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NCEA: Variation still a serious issue

Hon Bill English - National Party Education Spokesman

9 May 2006

NCEA: Variation still a serious issue

Education Minister Steve Maharey is misleading parents and students by saying that variation between subjects and year groups in NCEA is no longer an issue, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

"Mr Maharey has continually said that assessment experts have said NCEA 2005 was fine and variation was not an issue, but in fact no assessment experts are on the record as saying that.

"The variability of NCEA results - both between subjects and between year groups - was the single biggest issue facing the education sector last year. An analysis of this year's results shows Mr Maharey is in denial if he thinks that's gone away."

An analysis of the 2005 NCEA results shows that in many subject standards, pass rates were either far higher or far lower than in 2004.

In fact, the only complete independent analysis to be carried out found that 40 of the 140 standards had variations of more than 10%. The author of that report, assessment expert Warwick Elley, described that variation as 'indefensible'.

Level One history pass rates for three out of four standards varied by more than 10%. In one standard (90213), the pass rate dropped by 18.4%, meaning that 1,939 more students failed that standard in 2005 than in 2004.

Mr English says such inconsistencies are littered throughout the results.

"The Minister and NZQA must face up to the fact that aspects of the NCEA are fundamentally unfair and do something about fixing it, rather than trying desperately to cover it up by putting words into the mouths of experts."


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