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NCEA should help the wellbeing of young people and their teachers by the way it leads to exciting teaching and fair assessment. It should also recognise the place and value of different cultural perspectives such as te ao Māori and mātauranga Māori and the total diversity of New Zealanders.

Some challenges to wellbeing:

  • NCEA may not suit all students
  • too much assessment
  • a heavy workload for teachers as well as students.

Inclusion and equity

Every young person should have the chance to succeed in their learning and NCEA should help make this happen, so assessment is fair and accessible to all.

Current challenges to inclusion and equity:

  • some young people still don’t get the support they need to make learning and assessment fair
  • the existing system doesn’t suit all cultures
  • need more opportunities for different types of learning to be recognised
  • not everyone has fair access to rich teaching materials that work for them.


We want students to be able to take courses that fit together well and are relevant to their interests and skills, so they can see clearly where their learning is taking them and they feel prepared for their next steps beyond each NCEA.

Current challenges to coherence:

  • learning tends to get broken up into standards without clear links between the “chunks” of learning or between subjects
  • getting NCEA doesn’t always guarantee someone has the literacy and numeracy skills to take the next step
  • students can’t always see the relevance of what they are learning because it doesn’t match their interests or culture.


NCEA should make it easy for young people, their family/whānau, and teachers to make choices about the future. It should ensure young people have lots of pathways open to them when they finish school or kura – to pursue their passions, further study, training, work or career opportunities. Young people deserve good advice and opportunities to explore a range of pathways without getting stuck.

Current challenges to pathways:

  • need to make it easier to make good decisions about next steps
  • students can get stuck because of earlier choices and this closes pathways for them
  • some pathways aren’t valued as highly as others


We want to make sure that your NCEA – which reflects your identity, your language, your culture and who you are – is meaningful, and well-respected by everyone. It should open doors for you when you leave school and show the world just what you are capable of.

Current challenges to credibility:

  • NCEA can be hard for users to understand
  • the NCEA record of achievement doesn’t always capture the full range of a young person’s skills and knowledge
  • we need more clarity and confidence about what an NCEA graduate can do and be.

A more detailed version of the principles can be found in the Discussion Document: Background to the NCEA Review.