AbstractIn this paper it is argued that the theory and practice of standardsbased assessment within the context of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) has not been clearly articulated for teachers. The difficulty of specifying and promulgating standards in appropriate forms and the lack of clarity present in the support materials and training provided for teachers are examined. Through the analysis of an internally assessed Music Achievement Standard currently available in the NCEA, it will be argued that standards can be neither definitively described nor easily assessed, but that a credible standard is reliant on a number of components. It is the combination of these components that is significant if standards are to function effectively in summative contexts,
particularly for high stakes national qualifications. The support materials and training music teachers received during the introduction of the NCEA lacked clarity and this has resulted in a weak link in the chain of components required for a robust assessment system. Teachers need access to quality support materials and the opportunity for on-going professional development in relation toÂ standardsbased assessment.
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