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Standards must be upheld if NCEA is to stay

Ogilvy: Standards must be upheld if NCEA is to stay

Survey results revealing an increasing lack of confidence in NCEA on the part of parents and employers should be the immediate concern of the new Minister in charge of compulsory schooling, David Benson-Pope, United Future education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy said today.

“The perception is that NCEA is easier than Bursary and School Certificate, that standards are unevenly assessed, and that the results students receive actually give little in the way of useful information,” Mr Ogilvy said.

“The reports I’ve heard about this year’s assessment of NCEA only serve to reinforce these views.”

“This year, a number of students sitting the Level 3 English exam used Bridget Jones’ Diary to answer questions on literature, but because of the way in which the standards are assessed, markers had to pass these students.

“Each year, NZQA find it difficult to get enough people to mark exams. This year, some of the Level 2 biology papers were marked by a first year maths teacher, whose last encounter with the subject was when she was at school herself,” he said.

Mr Ogilvy said the Minister should also be concerned about the way students approach standards.

On one hand, teachers and parents report that the standards system encourages students to do the minimal amount necessary, so that when it comes to exam time they know that they have got a certain number of credits during the year so they only attempt as much as they need to get through.

On the other hand, students who do not attempt a particular standard in the exam are recorded as having failed that standard, which distorts the results and makes the system seem tougher than it really is.

“These are just some of the problems with the exam system, where national standards are more likely to be examined on a consistent basis. That’s to say nothing about the way in which standards are assessed internally across schools throughout the year, with each school having different resources and policies to deal with issues such as reassessment and responses to external moderation.

“Put simply, NCEA needs to be approached with much more rigour.

“I hope Mr Benson-Pope will reassess his view that ‘most people are really pleased with the system we have got’, when he reads the survey and re-acquaints himself with those at the chalk face.”

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