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In the lead up to the launch of the NCEA review, the Ministry of Education in consultation with other education agencies and researchers, wrote 15 ‘background papers’ to provide a detailed introduction to NCEA.

The papers cover a range of topics on the background to the NCEA review, from a history of the qualification through to detailed papers considering overassessment, literacy and numeracy and quality assurance.

They’re a useful starting point if you’re interested in understanding more about NCEA, or about a specific topic relevant to the NCEA review.

These papers aren’t intended to promote specific recommendations, and were developed before the appointment of the NCEA Review Ministerial Advisory Group – so they weren’t developed with the Ministerial Advisory Group’s Big Opportunities in mind. However, these topics were part of the process of shaping the principles of the NCEA review.

The table below sets out a summary of each paper, and also signals how they connect or lead into the principles of the review. Most of the background papers will have some connection to all of the principles, but we’ve highlighted the principles to which each paper is most closely connected.

Guiding principles of the NCEA Review

15 background papers to the NCEA Review

Paper Title Description Principle Link to paper
1 A brief history of NCEA Describes NCEA’s development from its inception through to 2017. N/A Download paper 
2 Themes in NCEA Literature Provides an overview of the themes identified by the body of research literature about NCEA that has accumulated since 2002– 2004, when NCEA was introduced. Connects to all principles across the range of themes identified Download paper 
3 Purpose and outcomes statements for NCEA Sets out early drafts of purpose and outcome statements for the three levels of NCEA, including discussion questions to guide debate about the adequacy of these statements. Coherence, pathways and credibility Download paper 
4 Trends in NCEA Considers major trends relating to NCEA, particularly in achievement rates and the types of NCEA being awarded across subjects and Learning Areas and Wāhanga Ako. Coherence, pathways and credibility Download paper 
5 Levels of NCEA Provides background for an informed discussion on the role of the three levels of NCEA, particularly NCEA Level 1. Coherence and pathways Download paper 
6 Connections with pathways into further education and/or employment Provides information on the connections between different types of NCEA and successful pathways into further education and/or employment. Pathways Download paper 
7 Course coherence in NCEA Provides information on course coherence, including what course coherence is and its relationship to NCEA. Coherence Download paper 
8 Non-standards based learning and NCEA Explores credit inclusion and its relationship to NCEA, and how NCEA recognises prior learning. Coherence and credibility Download paper 
9 Māori medium and NCEA Provides a background on the interaction between Māori medium education and NCEA, and the statistical characteristics of Māori medium students studying towards an NCEA. Wellbeing, equity and pathways Download paper 
10 Literacy and numeracy requirements for NCEA Describes the development of the literacy and numeracy requirements for NCEA, and the impact of these requirements on the structure and delivery of NCEA. Equity and coherence Download paper 
11 Accessing NCEA Explores the various settings in which young people study towards an NCEA, and some of the similarities and differences between those settings and the NCEAs they tend to award. Equity, coherence, pathways and credibility Download paper 
12 Over-assessment and its impact on students and teachers Provides information on the issue of over-assessment, and in particular, the extent to which NCEA might affect teacher and student workloads, motivation and wellbeing. Wellbeing and equity. Download paper 
13 NCEA Online Describes NZQA’s current initiatives and progress towards offering NCEA external assessment online. Wellbeing, equity and credibility. Download paper 
14 How NCEA is recognised overseas Describes the current status of NCEA overseas and how it contributes to New Zealand’s global education market. Credibility Download paper 
15 Quality assurance in NCEA Describes the process of quality assurance used to ensure the validity of NCEA, and discusses its efficacy. Credibility Download paper