NMSSA 2019 English: Making meaning Publications
This report is designed to support the teaching of English in primary and intermediate classrooms. It draws on insights generated from the assessment of the English learning area by the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) in 2019. The report focuses on the making meaning strand of the English learning area. It is complimented by a separate report that considers insights associated with the creating meaning strand.
The report is organised into two parts:
- Part 1 briefly introduces NMSSA and the NMSSA assessment of the making meaning strand.
- Part 2 presents insights about teaching and learning associated with making meaning across reading, writing, and viewing in English.
Author(s): Educational Assessment Research Unit and New Zealand Council for Educational Research.
Date Published: March 2021
To assess the English learning area in 2019, the NMSSA project team developed a multi-part assessment focused on the two English strands – making-meaning, and creating-meaning. The assessments included multi-choice and short answer questions, extended response items, one-to-one interviews, and individual and paired performance tasks.
Central to the study of English are literary texts (fiction and creative non-fiction) which use language in aesthetic, imaginative and engaging ways to entertain, engender emotion, express identity and invite reflection. The NMSSA study focused on student interpretation and creation of written, oral and visual language ‘literary’ texts. This included interpretation of extracts of fiction texts (such as novels, short stories, plays, poems, picture books) presented in different forms (print, audio, static image, film) and creation of written, spoken and visual texts with an emphasis on purpose and audience.
Making meaning of text in the English learning area involves making inferences, predictions, hypotheses, and evaluations supported by evidence from the text. This meaning-making process may involve considering alternative views based on the evidence and changing or rejecting one’s initial view as a result. What follows is an analysis of student capacity to form and communicate evidence supported inferences, predictions, hypotheses, or evaluations in response to text across a range of viewing, listening, and reading tasks. Each section begins with a description of the text and the task followed by an analysis of the student responses.
When making meaning in the English learning area, students need to consider not just what a text is saying (its ‘content’), and why (its social purpose or function), but also how authors and designers construct meaning for certain purposes and audiences (its form). This involves attending to the language or design features, the structure, and the organisation of the text. In written text, devices such as repetition, rhetorical questions, imagery, alliteration, personification, metaphor, and simile are used to achieve certain effects, as are vocabulary choice, sentence structure, and paragraphing. The use of these language features can also be found in oral text, along with the use of intonation and prosodic features such as pitch, volume, tempo, and rhythm. Similarly, in visual texts design techniques such as the use of line, colour, perspective, foregrounding, and backgrounding are used to achieve certain effects. What follows is an analysis of students’ capacity to identify how the language or design features of a text support the purpose of the text and contribute to the meanings which can be made of it. Each section begins with a description of the text and the task, followed by an analysis of the student responses.
Where to find out more
Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data then please contact us at:
Email: Requests EDK
Phone: +64 4 463 8065