Lecturer/Facilitator and Secondary Visual Arts, College of Education, Victoria University Wellington
New Zealand

I work primarily as a lecturer to College of Education students and as a facilitator providing professional development to secondary teachers.
I have extensive experience as an assessor/moderator for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement.

Ref: A06P0423