NCEA overhaul looks good

The Herald reports:

Students will face more emphasis on exams and less on internal assessment in an overhaul of the NCEA system unveiled today.
There will also be a sharper focus on literacy and numeracy skills.
The changes, to be phased in over four years from next year, also remove the qualification’s $76.70-a-year fee and the $30 fee for each Scholarship subject.
The Government’s final decisions on reforming the National Certificate of Educational Assessment (NCEA) will increase external assessment for all achievement standards from 30 per cent now to a standardised 50 per cent across all subjects – even those that have traditionally been fully assessed internally such as Physical Education.

I’m pleasantly surprised. These changes look like a move in the right direction, away from low quality NCEA credits.

But they represent a sharp shift back to the rigid subject-based systems of School Certificate and University Entrance that existed before NCEA was introduced in 2002.
The system will still include the opportunity to take “unit standards” in vocational areas such as trades, which accounted for just under a fifth of all NCEA standards assessed in 2017.
But “achievement standards”, which made up the other four-fifths of the standards assessed in 2017, will be grouped into 20-credit subjects in which half of the standards will be internally assessed and the other half externally assessed.
The new structure appears to leave no room for extras, such as driver’s licences or first aid courses, which many schools encourage students to take on top of their main subjects to get them over the NCEA pass mark each year.

Again this is good. The focus should be on academic or trades skills, not getting your driver’s licence.

The changes, announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins at Mana College in Porirua this morning, are a dramatic lurch in the opposite direction from proposals released a year ago by a ministerial advisory group, which proposed abolishing external exams at Level 1 and substituting 20 credits for literacy and numeracy and 20 credits for a project of the student’s choice.
The advisory group also wanted to allocate 20 credits out of 80 required for each of Levels 2 and 3 to “pathways opportunities” such as projects and internships.
Those proposals have been completely abandoned after an outcry from principals of traditional schools such as Auckland Grammar.
Hipkins quickly agreed to set up a “professional advisory group” of principals chaired by former Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses to “work alongside” the ministerial advisory group.

This is why the changes are such a pleasant surprise. They are what the traditional schools have been arguing for.

Hopefully Hipkins will also abandon the daft proposal to neuter boards of trustees and have ministerial hubs run all schools directly.

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