What Kiwis Say About NZ: NCEA “We Used To Call This Cheating”

Welcome to the next installment in our series of what Kiwis say about NZ – first hand accounts of life in New Zealand from the people who actually live there.

The highly regarded state  Auckland Grammar School  recently announced its decision to abandon the NCEA examination system in preference for the Cambridge Examination System. It will however be allowing some of its less academic students to study NCEA Maths and English.

Other schools may follow suit unless the government can head off the rebellion at the pass.

“…it comes as a surprise that Auckland Grammar School has decided to largely abandon NCEA at the first level of senior examinations this year, and that two other schools, St Peter’s College and Macleans College, are said to be considering a similar step if Auckland Grammar can get away with it.” from a NZ Herald editorial in which it concluded that AGS should “think again.”

The NCEA is unique to New Zealand, where the Cambridge exams are often dismissed as a “third world” system.

The New Zealand public has had its say on the proposed changes. Here’s what some of the readers of The New Zealand Herald have been saying in response to an editorial on the matter

ShQQta (Glenfield)

I am an experienced teacher of mathematics in a large, successful state secondary school. My students tend to do quite well under NCEA. However, the NCEA ideology of slicing a subject into isolated and vaguely described “standards” with a preponderance of teacher-judged and school written internal assessment is both intellectually bankrupt and morally indefensible.

Students routinely do much better in the internals compared to external examinations because teachers can teach exactly what is in the test. We used to call this cheating. This artificially inflates the achievement of weaker learners and is both demotivating and unfair for the above average students, encouraging mediocrity.

It also means that students are over assessed, and teachers spend too long worrying that their assessments meet some waffley “standard” and dealing with bureaucratic paperwork requirements. NCEA’s standards-based assessment is a joke, and I salute Auckland Grammar for making this stand in the interest of both their students and staff.”  (liked by 73 people)

aardvarkash10 (New Zealand)

Forget it AGS is not an educational facility per-se. It is an extension of corporate Auckland where legions of young men are trained to comply rather than to question and explore.

Getting out of NCEA supports this approach – the Cambridge examination has a much lower level of transperancy and so its far easier to maintain compliance – there is nothing to question.

Interesting that Morris “expects” rather than anticipates his student to follow his lead. I wonder what will happen to those who fail to meet his expectations? (17 likes)

Odette (New Zealand)

“It’s this sort of commentary which is at the heart of the mediocrity this country has come to accept.

Instead of asking the question “Why does Auckland Grammar School feel compelled to pursue other examination methods?” the editor chooses to make veiled insinuations about the integrity of the decision “Why should Auckland Grammar get away with it?”

It’s rather simple – while so many state school are happy with a that enables the manipulation of student achievement, Auckland Grammar would prefer it students to be striving for excellence so that they can succeed outside the school system.

Catering to the lowest denomination of achievement has never inspired excellence. To raise the bar is to improve – to the bar, as with NCEA, is to demonstrate the mediocrity of okay.

Let’s not forget that New Zealand has distinguished itself as having one of the highest 1st year tertiary enrolments statistics in the OECD – yet the one of the highest dropout rates after that year.

Perhaps Auckland Grammar is the only school prepared to properly prepare their students for greater academic achievement and the PPTA is notable for nothing more than misplaced militancy. (47 likes)

the rain girl (New Zealand)

“Re “Despite a long gestation it arrived without coherent standards or any incentive for students to achieve better than average, and because most of the marking was to be done by the class teacher rather than externally there were concerns at how nationally consistent results could be assured.”

Your editorialist should think through his own all revealing statement.It alone proves that the NCEA was set up to a purely politicised agenda – to assist in the further dumbing down of education in this country.

Good teachers had to fight tooth and nail to force it to even recognise merit passes (!) and to make its politburo reluctantly acknowledge how easily fiddled the could be by incompetent class teachers.

Now the bully boys and girls are at it again, wanting Auckland Grammar punished. Grow up! It’s up to parents and schools alone to choose a superior according to superior standards. It is not up to Anne Tolley to force them into a they writely the judge judge isn’t performing.”  (31 likes)

KPetrie (New Zealand)

“I sat the very first set of NCEA level 1 examinations in 2002. I went to a state school and I wish I had been given the opportunity to sit Cambridge exams. NCEA is a flawed system. It did not encourage me to strive for high marks as regardless of whether you get an achieved or an excellence, you still get the same amount of credits. This did not prepare me for university at all.

I dont know where people are getting the idea that durring the whole year students are sitting tests. I was a science student through out my 3 years of NCEA. The majority of my credits came from end of year exams, with one or two tests throughout the year. Also NCEa is not an internationally recognised qualification, even the Australians don’t understand it nor accept it.

I don’t anyone can comment about the merits of NCEA when they don’t have to deal with the fallout of having sat a qualification that has been plagued by controversy. Just as well I obtained a University qualifation and am not having to rely on my High School education to get a job, unlike other unlucky people.”

Odette (New Zealand)

“Editorial comment on NCEA *The questions involve research rather than rote learning. They reflect a curriculum that aims to encourage inquiry and discovery rather than the transmission of accepted wisdom.*

Yet it is accepted that Cambridge examinations require a much higher degree of commitment and academic thinking to achieve good grade.

Lets face it – skills like Maths and Chemistry shouldn’t really be up for discussion.

Added to that – it’s a good lesson for students to understand pressure. Yes it’s tough – but so is the rest of life. I for one have observed extremely high levels of parental intervention in NCEA assessments for project work (credits). I wonder how many parents will be in a work place to guide junior through a challenging problem – not many.  Setting kids up for a really big wake up call once they hit the real world?! I think so!

To say that NCEA is in any way comparable to the achievement for the Cambridge examinations is entirely spurious.

This article is *manufacturing* arguments to support NCEA when it is clear that the qualification is sub-standard in comparison to the Cambridge examinations.”


7 thoughts on “What Kiwis Say About NZ: NCEA “We Used To Call This Cheating”

  1. P Ray :
    People who only have NCEA Level 3 technical qualifications (not degrees) …
    are servicing data centres in NZ. (That would be the license holder of the GIF file format, “U…..”)
    Feeling better already?
    “Attitude and experience are more important than education”.
    Okay then, hire a butcher to perform surgery…

    Exactly: Thus the term “Work harder, not smarter” comes to mind.

    • I Hate the NCEA system and here’s why:

      It’s a pretentious playground for schools now, yes even High School’s (High Schools the most, really).

      Think of it like this: I can’t achieve jack fucking shit because someone tampered with my assignment and gave the grade to someone else, I wasn’t aware at the time and they also made more mistakes; which made my life a living fucking hell!

      People here said it wakes them up…. From what? Having no job because someone who constantly needs to be reminded over how much of a twat they are compared to me gets better grades which is unfair intentionally? That’s fucking ridiculous! Why should I be a puppet of someone Else’s game when I’m not the one with a silver spoon shoved up my ass!

      To make matters worse, people who don’t understand the shit I went through these past years rub it in even more so by saying “hurr, life isn’t fair, I made it that way by insulting you because I’m a wanker and that’s life”, let me tell you something.

      Life isn’t about being a wanker, so fuck off and let me get a job with some decency, don’t rub it in that working harder, not smarter is the way we are going…. If not already have been going *Facepalm*.

      Life isn’t about anything, it’s just there! We give ourselves purpose, not you. We need to decide for ourselves, not some wanker in a chair watching porn!

      • People who only have NCEA Level 3 technical qualifications (not degrees) …
        are servicing data centres in NZ. (That would be the license holder of the GIF file format, “U…..”)
        Feeling better already?
        “Attitude and experience are more important than education”.
        Okay then, hire a butcher to perform surgery…

  2. Oh, and before I forget, while at University the students would badger the lecturers for tips as well as try to gain extra marks – especially so in the subjects where essay writing and not demonstrable, results-based outcomes were required. It does make it harder to assess qualities of graduates when papers based around writing and argumentation have such things occur in the course of studies, and for those who got along exceptionally well (socially) with teachers, it is probable that some may have had their grades inflated or maintained… which counts for the long term as “sociability” and who you know seems to count for more than whether you can get the job done in small economies like New Zealand. Effectively, this means that there is a great likelihood that competent people who don’t play the ego-massaging game will have to either a. work in a field where they are not qualified, b. support questionable practices or c. leave New Zealand for better opportunities elsewhere.
    Now it’s easy to see why Kiwis leave Godzone…

    • The grade wrangling is discussed at some length here:
      “Many students last semester who received B’s fell off their rockers. Even though they should have received C’s and D’s for shoddy work. (I was told to reserve C’s for the absolutely most appalling work.)

      I had to fail one student for TRULY bad work and she cried openly and told anyone who would listen how AWFUL I am, trying to get me fired, because I said “Okay, let me tell you why you failed.” She wouldn’t even listen. Her behavior managed to get her a B from someone higher up!!!”

  3. To put things in perspective, I had a qualification in A-Level Mathematics before I decided to proceed with my degree at University. I didn’t want to walk in unprepared, and leave without a degree.
    At the University, I was amazed at people studying to become teachers, that did not know how to deal with fractions.
    Some of them managed to become teachers, is anybody afraid of what the future holds?

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