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National Certificate Balanced and Realistic


6 July 2000 Immediate Release

Ministry: National Certificate Balanced and Realistic

The new National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) has to have a realistic balance of external and internal assessment, according to the Ministry of Education.

Too much internal assessment would overload teachers and concern the public, says Tim McMahon, the Ministry's project manager for qualifications development.

The NCEA will be phased in for all senior secondary students from 2002.

"Under National Certificate, any school learning that can be validly assessed in an external examination will be. At least 50% of all conventional learning will be externally assessed," says Tim McMahon.

He was commenting on a paper published by Professor Cedric Hall of Victoria University which said NCEA represented a poor compromise between internal assessment and external assessment.

Professor Hall said the most reliable way to assess any educational standard was to blend long-term internal assessment with external assessment.

"That would be ideal, but in the real world it's just not possible," says Tim McMahon.

"Large scale internal assessment heaps horrendous workload pressures on teachers. As well, the public remains suspicious about comparability and fairness with internal assessment. So you have to replace a lot of internal assessment with external examinations," he explained

"Our NCEA system recognizes that there are many important education outcomes that simply can't be measured in examinations. For instance, laboratory work in science, speaking in English and other languages, and so on. So you have to have at least some internal assessment.

"The NCEA will be a big step forward for New Zealand qualifications in the way it assesses and reports on a much wider range of students' skills and abilities," says Tim McMahon.

"Professional development and national moderation systems will help to ensure that teachers have common expectations that go a long way to ensure comparability and remove reliability concerns.

"Professor Hall's findings are not new. Lack of reliability has always been an issue with external written examinations. But examinations are considered rigorous and stretching and the public accepts the results." ENDS Enquiries: Tim McMahon Project Manager Qualifications Development Group Phone 04 471 0664 Email

Education Reporters / Chief Reporters You can obtain detailed information about the NCEA on the Ministry of Education website at:

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