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Did School Pass Kids For Picking Up Trash?

Did School Pass Kids For Picking Up Trash?

Friday 4 Jul 2003 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Education

ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington today said that the NCEA's rock-bottom credibility would drop even further, if there were truth in the allegation that at least one school deliberately passed children who should have failed.

"I'm very concerned by the experience of one former Cambridge High School student, who told the Education Weekly newspaper that:

`In the last four weeks of the last term in 2002, the school was getting the people in who were not going to pass level one [of NCEA] and gave them the chance to pick up litter for an hour so that they could get the extra credits that they needed to get to pass the year.'

"The student says, `there were many cases like this around the school'.

"Cambridge High had a 100 percent pass rate for NCEA Level One. Education Minister Trevor Mallard must tell us why that didn't raise alarm bells - and he must explain what work his Ministry is doing to check the student's story.

"Cambridge High principal Alison Annan has long been a proponent of NCEA. In an online newsgroup, she told a parent who complained her daughter was an NCEA `guinea pig' that:

"It is high time we stopped criticising and blaming, and got on with things. Calling a child a guinea pig is not helpful or encouraging. Our pass rate for our internal standards has vindicated our belief that students previously who would have left school with no qualifications, have blossomed, and quickly understood, and enjoyed, the accumulation of credits. Maori students have been able to gain credits to a level of achievement in the past we have only dreamed about. It is clearly a system that will upskill New Zealanders."

"The question must be asked: has the principal's faith in NCEA taken her too far? It is lovely that students `blossom' from getting pass marks, but if those marks aren't genuine, how will they ever help them in the future?

"What use is a qualification to an employer if the student passed Mathematics by cleaning the schoolyard? If this accusation is true then, although Cambridge High might have the country's cleanest grounds, we can judge nothing of its pupils' true performance. All the students who slogged their guts out last year must be horrified. Until the facts are known, every Cambridge High NCEA pass will be devalued.

"Cambridge High is the school that punished a student for writing an honest and well-written story containing the word `boner'. Now the principal, and Board of Trustees, must ensure they can account for and verify their school's behaviour," Ms Coddington said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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