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Govt pushing on with NCEA changes as only a third pass writing standard

Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 21 Oct 2022, 6:25pm
Photo / 123rf
Photo / 123rf

Govt pushing on with NCEA changes as only a third pass writing standard

Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 21 Oct 2022, 6:25pm

The Government is pushing on with NCEA changes as planned despite critics calling for a pause as just a third of students in a pilot programme passed the new writing standard.

The Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) said the results showed more time was needed for students and teachers to adapt to the new standards before the rollout began at level 1 in 2024 progressing to level 3 by 2026.

The Government has set new literacy, numeracy, Te Reo Matatini (Māori language literacy), and pāngarau (Māori language numeracy) standards that will need to be taken alongside NCEA.

The standards are being introduced because a study found 40 per cent of students who got NCEA level 2 were not functionally literate or numerate.

Ahead of the nationwide rollout the Ministry of Education has conducted pilots last year and this year. A nationwide pilot will also take place in 2023.

More than 200 schools, kura, and tertiary providers took place in the first pilot this year online.

The results showed just 64 per cent passed the reading standard, 34 per cent writing and 56 per cent numeracy, Te Reo Matatini (Māori language literacy) at 24 per cent and Pāngarau (Māori language numeracy) at just 18 per cent.

This came after a smaller trial last year also saw failure rates of two-thirds for writing and one-third for both reading and numeracy raising alarm bells among principals and teachers.

PPTA Te Wehengarua national executive member Louise Ryan said the Government needed to pause the overhaul of NCEA to enable teachers and students to focus more on literacy and numeracy.

"Teachers have been telling us this, our annual conference called for this earlier this month and we have asked the Ministers of Education for more time.

"Teachers are committed to the changes to NCEA going ahead, however the results of the pilot show there needs to be the opportunity for teachers and students to get their heads around the changes to teaching and learning that lead into the literacy and numeracy assessments before other new NCEA changes are introduced."

Ryan said it was particularly important after three years of Covid-19 disruption that students had the opportunity to get on top of the new requirement, and were not set up to fail.

The standards are part of a series of seven changes to NCEA announced in February 2020, the most significant reform of NCEA since the qualification was introduced in 2002.

Alongside the new standards the Government earlier this year unveiled a strategy covering literacy and communication, numeracy, and mathematics and statistics teaching, learning, and assessment in early learning and schooling.

Ryan said among the wider review of NCEA teachers wanted the focus to be on Mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori, cultural responsiveness, literacy and numeracy and localised curriculum.

"The review of achievement standards - the building blocks of subjects in the qualification - needs to be paused while this other work is done."

Ryan also said there needed to be nationally-coordinated teacher-only days in 2023 to work through the changes.

Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti said the pilot programmes were important to get feedback from schools, teachers and students so that when implemented in 2024 they were "robust, equitable and fit for purpose".

"The results from the pilot show that changes are needed before the changes to NCEA are rolled out," she said.

"During 2023 we will be working with schools to ensure they have the resources and supports to transition to the new standards in 2024."

National Party education spokeswoman Erica Stanford said the pilot results were "depressing" and needed to be addressed.

"These standards have been designed to assess whether students can do the basics in reading, writing and maths.

"The fact that at least two-thirds of students would fail at least one of these standards is truly depressing."

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