Thursday, April 20, 2023

Tim Dower: Are we at the point where NCEA has lost its credibility?

NCEA; what a cluster.

Changes to both the curriculum and the assessment process that is testing to you and me - are being slowed down.

The Minister says this will help lift performance, and tackle those awful numbers showing about half our kids are leaving school barely capable of basic reading and writing.

What I read into that is that the Minister knows if we moved into the new regime now, the results would be as bad, or even worse, than last time.

Jan Tinetti desperately needs to be able to say ‘Hey, look what a great job we've done...students are getting better test results.’

But I don't think I'm the only one developing a suspicion that the way they'll do that is fiddle the system - make the tests a whole lot easier - you know, let's try something a monkey could pass, and see how that pans out.

That, of course serves the Minister and Ministry, but it's not much use to anyone else.

Worse, it's a downright disservice to the people who matter most in all of this - the students.

As a parent, do you have confidence the education system is delivering?

Do employers understand what all the different levels of NCEA mean and what the results tell us about a job candidate?

Would it be better to maybe toss a real-work document in front of someone during the interview, and see if they understand it.

If it really matters to the role that the person can read and write and do simple numerical reasoning, you might be better off paying for a private test.

They're not expensive and certainly a lot less costly than hiring someone who you later realise hasn't got what's needed for the job.

Are we at the point where NCEA has lost its credibility? Not that it's ever had much of that.

Is it time to just give up on NCEA, and go back to using recognised qualifications like GCSE - the advantage of those being they're portable - and that matters in a global employment market.

Bottom line, as the Herald recently found, New Zealand students have been going backward against their overseas peers for the past 20 years.

NCEA was introduced in 2002.

Point made?

Tim Dower is a New Zealand journalist who works for Newstalk ZB as a newsreader and substitutes talkback announcer. This article was first published HERE


Anonymous said...

All the Education Ministers of the last 20 years should be shackled, smeared with ash, clothed in sackcloth and paraded in front of every school assembly in NZ while begging students and teachers for forgiveness. It may serve to make the next lot a bit more circumspect about seeking and applying advice about what actually works for decent education outcomes.

Robert Arthur said...

I attended a parent teacher meeting when NCEA was introduced.The headmaster with an eye to his careeras most senior staff, advocated for, but the school quickly adopted the Cambridge test. NCEA was supposed to provide something attainable by all so particular groups were supposed not to feel dispirited. Like most of the other parents I found it very difficult to follow. If the same effort had been put into School Cert many more would have aheived it. (Although it was blighted by different levels between subjects and scaling) Parents and employers understood it.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, and what a cluster!

MC sums what should happen up succinctly, and having our current PM amongst that pack of no-hopers, who have ruined a generation, is only appropriate.

That aside, NZ used to be able to hold it's head high - not anymore. But along with those politicians, a whole bunch in the MoE need to seek their contrition and, if not sufficiently sincere, they should be sacked with immediate effect. As for any compo, they have to be joking.

Unknown said...

In reading this wonderful presentation, one of many of recent times on the state of NZ Education, a domain that -
- "has been tinkered with by many Minister's appointed to manage" and
- the same person that stands in front of the Media and espouses on what the Min of Education wish to present to the "mainstream public", many who have an ambivalent approach to the subject.

Of the current Minister, I am reminded of a statements, from times past, which are -
> " trust me I know what I am doing, well I think I do".
> " it was all the previous administrations fault, that I am required to fix".
> " the Public just do not understand the stress that those in education have to put up with".
> "We do this for the benefit of the children and their future".

If the state of children's education, in NZ, is at an all time low, how can they cope with NCEA to achieve an academic outcome?

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

The NCEA system is great in principle in that it enables students to focus on what they are interested in particularly with a view to career development. It is truly a 'horses for courses' system that enables students to flourish in their chosen area including technical and vocational. There have been problems such as the extension of Unit Standards to conventional academic subjects but these have largely been tackled. Beware of blaming the school system for issues affecting young people that arise from the economy. BTW I have produced 2 edited volumes and a raft of academic journal papers on upper secondary assessment so I do have some idea what I am talking about. My advice would be to keep the NCEA but offer the Cambridge system alongside it for the most academically talented students. At the same time, I promote dual tech/school enrolments which the 'seamless' NCEA system lends itself to so nicely.