Government Pursues NCEA Changes as Third Pass Only Writing Standard

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Only a third of students passed the new writing standards in a pilot program. Photo / 123rf

The government is pushing ahead with NCEA changes as planned despite critics calling for a pause, as only a third of students in a pilot program passed the new writing standard.

The Post-Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) said the results showed pupils and teachers need more time to adapt to the new standards before the roll-out begins at Level 1 in 2024 and does not progress to Level 3 by 2026.

The government has set new standards for literacy, numeracy, Te Reo Matatini (Maori language literacy) and pāngarau (Maori language numeracy) which will need to be taken alongside the NCEA.

The standards are introduced because a study found that 40% of students who achieved NCEA Level 2 could not read or count.

Prior to the nationwide rollout, the Ministry of Education conducted pilot projects last year and this year. A national pilot will also take place in 2023.

Over 200 schools, kura and tertiary providers participated in the first pilot this year online.

The results showed that only 64% passed the standard in reading, 34% in writing and 56% in numeracy, Te Reo Matatini (Maori language literacy) at 24% and Pāngarau (Maori language numeracy) at just 18%.

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

Louise Ryan, national executive member of PPTA Te Wehengarua, said the government must put the overhaul of the NCEA on hold to allow teachers and students to focus more on literacy and numeracy.

“Teachers told us, our annual conference asked for it earlier this month and we asked education ministers for more time.

“Teachers are determined to make changes to the NCEA, but the results of the pilot project show that there must be the opportunity for teachers and students to understand the changes in teaching and learning that drive the assessments. literacy and numeracy before other new NCEA changes are introduced.”

Ryan said it was particularly important after three years of Covid-19 disruption that students have the opportunity to master the new requirement and are not set to fail.

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

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

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

“The examination of the standards of achievement – the building blocks of the subjects of the qualification – must be suspended while this other work is carried out.”

Ryan also said there must be nationally coordinated teacher days in 2023 to deal with the changes.

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said the pilot schemes were important to get feedback from schools, teachers and students so that when implemented in 2024 they are “robust, fair and suitable for their purpose.

“The results of the pilot show that changes are needed before the NCEA changes are rolled out,” she said.

“In 2023, we will work with schools to ensure they have the resources and support to transition to the new standards in 2024.”

National Education Party spokeswoman Erica Stanford said the results of the pilot were “depressing” and needed to be corrected.

“These standards were designed to assess whether students can master the basics in reading, writing and math.

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

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