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Blame the system, not teachers

9 February 2004

Blame the system, not teachers

Blaming teachers for discrepancies in the number of scholarships awarded for some subjects is passing the buck for a systems failure, says PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti.

She said teachers felt that they were flying blind for level 3 and scholarship last year because they weren’t adequately resourced to teach to them.

“NZQA and the Minister have said teachers weren’t teaching to the level required but NZQA provided no examples of what would merit a pass, let alone an outstanding level of achievement, at scholarship level.

“Teachers also couldn’t rely on previous Bursary exams because there were very few questions in those exams at an excellence level.

“The agencies and Government talk about raising the status of teaching but whenever there is a crisis, look at who they blame – the teachers.

“Trying to shift the blame for these anomalies to a place it shouldn’t be is pathetic.”

She also said PPTA and principals had warned NZQA last year that it was seriously concerned about the potential for huge variation in scholarship results.

Under Bursary and the previous scholarship, biology and calculus had been significantly scaled up most years. With standards-based assessment, examiners were now required to set an exam at the appropriate level of difficulty rather than relying on artificial scaling.

Te Whaiti said associate education minister David Benson-Pope’s move to introduce distinction awards was fine in the interim but “long-term we need to ensure that scholarship exams across all subjects are fair and consistent.

“This is one of a number of changes the Minister’s review of NCEA will need to make if people are to have confidence in this assessment system.”


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