I have never been a fan of National Certificate of Educational Achievement. Whilst it was intended to replace a system that did not work for many students I think that there are remedies that with a bit of tweaking would adequately fill in the short comings that existed.
The major short comings in N.C.E.A. are:
- That some of the courses, such as Year 11 English and Mathematics were 100% assessed on the last exam. Despite having numerous assessments throughout the year, they did not account for anything, and were only used in the event that a student could not sit the School Certificate examination (which I think should simply be called Year 11 Maths.
- Unit Standards were intermixed with more conventional assessment methods on traditional courses like history, which I believe were better assessed using conventional methods – my experience on this is based on consecutive years failing Year 12 history in part because of the emphasis on Unit Standards in a subject I honestly did not believe was suited to that.
- A Unit Standard has an overly simplistic marking regime – one can FAIL/PASS or be NOT YET COMPETENT. This was perhaps my biggest gripe as that tells me nothing about my overall performance. Did I do really well and get the equivalent of 90% or something like that? Did I get a bare minimum 51% or was it a total catastrophe in the order of 30% or less?
My solution is not new. But it will provide a robust assessment regime for all students and give those who might not be so strong at exam time an opportunity to show their ability through assignment work and tests.
I recommend going back to to the old framework which will be renamed Year 11, 12 and University Certificate. All courses will have a 1/2 internal assessment component that will test their ability to through practical and theoretical tests as well as examinations. The old scaling system will be removed. What you score is what you get. The only cross marking that will happen will be to make sure all students get subject to the same rigour of assessment.
The option for six subjects will be available to the most able students in Years 11 and 12 if a parent/teachers meeting recommends it. There will be partial scholarships (half annual fees) available to students who get a B average or better (325/500 (5 courses) or 400/600 points (six courses))and full scholarships (full annual fees) for those who achieve an A average or better (400/500 (five courses) or 480/600 points (six courses)).
Perhaps alongside this for those who want to go through a private system, those schools able to afford it might offer their students the opportunity to sit Cambridge or Oxford examinations for high performing students. The Cambridge International Examinations programme is offered at a range of schools in New Zealand by the Association of Cambridge Schools in New Zealand Inc.
Most important to me though would be ensuring that all students in this system or N.C.E.A. are able to participate and not held back by the financial situation of their family.