Video: Hobsonville Point Secondary School Maurie Abraham shares his concerns about the NCEA curriculum. / Greg Bowker

Exasperated maths teachers are drafting a letter of complaint after a major exam left baffled students facing questions they had little chance of answering.

For the second year running NCEA Level One maths has hit trouble with questions so difficult even the brightest students struggled.

Teachers say the exam confounded students with duplicate questions, unnecessarily verbose instructions and testing work not taught in the syllabus. It also omitted key topics from previous years.

One Auckland teacher said pupils were angry and upset they couldn’t solve problems in the geometry paper, believing it was missing vital angle information in questions. They were also blindsided by a new investigation style of questioning.

An open letter to the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority is being drafted by teachers across New Zealand giving critical analysis of all three papers deemed too tough for students taking the first level maths exam.

All three papers -Tables, Equations and Graphs, Geometric Reasoning and Chance and Data – have come in for criticism and some are calling the exam a disaster.

“Honestly, the best thing one can say about this paper is that it seems to have been spell-checked thoroughly,” wrote one teacher about the geometry.

Teachers say there was no warning from NZQA there would be changes in the spread of questions and the introduction of a new investigation style of question that up to a third of a paper was based on.

“NCEA seems to be experimenting with a new format for their Tables, Equations, and Graphs paper. But 2017’s Year 11 students, do not want to be guinea pigs for a National Certificate that their future schooling and careers will be based off of,” wrote Auckland teacher Talia Thomas.

“Level One Maths has proven to be a disaster for the second year in a row. 2016’s level one students should consider themselves lucky as they only had one messed up paper, the MCAT. However, this year, the Geometric Reasoning and Tables, Equations, and Graphs papers proved to be extremely difficult for even the brightest of students.”

She said most of New Zealand’s Year 11 students should not have struggled this much with a maths exam and hoped NZQA realised there was obviously something wrong given the widespread backlash.

Last year there was uproar after a Year 11 NCEA Level One Maths Common Assessment Task (MCAT) proved so difficult students were left in tears.

Then a major error in a Level 3 Statistics exam meant a question could not be answered with an investigation revealing the paper wasn’t checked properly before it was published.

NZQA has been approached for comment.

Source: NZ Herald

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