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Know-nothings responsible for NCEA exams

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

7 April 2005

Know-nothings responsible for NCEA exams

National’s Education spokesman, Bill English, says the same person who is responsible for the NCEA exams in agriculture is also responsible for art history.

“Documents from the NZ Qualifications Authority show NCEA exams are overseen by people who may know nothing about the subject.

“Students have to know their subject well so why shouldn’t the people who set the exam?

The person responsible for overseeing an exam is called the National Assessment Facilitator.

“I am told NZQA has a policy that exams should be overseen by someone who is NOT a subject expert, but I can’t confirm this from the documents. I hope NZQA will be able to clarify this matter.

“For instance, the same facilitator is responsible for biology and economics, and another is responsible for agriculture and art history. It’s quite possible these people are not experts in either subject.

“Subject experts draft the exam questions, but the NAF has the final say on wording and layout of the exam. This person is also involved in moderation to check whether the questions fairly assess the course.

“He or she could be responsible for up to 30 exams across three levels of NCEA, including dozens of individually assessed standards.

“It’s no wonder the exams are so inconsistent from year to year, and so unfair on students,” Mr English says.

“NZQA’s practice of using people with no subject expertise helps explain part of the growing list of problems with NCEA.

“It must be galling for teachers to see their students short changed by so-called experts who don’t know the subject nearly as well as the teachers.”

ENDS

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