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NCEA Must Go - Challenge to Mallard

NCEA Must Go - Challenge to Mallard

Wednesday 21 Aug 2002

The bureaucratic mush served by NZQA and Education Ministry representatives at a parents' meeting to discuss NCEA last night confirmed the new qualification must be dumped, ACT New Zealand Associate Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Top bureaucrats from NZQA and the Ministry of Education attempted to justify the nonsense of conducting this radical experiment which uses our children as guinea pigs. In the face of questions from around 100 parents at Wellington College, even the Ministry spokesman floundered and admitted that at times he "struggled" to understand the system.

"The whole thrust of the NCEA is to eliminate competition. Students are no longer ranked against each other but against a pre-determined `standard' dreamed up by committees. Consequently schools cannot be ranked. League tables - much hated by the politically correct - will go. Parents will end up with even less choice in their children's education.

"The NCEA is designed to undermine the brightest students by gleefully averaging their assessments to the lowest "credit", while acting as an esteem massager by telling the slowest or laziest students they have not failed, rather they simply "did not achieve".

"NZQA Spokesman Bill Lennox even confirmed that if students hand in a paper which "does not achieve", the teacher can go back to the student "and ask him what he really meant to say", thus pushing failure through the system.

"This patronising method of assessment is based on the false idea that academic success is everything. Ironically, Mr Lennox confirmed that evidence is needed when assessing anything, from buying a bottle of wine to choosing a car.

"What Mr Lennox and the Minister of Education can't - or won't - acknowledge is that as consumers we use competition every day to make choices. We compare one product with another, one service with the next, before we buy.

"The ideology behind NCEA is that choice and competition are dirty words. This is manifest in the elimination of national exams, chopping subjects into bits, forcing teachers to teach according to a warrant-of-fitness type curricula, and - most importantly - preventing students from outsmarting their peers.

"Glaringly, Education Minister Trevor Mallard has been absent from meetings with concerned parents. Given his intention to steamroll NCEA through next year, I call on him to accept a challenge to a public debate in front of parents, in which he can argue the merits of this flawed system," Miss Coddington said.

Letter:

Dear Mr Mallard

As Associate Education Spokesperson for ACT New Zealand, I last night attended a meeting at Wellington College for parents who are concerned about the NCEA.

The meeting provided a forum for representatives from the Ministry of Education and NZQA to attempt to placate fears within the community.

Instead, the representative from your Ministry admitted that even he "struggled" to understand the system.

I am very concerned at your plan to continue implementing the NCEA in the face of obvious and justified anger from teachers, parents and students.

As the bureaucrats have admitted they have "struggled" to understand NCEA, I do not believe they are the best people to attempt to allay the community's concerns.

Rather, I believe that you - as the chief proponent of this new qualifications system - are the best person to defend it.

Accordingly, I would like to challenge you to a public debate at a time and place of your choosing, where parents may attend to hear first-hand why you have introduced this system, and why you intend to continue with its implementation.

I do hope that you will agree to this request. It is my firm belief that parents deserve the opportunity to hear both your reasons for the continuation of NCEA, and evidence from myself and other parents who oppose this experiment.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely Deborah Coddington MP ACT New Zealand


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