Secondary school students all over New Zealand logged onto the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) website yesterday to find out their results for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). However, with a review of NCEA on the cards this year, it may be the last year the NCEA process follows its current format.

Approximately 143,000 students sat external examinations in November and December last year. There were 119 exams covering 230 standards spanning NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3, as well as New Zealand Scholarship.

But NCEA is set to change with a review of the assessment system scheduled for this year. According to the Education Ministry, the purpose of the review is to ensure NCEA remains

“fit for purpose and continues to support young people to succeed on a diverse range of pathways”.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins will appoint a ministerial advisory group to set out the key issues in April. Final recommendations are expected in September, and these may be implemented from next year.

A review of NCEA is likely to address problems identified in the review’s terms of reference such as “the impact of over-assessment on student wellbeing and teacher workload” and “assessment-driven teaching and learning”.

Hipkins has made clear his views that we are over-assessing our kids. He says New Zealand secondary students are faced with a high-stakes assessment just about every two weeks.

PPTA president Jack Boyle agrees. He points out that the Ministry’s 85 per cent achievement target bears down heavily on schools, requiring almost constant assessment. He thinks the pressure of assessment on students and teachers is relentless and distracts teachers from actually teaching.

Employers are hopeful the NCEA review will place less emphasis on siloed subjects and more on skills like problem-solving, collaboration and communication.

“We’d like to see the review of NCEA focus on those key skills, attributes and competencies that are in the front end of the NZ Curriculum, but they are really dominated by the subjects,” Business NZ education manager Carrie Murdoch told the Herald.

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