19 August 2004
Principals’ Council throws weight behind NCEA
It would be a big mistake to question the whole NCEA system just because of an aberration at Cambridge High School, according to the Principals’ Council.
Chairperson Don McLeod said the NCEA, now in its third year, had presented a huge change to the secondary school qualification and assessment structures. However, despite increased workload and administrative burdens, schools had managed to implement the system with very few problems.
“No change of this magnitude could be perfectly implemented, and we don’t pretend that there are not some concerns to be dealt with,” Mr McLeod said.
”However, as has always been the case, the high level of trust in the professionalism and expertise of those in schools is very well placed – the overwhelming majority of students are being well prepared and well taught in secondary schools everywhere in New Zealand, and they can have absolute faith in their qualifications.”
Mr McLeod said the integrity, ethics and professionalism of teachers in relation to examination systems had not suddenly changed with the advent of NCEA.
“We have always expected and achieved a higher standard of performance in the administration of our national examination and assessment systems than might be acceptable elsewhere, precisely because these directly concern young people’s futures. Nothing in this regard has changed.
“NCEA can provide far richer diagnostic assessment information than the old School Certificate system could, and still mark the level of achievement of any given student so that employers can see what they have in front of them in a job application.
“Even at Cambridge there is no suggestion that the whole assessment system is failing – rather there has been a failure to meet required levels of administrative process in one part of that school’s procedures.
“We should always be on the lookout for such situations and deal with them when they arise.
“But rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater we should use the Cambridge example to ensure we follow proper processes in all schools.
“Honesty, integrity, professional and ethical behaviour are essential characteristics for schools and the people in them, as they have always been.”