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More Labour deceit over NCEA inquiry

Hon Bill English
National Party Education Spokesman
8 March 2005

More Labour deceit over NCEA inquiry

Labour Ministers have resorted to being economical with the truth to downplay the seriousness of the inquiry into NCEA, says National’s Education spokesman, Bill English.

Trevor Mallard told Parliament today that the Government decided to hold an inquiry into NCEA on February 15.

“The Government made no public statement about an inquiry into NCEA for another 10 days, when it tried to slip the announcement out,” says Mr English.

“Ministers clearly intended to deceive the public.”

On February 16, David Benson-Pope told National Radio that only NCEA scholarship was under investigation. He was reported on February 17 by a newspaper as denying there would be any wide-ranging inquiry into NCEA.

“In fact, Ministers had rubbished any suggestion that problems with the scholarship were spilling over into NCEA, saying NCEA results showed nothing that was unexpected,” says Mr English.

“Throughout the controversy over scholarship, Helen Clark and her Ministers continually emphasised that scholarship was quite separate from NCEA.

“Apart from one speculative media report, later denied by Ministers, no statement was made to the public about the inquiry until Labour Ministers were questioned in Parliament on March 1.

“Most people in education still do not know that an ‘independent expert’has been appointed to help the inquiry, or that the expert is Alan Barker, one of the architects of NCEA during his seven-year stint working at NZQA.

“Labour continues to show bad faith towards students, parents and teachers, instead of dealing with their serious concerns about NCEA, and continues to be deceitful for some supposed political advantage when everyone else wants an honest appraisal of the problems so they can be fixed,” says Mr English.


Attachment: Timeline of comments regarding NCEA results

Timeline of Comments Regarding NCEA Results

10 February 2005: Mr Benson-Pope said he was happy with the NZQA’s performance and management of NCEA levels 1 to 3. “The change from a moderated system to one based on standards -…. will have greater variety in results.”
11 January: Qualifications Authority Chief Executive Karen Van Rooyen today assured employers that standards of achievement between schools are consistent nationally, and consistent year to year.
"It doesn't matter which school a student attended, or in which year.”
13 February 2005: “Bill English’s campaign of whispers against the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) does nothing but denigrate the achievement of our students, says Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.”

“Today Mr English claimed variability in some New Zealand Scholarship subjects was “spilling over” into NCEA levels 2 and 3. This suggestion has been roundly rubbished by Mr Benson-Pope, who says interim NCEA results to date show nothing that had not been expected.

“As Mr English well knows, the New Zealand Scholarship exams are entirely separate and not even part of NCEA. Talk of spill-over is nonsensical.”

15 February 2005: Benson-Pope: “I am advised that at the end of a 3-year process implementation of NCEA levels 1 to 3 has gone relatively well. I stand by the advice I have received that the results for NCEA are within expected parameters.

“I would have hoped that by now the member would understand that in a standards based assessment regime… with lots of variable factors, such comparisons between years and cohorts are absolutely meaningless.”

16 February 2005: Presenter: So it’s only the scholarship system that’s really being put under the microscope?

Benson-Pope: That’s Right.

17 February: Benson-Pope: “There ain’t any alternative and we’re not looking for any alternatives… end of conversation.”

“Mr Benson Pope yesterday … rejected calls for a wider inquiry into whether NCEA was working. (based on answer to journalists question)
23 February 2005: Karen van Rooyen: “I can reassure the EMA that the variability over time in interim results for levels 1 and 2 is as expected and does not indicate a systemic problem.”

“There will always be variability from year to year and there always has been.”

24 February 2005: “ The Government will today ask the State Services Commission to widen its inquiry into the New Zealand Qualifications Authority after it admitted finding “significant variability” in other NCEA results.” (The Press)

Benson-Pope, told the Press last night that he was concerned about the variability and wanted it investigated further. Asked if he was comfortable with NZQA’s assurances that it was normal and the authority had it under control, he replied: “Not at this point.”

1 March 2005: Benson-Pope: “I’m not yet in a position to say whether I fully agree with that statement. I am not yet assured that the level of variability that was observed in the 2004 NCEA results was appropriate or acceptable.”

‘I am aware of the public concern and that is why I have instituted the State Services Commission review, which covers this matter.”

2 March 2005: Mallard: “The Associate Minister needs some assurance that those results lie within acceptable parameters.”

“The Associate Minister's view is that these things are worth looking at, and that is why he has referred them to the inquiry.”

4 March: Mr Benson-Pope said when he heard about NZQA's move he wrote to the State Services Commission to make sure the inquiry would also cover that.

"I didn't put out a particular release about the fact that I had written a letter because I didn't think it was a big deal because it was already covered by the State Services Commission."

8 March:
“Has the government initiated an inquiry in to NCEA results; if so, when was the decision to undertake that inquiry made.?”

Mallard on behalf of the Minister said there was an inquiry and the decision was made on Feb 15


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