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Friday, October 26, 2007

NCEA Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

Rigorous external exams are no longer the norm in our secondary schools.

The "caring and feelgood" National Certificate of Educational Achiement has been with us a few years now. NCEA students are now entering the universities, where examinations are the norm and students are still measured against their peers.

How is the NCEA "crop" measuring up?

I got this email today from a friend at Waikato University.

I tutor second and third year at Waikato and I recently had some really interesting discussions with some of the lecturers, which have been stewing in my brain for a while. This year's third years are (mostly) the first group to come through university with NCEA rather than Bursary. And there is anecdotal evidence at least that they are different to previous years. The lecturers have been talking about how they are generally less interested in working, unmotivated and have been trained to search for the easiest options.

It comes through in the questions they ask and their approach to assignments. It's most obvious right now because there are still a few bursary students around. The A-grade range is still there, but there is a drop in the B-range and more people in the C-range. The assignments do not change much from year to year so NCEA would appear to take away motivation for those who are very capable but not exceptional, which is the majority. No doubt you will appreciate the long-term effect this will have on New Zealand. We already have six more years of mediocre students coming up and that's only if NCEA is scrapped this summer, which won't happen.

Are the NCEA chickens coming home to roost? Have we killed the chicken that laid the golden educational egg?


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