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Education Ministry announces changes to NCEA

The government has dropped controversial plans to let primary and intermediate school children sit NCEA literacy and numeracy tests.

EXAMS Photo: supplied

The Education Ministry today announced the tests, aimed at raising the minimum NCEA benchmark for reading, writing and maths, would be mandatory from 2023 and students could sit them no earlier than Year 9.

It also announced changes to the subjects available at NCEA level 1.

"NCEA Level 1 will remain optional but it will change to become a broader foundational qualification that allows students to keep their options open, while Levels 2 and 3 become more specialised," the ministry's deputy secretary, early learning and student achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid said.

Latin and Art History would be dropped from level 1 altogether, Māori Performing Arts would be added, and some other subjects would be rolled into other, broader subjects.

For example Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Space Science, and Science would be replaced by a single subject, Science; and Economics, Business Studies and Accounting would be replaced by Commerce.

The separate subjects Physical Education and Health would become a single subject, and History and Classical Studies would be replaced by History.

Feedback on the ministry's proposed list of level 1 subjects closes on 20 April.

MacGregor-Reid said more than 1000 achievement standards would be rewritten as part of the overhaul, which was announced by the government last year.

She said it would take five years to make the changes and no changes would be made before 2021.

Primary and intermediate school principals last year opposed suggestions the new NCEA literacy and numeracy tests could be made available to students in Years 7-8.

The tests are being introduced after research found some students with NCEA level 2 failed a test of basic adult literacy and numeracy.

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