Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


NCEA Flawed for Scholarship

9th February, 2005

NCEA Standards Based Assessments Fundamentally Flawed for Scholarship

"The recent public assurance employers were given by the NZ Qualifications Authority that the NCEA is always consistent between schools and over time is again blown apart," said Alasdair Thompson, Chief Executive of the Employers & Manufacturers Association.

"The scholarship exam results debacle is not just the consequence of throwing out scaling results this year. NCEA'S Standards Based Assessment is a fundamentally flawed measurement of achievement in academic subjects. Its flawed also because it is not possible to smooth aberration in a Standards Based Assessment System.

"Standards Based Assessments are appropriately used where the standard to be achieved can be clearly defined, such as in typing, bricklaying, music and sports. They are good for measuring a person's ability in clearly defined, narrow areas, such as multiplication tables.

"But, in NCEA, the knowledge required for academic subjects is complex and multi-dimensional and it is incredibly difficult to set standards for them. Hence the so-called standards are vague, fuzzy, ambiguous statements capable of many interpretations. They are not pre-tested for difficulty and they are not consistent from year to year.

"Knowledge-based subjects like English, Science, History, Geography and Economics simply do not lend themselves to this approach.

"Employers have expressed concerns and raised questions as have school principals and experts in measuring external results, but the Minister of Education and NZQA have been dismissing them.

"Maybe now, with this latest fiasco, the Minister of Education will listen and direct that the review of NCEA to be undertaken will look at its processes and results, and be reviewed by independent educational measurement experts to identify areas for improvement.

"Steadfastly defending the current standards based system by dismissing its critics as elitist and out of step with the PC concept that people's performance should not be ranked and the extent of their failures ever acknowledged, nor even reported, isn't in the best interests of lifting educational achievement in New Zealand, said Mr Thompson.

Additional points -

Objective assessment - not subjective assessment

Unit standards/achievement standards are appropriate where the evidence is clear and consistency between the assessors can be achieved with little or no debate.

Subjective assessments vary between individuals, overtime, in different locations, etc. Unless moderation techniques can, and are, used successfully

Variations between assessors produce distortions. Unfairness, unevenness and inconsistency enter the assessment process.

Unless eliminated or 'moderated', these inadequacies guarantee that the system will lose credibility and be rejected by the stakeholders.

This has happened to NCEA.

Suppressing criticism, stamping feet or bluster will not hold back the tide of rejection.

Review, identify inadequacies, apply remedials and redesign the process to achieve consistency, fairness, acceptance of the assessment process.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Preview: Your Heart Looks Like A Vagina By Dominic Hoey

Dominic Hoey’s one-man show Your Heart Looks Like a Vagina, is a dark comedy about the joys of living with autoimmune disease. This one man show will bring together Dominic Hoey’s long career as a performance poet and writer and the experimental theatre experience of Director Nisha Madhan.. More>>

Let The Games Begin: PM Sends Best Wishes To Athletes

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has sent her warm wishes to the New Zealand athletes preparing for the opening of the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast... More>>


Scoop Review of Books: Martin Edmonds' The Expatriates

This book is an extension of, and tribute to, the life’s work of James McNeish. Without sacrificing any degree of authorial independence, the result is gracefully written, handsomely produced, and likely to propagate many further works of its kind. More>>

Max Rashbrooke Review: The King's Singers and Voices New Zealand

To be good at one thing is impressive; to be so versatile across a range of genres is truly exceptional. More>>

Joe Cederwall Review: WOMAD 2018 - Harmony of Difference (part 1)

A friend described WOMAD as his “favourite white middle class celebration of diversity.” There is certainly an echo of truth to this as the crowd is still largely white and middle class, but this WOMAD for me represented that a better world is possible ... More>>

Harmony of Difference (part 2)

Top international world music artists seldom make it down to this neck of the woods, so for those of us into this sort of thing WOMAD is certainly a welcome addition to the cultural calendar. Now it is a case of waiting and looking forward to seeing what they manage to conjure up for next year. More>>

Howard Davis Review: A Bigger Splash - Te Papa Celebrates Twenty Years

Considering the available resources, this is a decidedly hit-and-miss affair, mainly due to some highly questionable curatorial decisions. In their overweening wish to "push boundaries," Charlotte Davy and Megan Tamati-Quennell have made a number of serious miscalculations by ignoring a basic rule - keep it simple. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland