The impact on students with extra learning needs with more external assessment was a concern under new education measures announced by the Government on Monday.
Patrick Walsh, principal at John Paul College in Rotorua, says he’s also concerned for students who did not perform “particularly well” in exams.
Patrick is responding to a decision by the Government to dispense with charging fees for NCEA ($76.50) and scholarships ($30), effective immediately.
Patrick, who is also the regional lead for the NCEA review in the Bay of Plenty region, is speaking as JPC principal.
He says the NCEA fees affected some families, saying education in this country was free under Education Act.
“In the past, the NCEA fees were a barrier to some families.
“And I take the view that education in NZ is free under the Education Act, which should have always extended to signing up to NCEA as a qualification.”
The former national president of the Principals’ Association and lawyer says literacy and numeracy had been declining.
“In terms of literacy and numeracy, the results have been declining in NZ schools for some time now and this also by international comparisons.
“If a student is not ‘literate and numerate’, it will severely limit their education and life choices so the renewed emphasis on literacy and numeracy is welcomed.”
In his view he said it would mean in “a lot more professional development for teachers and big injection” of bringing back the ESOL advisers to schools.
“In general, the changes to NCEA should make it a more academically robust, streamlined, reduce
work load for teachers and students and a more credible qualification.
“I am, however, concerned about the impact on students with additional learning needs with more external assessment and students who don’t perform particularly well in exams.
“More support will be needed in these areas.”
An estimated 145,000 households are slated to benefit from the removal of the NCEA fee families pay every year.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins says as part of the Wellbeing Budget fees were being abolished “to make things a bit easier for families”.
Changes, to be phased in over four years starting next year, are part of a major overhaul of the qualification.
Level one of the NCEA will stay. The number of credits required for each level were 80.
Credits from lower levels will no longer count toward higher levels of the qualification. Students will not be allowed to resubmit assignments unless they are trying to improve from a fail grade.
New externally-marked 20-credit literacy and numeracy benchmark will be introduced.
The single common benchmark in English and te reo Māori will provide a clear standard to evaluate performance and level of quality across literacy and numeracy, says the NCEA document.