Families of secondary students will be pleased to learn of the removal of the $76.70 NCEA fee, as announced today by Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

The removal of the NCEA and NZ Scholarship fees was part of a change package announced today to strengthen the qualification following the year-long NCEA review.   

The seven major changes in the package are:

  1. Make NCEA more accessible
  2. Mana ōrite mo te mātauranga Māori
  3. Strengthen literacy and numeracy requirements
  4. Have fewer, larger standards
  5. Simplify NCEA’s structure
  6. Show clearer pathways to further education and employment
  7. Keep NCEA Level 1 as an optional level

Hipkins says the changes address limitations and unintended consequences that have built up over time.

“Over-assessment has been swamping students and teachers and getting in the way of actual learning, and the current reality is that some students can finish school with gaps in their knowledge and skills,” he says.

“Some young people don’t cover all the learning that is important and there has not been a strong enough focus on literacy and numeracy. 

“With these improvements NCEA will become more credible and robust. They will set stronger directions for all students working towards an NCEA. 

“Considering that only around a third of Year 13 school leavers go into degree-level study, it is vital we do more to prepare all students for successful transitions into vocational training, work, or further studies.

 “Teachers will get more time to teach and students more time to learn, with a shift away from fragmented, small assessments towards larger, more unified blocks of learning and assessment. NCEA will be more accessible and more focused on the most important learning needed to set young people up for success. 

“Improving support for students to undertake NCEA through Māori-medium education is long overdue,” says Hipkins.

The Government is also funding the continued roll-out of the NCEA Online programme so students can opt to sit their exams using a PC or laptop.

The total cost of removing NCEA fees is expected to be $49 million over the next four years. The Government is also contributing an additional $14.5 million operating and $6.4 million capital to continue rolling out NCEA Online.

The PPTA supports the proposed changes, saying that many of them are things the PPTA has advocated for over a number of years. President Jack Boyle is particularly pleased to see the removal of NCEA fees.

“Anything that makes school more equitable for every child in New Zealand is something we support wholeheartedly,” he said.

National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye is supportive of the general direction of the changes to NCEA announced today although there is still a lot of details be worked out, she cautions. Kaye is pleased to see fees scrapped and changes that will strengthen numeracy and literacy. She is also pleased that NCEA Level 1  will remain an option for schools.

“We have supported the view that there are too many standards, creating large workloads for teachers and students and jeopardising course coherence. We believe it is important to ensure that changes trade a little bit of NCEA’s vast flexibility for fewer, bigger standards that equip young people with the essential knowledge and concepts from each subject area,” says Kaye.

The Ministry of Education will work with stakeholders to confirm the detailed design and implementation plan by the end of the year, with implementation expected over four years starting in 2020. Costs will be finalised by the end of the year. 

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