Annual Report 2012/13

NZQA’s performance

NZQA’s outcomes focus is on ensuring New Zealand qualifications are increasingly valued as credible and robust

In order to achieve this, NZQA has worked to: 

  • enhance quality in senior secondary assessment and tertiary education
  • improve the usefulness of qualification pathways for learners and whānau in order to inform decision-making
  • make qualifications more relevant to employers, iwi, industry; to better match their needs
  • increase the recognition and portability of New Zealand qualifications.

NZQA will measure the impact it is having through:

  • reviewing its senior secondary assessment practices in 2014
  • implementing recommendations from the independent evaluation of NZQA’s evaluative quality assurance framework undertaken in 2012
  • conducting a review of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework in 2013
  • an independent evaluation2 in 2018 of NZQA’s work with stakeholders to ensure that qualifications are useful and relevant to future learners, employers and other stakeholders
  • recognition of qualification arrangements with other countries.

NZQA also contributes to education sector system performance indicators and the Government’s Better Public Services programme. NZQA operates in the senior secondary and tertiary environment, meaning that Better Public Services targets 5 and 6 are relevant to NZQA’s work. Those targets are:

  • 85 per cent of 18 year-olds will have achieved NCEA Level 2 or an equivalent qualification in 2017
  • 55 per cent of 25 to 34 year-olds will have a qualification at level 4 or above in 2017.

The selection of NCEA Level 2 and NZQF Level 4 targets underscores the importance of qualifications as a way of documenting the transfer of knowledge and skills, and creating a pathway for learners into higher education.

NZQA’s role is to provide assurance to New Zealanders that the quality of qualifications is maintained whilst better results are achieved.

NZQA’s performance against its 2012/13 – 2014/15 Statement of Intent is described on the following pages.

Why this is important

Education has an integral place in our society, providing the knowledge and skills needed for people to become employable graduates who are themselves capable of creating new skills and knowledge.

Qualifications provide documentation of the transfer of knowledge and skills. Learners, education providers, employers and the community, need to be assured that New Zealand qualifications will meet their expectations – for further study, for employment, for making positive contributions to the community and to wider society. Higher quality in New Zealand’s senior secondary assessment and tertiary education, leads to education providers, employers and the community, valuing the qualifications gained by learners.

As referenced in the Starpath project3 at the University of Auckland, learners often experience success, for the first time, through the achievement of a national secondary school qualification. Having a positive learning experience in secondary school education sets a solid foundation for further success in higher levels of education.

NZQA data on the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) indicates that students who stay at school until Year 13, and achieve at least NCEA Level 2, are well prepared for further learning or work.

There is a high correlation between success in NCEA and success at University as both systems rely on continuous assessment around research, project work, essay writing and problem solving – modern skills in a system designed to validate the widest possible skill set of the learner.

The flexibility that NCEA offers enables students to follow varying pathways that are relevant to their learning or vocational interests.

People benefit hugely from participating in tertiary education. A positive relationship has been shown to exist between the proportion of the workforce with higher-level tertiary qualifications and the earning potential of that workforce. A well-qualified workforce is more likely to have the necessary skills and knowledge for effectively contributing to the economy, and will therefore be more valued by employers. Good careers are associated with better health, better well-being and more satisfying lives.4 Graduates of tertiary education earn substantially more than upper secondary graduates who earn more than those whose attainment does not go beyond basic education.5

NZQA's impact

New Zealand qualifications are increasingly valued as credible and robust, both nationally and internationally. This is demonstrated through:

  • the strength of New Zealand’s senior secondary education assessment system as  recognised by:
  • the OECD, finding that NCEA examinations have acquired a high level of credibility 
  • the New Zealand Council for Education Research, finding that over 75 per cent of participants in NZQA run best practice workshops gained increased confidence in making assessment decisions
  • The Office of the Auditor-General, finding that “students, their parents, caregivers, employers and tertiary education institutions can be confident that NZQA has effective systems to support the consistency and quality of internal assessment for NCEA”
  • an international, independent panel finding New Zealand’s evaluative tertiary quality assurance system, including MM EQA, is the right approach, and that NZQA has made a successful start in its implementation6
  • stakeholders working together to improve the qualification system
  • increased international demand from countries wanting to work with New Zealand on the mutual portability and recognition of qualifications.


2  The independent evaluation has been scheduled for 2018 to allow time for New Zealand qualifications arising from the Targeted Review of Qualifications and mandatory reviews to be used, and for employers, industry and other stakeholders to gauge their utility.

3  Madjar, I. and McKinley, E. (2011), Understanding NCEA NZCER Press.

4  Earl, D. (2009) Skills, qualifications and wages: An analysis from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey
Wellington: Ministry of Education. 

5  OECD (2012) Education Today 2013:  The OECD perspective,OECD publishing

6  NZQA commissioned a panel to conduct an independent evaluation of NZQA’s Evaluative Quality Assurance Framework (PDF, 277KB), with report findings released in October 2012.

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