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NCEA takes employers back to schools

Monday, January 10th, 2005

NCEA takes employers back to schools

Employers are expressing concern that the records of achievement in NCEA subjects cannot be easily compared either between schools, or from year to year. They are therefore unable to choose fairly between applicants for a job.

They want the NZ Qualifications Authority to guarantee the standards of achievement between schools are moderated to a far higher level of precision to underpin the NCEA's integrity.

"Unfortunately, because they suspect that standards of achievement differ between schools and over time, many employers are placing more emphasis on what school job seekers attended rather than on their NCEA certificates," said Alasdair Thompson, chief executive of the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern).

"Students who didn't attend schools with a reputation for rigorous teaching and achievement standards may not be getting the credit they deserve.

"Employers are on a fast learning curve to understand what the new certificates actually mean, and what the precise credits specified were obtained for.

"They have to study NCEA certificates carefully to see what job seekers have achieved as students can sometimes concentrate on areas they enjoyed rather on what they may need to get a reasonable understanding of a subject.

"Schools can mix and match within subjects to include what they want to make up a year's course of study, and an employer may not know which areas of study have not been covered.

"Many schools with reputations for high standards have made few changes to their courses but others are offering parts of the curriculum that allow greater choice but which may give a greater opportunity for some students to avoid the tougher stuff.

"Employers know what occurred at Cambridge High School was permitted; schools had been encouraged to record any achievement standards that a student completed, and they were permitted to set up classes so students had endless opportunities to achieve a positive result.

"Giving students the ability to pick only soft options does not inspire confidence.

"On the positive front, employers of students seeking vocational and trades based careers appreciate the detailed assessments of skill and aptitude offered by the NCEA certificates, provided any assumed inconsistencies between schools are allowed for."


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