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Terms of Reference - NZQA Review By SSC

New Zealand Qualifications Authority

Terms of Reference for Review by State Services Commissioner


The New Zealand Qualifications Authority ("NZQA") is a Crown entity established under Part XX of the Education Act 1989 "to establish a consistent approach to the recognition of qualifications in academic and vocational areas"(s247).

NZQA's functions include the administration of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and other school, trade and vocational assessment. In 2004, NZQA instituted a new Level 4 qualification, New Zealand Scholarship, to be the basis for the allocation of university scholarship awards.

Background to Review

New Zealand Scholarship was introduced at the same time as NCEA Level 3. The new Level 4 stand-alone qualification was designed to enable the award of scholarships on the basis of examination. Previously, scholarships had been awarded to the top 3 or 4 percent in University Bursary examinations.

Students sat the New Zealand Scholarship examinations in November 2004, and results were mailed to them in January 2005, and later made available on the NZQA website. The results showed a much smaller number of scholarships awarded this year than expected and widely differing achievement rates in different subject areas. The results gave rise to public concern about the administration of the new qualification, and its fairness to otherwise high achieving students.

The Associate Minister of Education has asked the State Services Commissioner to review the adequacy of the setting and management of the 2004 Scholarship examinations and, more widely, the performance of NZQA. The Minister's request is made under section 11 of the State Sector Act 1988.

Terms of reference

Scholarship examinations

1 To review the 2004 New Zealand Scholarship examinations with particular regard to:

1.1 whether the roles and responsibilities of the various agencies involved were clearly defined;

1.2 whether the identification and addressing of issues arising in designing and implementing the new system was adequate;

1.3 whether the processes to set and moderate the standards for the qualification were adequate;

1.4 whether the administration of the examinations against those standards, including review of the processes for setting, moderating, and marking the examination were adequate;

1.5 whether communication and guidance to teachers and students concerning New Zealand Scholarship were adequate;

1.6 any other matter which the reviewer considers relevant to the foregoing questions; and

2 To make recommendations concerning these matters.

NZQA's performance

3 Given the purpose and role of the NZQA to provide quality assured qualifications, to review how well the NZQA is undertaking its role in respect of the school sector qualifications, with particular attention to:

3.1 the governance, monitoring and reporting of NZQA performance;

3.2 the adequacy of NZQA capability including planning, systems and processes to undertake its role:

3.3 the nature and extent of the involvement of, and responsiveness to, key stakeholders in the decision-making of the NZQA;

3.4 whether and if so how the NZQA is providing professional leadership in examination processes;

3.5 any other matter which the reviewer considers relevant to the foregoing question.

4 To make recommendations concerning these matters.


The State Services Commissioner will appoint a suitable person or persons to carry out the review and to report to him, pursuant to section 25 of the State Sector Act.

Under section 25 of the State Sector Act, the Commissioner and persons he appoints under section 25(2) of the State Sector Act have the same powers to summon witnesses and to receive evidence as are conferred on a Commission of Inquiry by the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908.


The reviewer will report and make recommendations on:

- the questions concerning the introduction of the New Zealand Scholarship qualification by 29 April 2005, and

- the performance of the NZQA by 31 July 2005.

The two parts of the review have separate reporting dates to enable any findings and recommendations concerning the New Zealand Scholarship examinations to be taken into account, as far as will be possible, in the administration of the 2005 examinations.

V A (Tony) Hartevelt

Deputy State Services Commissioner

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