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Minister welcomes 80% of teachers supporting NCEA

Minister welcomes 80% of teachers supporting NCEA system And important suggestions for NCEA improvements

Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope has welcomed a new report highlighting the teaching profession's support for the NCEA system as well as identifying areas for improvement.

A new 160-page research report released today by the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) titled 'Teachers Talk About NCEA' shows 63 per cent of teachers back the NCEA assessment system. Only 16 per cent of teachers were not supportive. Twenty-one per cent of teachers surveyed did not respond. Of teachers who did respond, 80 per cent supported NCEA.

The PPTA report puts the debate around NCEA in context. It states: "On balance, despite the continuing controversy about aspects of the qualification, and despite the continued attempts of some people and groups to totally discredit it, it can be said the implementation to this point has been successful, thanks to that commitment of teachers and professional leaders. Nevertheless, this report makes no bones about the fact that there is considerable work still to be done." (Page 2 of the full report).

Mr Benson-Pope says the PPTA report shows that this important issue can be looked at in a calm and considered way.

"This is a sensible report and it is a constructive contribution unlike much of the nonsense we have been getting lately from a small minority who oppose NCEA on ideological grounds," said Mr Benson-Pope.

"This report shows the immense amount of work teachers are putting into NCEA. This snapshot of NCEA shows teachers actively engaged and using the system to achieve better outcomes for their students. That's a fantastic positive.

"I recognise that we've got a lot more work to do yet. The PPTA report clearly expresses the view that the implementation phase of NCEA should be thought of as the first five years, not just the first three years in which the new levels were introduced. This makes this year an important time to identify and bed-in improvements." Mr Benson-Pope says he is supportive of many of the key recommendations made by the PPTA. These include addressing the issue of comparability, and also change management processes.

Another important issue raised is student motivation says Mr Benson-Pope: "It is becoming clear that those who in the past ended up at the bottom of the heap without qualifications are now benefiting from a more flexible system which is encouraging achievement. At the other end teachers are telling us the brightest and most able students are pushing themselves, motivated to gain Excellence awards.

"If there is a concern it is those students in the middle. The 2004 NCEA results show new patterns of student behaviour, for example, where large numbers of students may not be achieving merely because they choose not to complete courses – having already reached their credit goals."

Mr Benson-Pope says he also agrees that professional development and assessment resources provided to schools are important issues. Both variability and change management in NCEA are already the subject of a State Services Commission inquiry.

This inquiry is in addition to a "stocktake" of the implementation to date of NCEA levels 1-3. This is being carried out by the Ministry of Education and NZQA in consultation with the education sector, particularly through the Secondary Principals' and Leaders' Forum.

Mr Benson-Pope has requested that this stocktake be carried out with a sharper focus and greater urgency. The Minister is asking that the Leaders' Forum address immediate issues such as those associated with variability, professional development, support and communication to schools, teachers, students and their parents.

"Improvements identified through this process will need to be made in a timely way so students benefit from them in this academic year," he said.

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