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Students went into this year’s NCEA exams with fewer credits – NZQA

View of large exam room hall and examination desks tables lined up in rows ready for students at a high school to come and sit their exams tests papers.

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NCEA and scholarship exams finish today. File photo
Photo: 123RF

Qualifications Authority figures show students went into exams with fewer NCEA credits under their belts than in any of the previous three years.

NCEA and scholarship exams finish this morning and principals said many students had to catch up because the first half of the year was disrupted by high levels of illness-related absence among both teachers and teenagers.

The Qualifications’ Authority said by the end of November schools had logged an average of 50.4 credits for each of their NCEA students, most of them for assessments completed before exams began.

At the same time last year the average was 50.5 credits, in 2020 it was 52.8, and in 2019, the year before the pandemic began, 56.6.

However, students were eligible for up to eight “learning recognition credits” at level two and three, and up to 10 at level one awarded at a rate of one for every five that students had achieved through assessment.

NZQA assessment deputy chief executive Andrea Gray said once the learning recognition credits were taken into account, students began the end-of-year exam period with a similar number of credits as in 2019.

“This demonstrates the efforts of teachers and students to catch up on lost teaching, learning and assessment opportunities, following the disruption from Covid-19 earlier in the year,” she said.

Exam attendance appeared to be similar to a normal year, Gray said.

“In a typical year, there is around a 13 percent absence rate. Based on our early analysis of the information we have received from exam centres so far, there appears to be no major variation from this.”

Teenagers spoken to by RNZ said this year was not so difficult as previous years of the pandemic but they appreciated the learning recognition credits.

Year 12 student Steve said the credits allowed him to cherry-pick which exams he would do and more than made up for disruption earlier in the year.

“The credits that they gave us as a result, honestly in my opinion outweighed the negative,” he said.

Fellow Year 12 Leo said the learning recognition credits helped.

“It definitely took a lot of stress off because then I could sort of plan around those extra credits and it definitely let me chill out a bit more,” he said.

Albany Senior High School principal Claire Amos said students’ were lagging earlier in the year.

“We definitely were concerned in the middle of the year because those disruptions early in the year meant that our young people were not getting their credits at the pace that they usually would and I think that you can’t under-estimate the over-arching impact that three years of disruptions has had on our young people,” she said.

Achievement had improved thanks to a lot of hard work from teachers, Amos said.

Nelson College principal Richard Dykes said he was worried earlier in the year and though he was now a lot happier about his students’ progress he was not completely confident.

“Our tracking data is positive but given the disruption and the turbulence of this year I just don’t feel like I can really have confidence in that data and really I’m just waiting to see what comes out next year. I think the numbers could go either way.”

Some students were doing fewer exams than normal but that was probably due to changes to NCEA rather than the effects of the pandemic, Dykes said.

“I suppose that reflects the more internal nature of NCEA these days. It’s a natural process that we’re seeing less students turn up to exams because more students are now sitting internal assessments or they might be doing portfolio work,” he said.

Year 13s were most affected by this year’s disruptions and had relatively high rates of absenteeism, Dykes said.

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