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Scholarship 2005 will reward NZ's best students

4 November 2005

Scholarship 2005 will reward New Zealand's best students

The Qualifications Authority has released details of how changes to New Zealand Scholarship will affect students sitting the country's top exams this year.

Qualifications Authority Acting Chief Executive Karen Sewell says Scholarship exams, which start on Monday 14 November, will recognise and reward the best and the brightest students in each subject.

"Scholarship requires high-level critical thinking. This year's exams will still challenge even the most able students with only the best attaining Scholarship.

"Last year, in some subjects, large numbers of students attained Scholarship and in other subjects very few did. This year, there will be more certainty around the results.

"In each subject, it is our intention that 3 per cent of year 13 students studying that subject at level 3 will be awarded Scholarship, if they reach the standard. A new marking process is being used to identify those top students.

"There will inevitably be some subjects that are exceptions to the 3 per cent, particularly where small numbers of students are involved. For these instances, a discretion of plus or minus five students will be applied."

The intention to award Scholarship to 3 per cent of students is based on the advice of the Scholarship Reference Group and the Scholarship Technical Advisory Group.

"People can have confidence in the integrity of Scholarship. The Qualifications Authority has listened to what parents, students, teachers, principals and the Government have said. We will deliver to their expectations. Early next year we will be listening again about how we can make it even better in future years," says Karen Sewell.

The results package received by students in February next year will include an explanation about the marking system. Students will know how they performed compared with the other students in that subject. Schools have already been advised of the marking process.

More than 6,500 students have enrolled for Scholarship exams.

Note: A background paper giving more detail is available on www.nzqa.govt.nz/scholarship

ENDS

Frequently asked questions and answers

What is the purpose of Scholarship exams?
Scholarship exams are designed to challenge, identify and recognise the country's top students, and provide them with monetary rewards. Scholarship requires high-level analytical skills and critical thinking. It is hard and will test the most able students.

Why are there changes to Scholarship?
A number of changes have been implemented to ensure the integrity of Scholarship. These changes include recommendations from the Government based on the advice of the Scholarship Reference Group, and feedback from the education sector, and parents and students.

How will Scholarship be different this year?
The most significant change is that it is our intention that 3 per cent of year 13 students studying each subject at level 3 will get Scholarship, if they reach the standard that has been set. There will be some tolerance around the intended 3 per cent. This tolerance will be applied with advice from the Scholarship Technical Advisory Group.

What does 'studying the subject at level 3' mean?
The intended 3 per cent is based on the number of year 13 students who are attempting 14+ credits of the subject at level 3 in unit and/or achievement standards (internally or externally assessed).

How will those changes impact on the results?
The results will be more predictable and consistent because there is a clear intention of the percentage of students studying the subject will be awarded Scholarship.

Will this process be applied to all subjects?
Yes, but in small subjects, while 3 per cent remains the intention, the Scholarship Reference Group recommendations allow for discretion of plus or minus five students in such cases.

What has the Qualifications Authority got in place for those subjects where too few students reach the standard?
Where too few students reach the standard, fewer Scholarships will be awarded in that subject. To ensure that these decisions are fair to the students, we will take advice from the external experts before determining the cut-off point..

How will the top 3 per cent of students be identified?
The marking process has changed. Each question in the Scholarship exams will be marked on a nine-point scale, 0 – 8, with 8 being a superb performance. From a total of these marks, the student's work is ranked and placed into categories of performance. The students in the top categories of each subject will be awarded Scholarship.

Will the exams themselves be different?
As was the case last year, Scholarship exams will be hard. They are for the most able students. It's the mechanism of the marking process that's different.

When do students get the results?
Students' results will be released towards the end of February 2006.

Does the timing of the Scholarship results affect entrance to University?
No. Entrance to University is determined by NCEA results. Scholarship provides recognition and reward to top students, it is not an entrance qualification.

Will students receive details about their level of performance?
Students will know how they performed compared with other Scholarship students in that subject. Feedback will be provided on the Scholarship papers, which will be returned to students with their results.

Do you have to sit all three subjects in the one year to get the top prizes?
Yes. To be eligible for the awards for three Scholarship subjects, the student must attain Scholarship in each of the subjects in the same year.

Can you compare this year's figures with last year?
The process for marking and awarding Scholarship is completely different this year. There is no relationship between last year's figures and those for 2005.

Can students still enrol for Scholarship?
Students should get in touch with their school if they haven't yet enrolled. We will do what we can to make it possible for them to sit the exam.

How much money will be given out in Scholarships?
This year, it is expected that $1.8 million will be distributed.

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