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NCEA: Subject Choice Matters More Than Performance

Hon Bill English
National Party Education Spokesman

27 March 2005

NCEA: subject choice matters more than performance

National’s Education spokesman Bill English says under the NCEA subject choice, not student performance, will determine which students gain University Entrance.

An analysis of the 2004 NCEA external exam results shows that, regardless of student performance, some subjects have much greater pass rates.

“For our top students hoping to gain excellence the achievement rate between subjects was considerable,” says Mr English.

The analysis shows:
1 in 250 students gained excellence in Social Studies
1 in 100 gained excellence in Economics
1 in 40 gained excellence in English
1 in 20 gained excellence in Geography
1 in 14 gained excellence in Classical Studies
1 in 7 gained excellence in Accounting

Mr English says the disparities between courses will leave some students unable to go on to university simply because they didn’t take the right subjects.

In Commerce courses, 50% failed Economics, compared with 31% of those sitting Accounting.

In Arts courses, 60% failed media studies, compared with 44% sitting English.

In Technology/Design, 70% failed Graphics, compared with 25% sitting Practical Art.

“Large variations in failure rates between standards in the same subject, and between internal and external assessments, means academic success in our schools is now more about guesswork than performance,”says Mr English.

“The pure theory approach to assessment in the NCEA must be changed to ensure students get a fair go, whatever subjects they choose.”


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