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“My year 12 daughter recently completed a 2 day first-aid course and received 5 credits for that. It takes a whole term to get that many credits in English, when English is a more difficult subject.” (PARENT, QUICK SURVEY)

What’s happened so far?

We spent 2018 talking to New Zealanders about their experiences with NCEA – the challenges, the successes, what they like, and what we can do better.

We were not surprised that many parents and caregivers find NCEA confusing and are not always sure what their child should be, or is doing. We want parents and whānau to be able to support their children to make good choices about their education and future, but at the moment this may not be happening as well as it could be.

We heard that NCEA’s flexibility can benefit students, and having internal and external credits gives them different ways to achieve.

It was pretty clear that many people saw NCEA as a good and valued qualification. In most cases it does help our kids to get a good education and sets them up for further study or employment after school. However we also heard this isn’t the case for everyone.

Some families struggle to pay the fees for NCEA, and others found that NCEA isn’t inclusive of their languages, cultures, identities, disabilities, genders, or sexualities.

We heard that teachers in English-medium schools often had lower expectations for ākonga Māori and didn’t put the same effort into supporting them to do well in NCEA. Like Pacific students, Māori students said they can be encouraged into less academic pathways that do not serve them well.

What we also heard was that many students felt increasingly stressed with the amount of assessment they were doing throughout the year, and in some cases this was affecting their family and life at home.

As well as talking to schools, and family and whānau, we also asked employers and tertiary educators how we could strengthen NCEA. They told us that some students are leaving school without the levels of literacy and numeracy needed to succeed in further education and work. This is just not good enough, and something we need to fix.

The changes to NCEA are the result of what we heard last year, and we are confident that they will improve the future of young people in New Zealand.

If you need to ask any further questions about these changes and what they mean for your child, please talk to your school who will be able to help you.

How will the changes to NCEA help your family and whānau?

Some changes like removing fees for NCEA and NZ Scholarship will happen immediately. This year you will not have to pay fees, and schools will give refunds to those parents who have already made payments in 2019. This will mean families have more money in their pockets, and all children will have an equal chance to achieve a qualification.

Other changes will take more time, and won’t impact kids who are currently doing NCEA. These changes need to be designed and rolled out in schools over the next 5-6 years. As things are changing, your child’s school or wharekura will be supported and included along the way.

The changes will strengthen your child’s education. They will help you both make better choices about what they should study, and what their next steps will be after school.

Your child’s workload will be more manageable, which has got to be good for their mental health. Being a teenager can be hard enough as it is without the extra stress and pressure from too much school work. There‘ll be fewer assessments each year, which means teachers will get more time to teach, and students more time to learn.

The changes will make NCEA simpler and easier for everyone to understand.

You should feel comfortable and confident in NCEA, that it is a strong, credible qualification that is equipping your child with the knowledge and skills they need for a successful life.

What are the changes?

There are seven changes that will be rolled out over the next 5-6 years. The changes are:

1. Make NCEA more accessible

  • You’ll no longer have to pay fees for your child to sit NCEA
  • There will be more resources and support for your child if they have disabilities or learning support needs
  • We’re going to make NCEA more accessible and inclusive of other languages, cultures, identities, disabilities, genders, and sexualities.

2. Mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori (Equal status for mātauranga Māori in NCEA)

  • Mātauranga Māori in NCEA will be valued equally, meaning greater opportunity for Māori students to experience success as Māori. This will be done by creating more quality assessment resources and teaching and learning guides for Māori education, new mātauranga Māori achievement standards that are recognised by NCEA, and greater teacher capability around Mātauranga Māori and te ao Māori.

3. Strengthen literacy and numeracy requirements

  • There will be standards for literacy and numeracy that your child can sit whenever they are ready, which could be as early as Year 7. This learning sits outside of NCEA but is required in order to achieve any NCEA. It will be marked by external markers, not your child’s teacher.

4. Have fewer, larger standards

  • There’s going to be fewer achievement standards for each subject for your child to choose from, but they’ll cover a broader range of knowledge, skills and capabilities. This will help students learn the stuff they need to set them up for success, instead of choosing smaller disconnected standards just to get the credits. There will also be fewer assessments each year, which should help stress levels both at school and at home.
  • We’re going to promote vocational education and training in NCEA so that it’s seen as being just as important as traditional ‘academic’ learning.

5. Simplify NCEA’s structure

  • Your child will need only 60 credits to pass any level, and they shouldn’t really be entering more than 120 credits for Levels 1 and 2, 100 for Level 3. They won’t be able to ‘carry-over’ credits from one level to the next, and only resubmissions that would take them from ‘Not Achieved’ to ‘Achieved’ will be allowed.

6. Show clearer pathways to further education and employment

  • For kids who are studying vocational education and training, we are going to set up a Vocational Entrance Award to show that they’re ready to move onto higher-level vocational education training after NCEA
  • The Record of Achievement will be clearer in showing what students know and can do.

7. Keep NCEA Level 1 as an optional level

  • NCEA Level 1 will continue to be an optional level for schools who want to offer this qualification. Others would be free to adopt alternative approaches to Year 11, in a way that best meets the needs of their students.

What Next?

The Ministry of Education will work with experts from across the education sector to make sure the changes work in practice.

How can I find out more?

Watch our videos about each of the 7 changes to NCEA, or if you have any questions contact the Ministry at NCEA.Review@education.govt.nz.

The Ministry of Education will be providing resources to schools and kura to help them inform and support parents and whānau through these changes. Please contact your school or kura to stay informed about the changes to NCEA.