‘Big bold‘ ideas to change NCEA – Education Minister

The Education Minister has released an outline of what he calls “big, bold” ideas to change NCEA.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The ideas are part of a consultation document released by Chris Hipkins today.

Proposals being considered include giving students different pathways to NCEA by connecting them earlier with employers, iwi or polytechnics.

It‘s also considering greater emphasis on digital literacy, civic participation and teaching students how to work with each other.

Expectations for literacy and numeracy attainment could also be strengthened.

Mr Hipkins says employers are telling him students are not coming out of school with the right skills, and more flexibility is needed.

And he said there‘s too much assessment which is getting in the way of learning.

Also proposed in the consultation document is abolishing fees for NCEA.

“This government is intent on doing things differently by asking New Zealanders to tell us the change they want us to make,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Underpinning these ideas is the notion of using the in-built flexibility of NCEA to release the full potential of the New Zealand curriculum. At the same time, we can move away from the burden of overassessment and give teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn.”

Public consultation runs until September.

The changes proposed were well overdue, the Post Primary Teachers‘ Association said.

President Jack Boyle said his organisation had been calling for changes to NCEA for a long time.

“The reality is assessment related bureaucracy for NCEA is the biggest area of unproductive workload for teachers and it has a really negative impact for our learners.

“No other jurisdiction in the world has three consecutive years of high stakes assessment all through the year, and PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment) wellbeing statistics say that our young people have got the highest rates of stress and anxiety over assessment in the developed world.”

The group responsible was trying to make NCEA the best qualification possible, said Jeremy Baker, the chair of the ministerial inquiry group that delivered the report.

He said having a smaller amount of assessment would give students a foundation to prepare for the higher stakes qualifications of Level 2 and 3.

The group had talked about the significance of NCEA Level 1, and believed it provided a building block for teens moving on to tougher assessments.

There was also a recommendation to can fees for NCEA, which the Education Minister has not committed to.

Jeremy Baker said when it came to cost the group found pain and anguish was felt by parents that couldn‘t afford to pay fees and had to apply for assistance.

“It seemed like it was an unfair system, and it was creating a barrier that really wasn‘t helpful.”

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