Young people want to enjoy learning and stay in control of their workload. They want to get away from a credit-focused experience, and instead access rich and flexible learning that’s exciting and relevant to their future aspirations and employment.
They’re also asking questions about the point of each level of NCEA, and what opportunities each level opens up. They’re keen to make sure that each level clearly contributes to their available pathways, and shows what they know and can do. They’re challenging us to think more widely about what a school leaver qualification looks like in the 21st century, and whether the current ‘multiple levels over multiple years’ system makes sense.
Below are some of the things we have heard, and some questions that may be useful for your conversations around the future of NCEA.
Aligning Principles: Pathways, Coherency, Credibility
“Most other countries don’t have three years of high stakes assessment, or three different school leaver qualifications. Why not have one “school leaver diploma” that reflects each person’s pathway and their achievements. You could do this over two or three years, building depth of learning and skill over time.”
Aligning Principles: Pathways, Wellbeing, Equity
“I love how forward-thinking New Zealand is in education, and I would like our qualification system to reflect that. Keeping the focus on understanding, not knowledge; on citizenship and community; on dispositions and attitudes towards learning and life; creating pathways to work and living beyond school where university isn't the norm.”
Aligning Principles: Pathways, Coherence
"We need to look at the motivational aspect of NCEA, pushing students to study areas that they have little interest in does nothing for them. U.E is only important to those wanting to go to university. Look at how credits and [final exams] can help students into trades, into polytechs into something rather than having them think they aren't good enough for anything if they can't achieve at the U.E level. Open the pathways to allowing more hands on learning methods."
Aligning Principles: Coherence, Wellbeing, Credibility
"There is too much continuous pressure on our young people. I think no other OECD country has 3 straight years of ongoing assessment. At the end of it all many students are coming away without the necessary skills to successfully enter the workplace [because we are focused on assessment at the experience of capability building]."
"I would remove the achievement and unit standard emphasis altogether, and focus more on the delivery of a range of programmes that align with the New Zealand Curriculum. The flexibility inherent in NCEA as it currently is, where learners choose options based on the credit values of assessment standards, is so great that it is hard to see how any student progresses through a coherent education journey. Instead it seems like a Lego-block approach."