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NZQA fails its own test

Hon Bill English
National Party Education Spokesman

10 May 2006

NZQA fails its own test

Ten mainstream NCEA subjects failed the Government’s own benchmark of consistency and fairness, says National’s Education spokesman, Bill English.

An independent analysis of last year’s NCEA found that 40 of the 140 NCEA standards in the 10 mainstream subjects had variations of more than 10% - the NZQA’s own benchmark for year-to-year variation.

The author of that report, assessment expert Professor Warwick Elley, described that variation as ‘indefensible’.

”Students sitting those 40 standards did not get a fair deal because, regardless of their ability, their results would have been markedly different if they sat the same standard the previous year,” says Mr English.

“At the moment NCEA is too much like a lottery for far too many students.

“Every student sitting an NCEA standard should have the same chance of success as students sitting the same standard in previous years, but at the moment academic success is more about choosing the right subjects in the right year than it is about performance.

“There is a huge gap between the NZQA’s theoretically perfect NCEA and the real world of parents, students and teachers, where inconsistency in results is seen as unfair and potentially damaging.

“Education Minister Steve Maharey has defended the unfairness by saying that, on average, pass rates were fine, despite the experiences of individual students. That’s nonsense – students have to live with their own results, not the average results of their peers.

“The problem lies with low-quality exams, not less able students.”


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