Internationally, as adolescent learners move into higher stakes assessments their influence on selection and interpretation of assessment declines, despite their increasing capacity for self-regulated learning. Equity and access issues are implicit in New Zealand National Standards data for Years 7 and 8 (aged 11-13 years) students. Data analysis reveals the percentage of students in this age group achieving ‘at’ or ‘above’ the National Standard is, on average, 8% less in writing and 9% less in mathematics compared with students from Years 1-6. Concerns are raised about the accuracy and appropriateness of the assessments, as well as the alignment of curriculum, pedagogical content knowledge and assessment practice. National Standards in New Zealand are based on overall teacher judgments (OTJs) in which teachers aggregate data from a range of sources (informal and formal assessments) to judge students’ achievement in reading, mathematics and writing in relation to prescribed National Standards (NS), derived from The New Zealand Curriculum (2007). Results of OTJs are submitted to the Ministry of Education towards the end of the academic year (November). Although this system respects teachers’ professionalism and validity of classroom assessments (Poskitt and Mitchell, 2012), it has omitted formal input of learners. Gathered primarily for summative assessment purposes, in order for the Ministry of Education to ascertain shifts in achievement for groups of students (by year level, gender, ethnicity, region, socio-economic level, diverse and special needs), and determine national initiatives for improvement, National Standards data also serve accountability and potentially formative assessment purposes. Accountability concerns caused considerable angst amongst teacher unions during the implementation phases of NS in schools, particularly for schools situated in lower socio-economic areas, or containing higher proportions of students of Māori, Pasifika descent, or students with English as a second language; all of whom have traditionally performed below other student groups. Apprehension about implications for potential league tables, labelling students, possible teacher performance pay and resource allocation to schools in accordance with NS results prevail. Using NS for formative assessment purposes, at classroom, school and system level is occurring sporadically. Whilst national attention has focused on equity issues related to achievement of students of Māori or Pasifika descent, achievement levels of Years 7 and 8 students have not been the subject of widespread educational or political debate. These adolescent students are not achieving at a level comparable with other school year levels. Social justice necessitates investigation of possible reasons and actions to overcome unfairness to enable equitable access to educational resources. A range of possible factors are briefly examined at system level such as curriculum and NS expectations, primary teacher preparation and professional learning in aggregating assessment information. Student level factors are explored, with particular attention given to alignment of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment to adolescent student needs; and the role of student voice. It is argued assessments are misaligned for this age group, creating inequities of access. Adolescent learners deserve to have their voices listened to and heard through learner participation in the equitable interpretation of assessment information. The NS system needs to be given a jolt to transform OTJs to JOLT (judgments [from] overall learner and teacher [deliberations], thus authorising learner views. Internationally, social justice requires adolescent learners have a right to access and active participation not only in self-regulated learning but also the assessment of such learning, particularly in higher stakes summative assessments.