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We've had lots of conversations about whether or not to keep NCEA Level 1.

This website has been wound up and is no longer maintained. For up-to-date information and resources about the NCEA Change Programme, go to NCEA.education.govt.nz.


What we’ve heard

For many students, Level 1 introduces them to the format of NCEA assessment and prepares them for their next steps. Many school leaders wanted to keep Level 1 as it keeps their students motivated by giving them a goal to work towards. Māori and Pacific communities were particularly likely to tell us that they value Level 1 highly.

On the other hand, some school leaders suggested that removing Level 1 would allow teachers to focus more on teaching and less on assessment. By reducing their assessment workload, teachers would be free to develop innovative approaches to Year 11 which would be of more value to students than a Level 1 qualification.

For around 10 per cent of New Zealand students, NCEA Level 1 will be their highest level qualification. Removing it as an option could potentially disadvantage these young New Zealanders.

Why we're keeping Level 1 optional

We want to keep NCEA Level 1 as an optional level for schools that wish to continue to use this qualification. Others would be free to adopt alternative approaches to Year 11, in a way that best meets the needs of their students.

As part of our rebuild of NCEA standards, Level 1 will be refocused on a broad education across a wide range of Learning Areas | Wāhanga Ako. We will be working with teachers and subject associations to build these new standards.

Students in classroom

Learn more about the changes to NCEA

  1. Make NCEA more accessible
  2. Equal status for mātauranga Maori in NCEA
  3. Strengthen literacy and numeracy requirements and assessments
  4. Fewer, larger standards
  5. Simplify NCEA’s structure
  6. Clearer pathways to further education or work
  7. Keep NCEA Level 1 optional


This page was last updated on 6 August 2020.