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Further action needed on NCEA trouble spots

Media release
Wednesday 30 March

Further action needed on NCEA trouble spots

The Government must immediately address other complex problems with the NCEA now that a way forward has been proposed for Scholarship, says PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti.

Te Whaiti said PPTA commended the Scholarship Reference Group for its recommendations, which should improve the operation of Scholarship while retaining its link with standards-based assessment and with other levels of the NCEA.

But she said Scholarship was only one aspect of the qualifications system and affected a relatively small number of students.

“The same urgency and expertise must be brought to tackle the very real concerns teachers have raised over other aspects of the NCEA.

“Our research report Teachers talk about NCEA indicates that a majority of teachers believe the NCEA has the potential to be a better system.

“But the mood could easily change. It is incumbent on the Government, in consultation with the profession, to urgently fix the NCEA problems teachers have identified. That will cost money, but it will be money well spent.”

Among the areas teachers want addressed are:

- A review of the variability of exam results
Though teachers say NCEA internal assessment is generally delivering consistent results, they want external exams which are higher quality and more predictable, and which produce more consistent patterns of results from year to year.

- Better agency support & assessment resources
Teachers want the Qualifications Authority and Education Ministry to provide more high quality assessment resources, and to communicate changes to teachers in a way that gives them time to adjust their teaching programmes.

- Robust moderation
Teachers also want a more robust moderation system. The current model of practising teachers doing moderation work in their ‘spare' time and being under strict instructions not to communicate with colleagues whose work they are moderating to help them remedy defects found in their assessment is simply not working.

- More opportunities for NCEA professional development
They would also like more opportunities to share teaching ideas and knowledge through the kind of professional development days the Ministry provided from 2000 to 2003 to ensure that the curriculum, and not assessment, drives their learning programmes. Those days give teachers an opportunity to work with colleagues within their own schools and with colleagues in other schools, and enable them to share models of successful teaching, internal assessment and effective school-level practice in relation to guiding students in their career options.

- A review of the impact of NCEA on student motivation
Teachers in the focus group also felt some aspects of the design of the NCEA, such as the 80-credit requirement for the Certificate - might be causing some students to be less motivated. While the high and low achievers appeared to be more motivated by the new system, the students in the middle seemed content to get by with an ‘Achieved’ and not strive for ‘Merit’ or ‘Excellence’.

- A solution to the workload burden imposed by the NCEA
Teachers have struggled with the workload under the NCEA since its inception and solutions to the workload burden imposed by the move to school-based assessment need to be found.

- Funding that reflects the cost of NCEA delivery
The overall funding of secondary schools must reflect what it costs to deliver the NCEA. When teachers and principals say that operations grant funding does not reflect the continuing financial impact on schools of qualifications assessment, the Government and its agencies must sit up and listen.

“Whether the NCEA succeeds or fails depends on how the Government and its agencies face up to the problems that have been identified and find practical solutions to make this qualification work better for students and teachers,” Te Whaiti said.


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