History of NCEA

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) was introduced as the main secondary schools qualification between 2002 and 2004. This replaced School Certificate, University Entrance, Sixth Form Certificate and University Bursary qualifications. Since its introduction, some key changes have been made.

Why was NCEA introduced?

In the past students performance in a wider range of competencies and skills was often not taken into account. Exam marks were scaled so that only a certain number of students could pass each year and internal assessments results scaled to match external assessment results, even when assessing completely different skills.

The NCEA system provides a more accurate picture of a student's achievement because a student who has gained credits for a particular standard has demonstrated the required skills and knowledge for that standard. Each student receives a School Results Summary that presents all standards taken throughout their school years, and the results for each, and can order a Record of Achievement listing all standards achieved at school and beyond.

Since NCEA was introduced, more students are leaving school with qualifications. NCEA is accepted both in New Zealand and overseas by most employers and universities.

NCEA timeline

The following summarised timeline shows how NCEA has evolved:

  • Late 1997, the New Zealand Government announced a policy called ‘Achievement 2001’, involving a complete overhaul of the secondary school qualifications system. Under the new system, students would be assessed at three, or possibly four, levels of the same qualification, to be called the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, which would be registered on the National Qualifications Framework.

  • In 2000, the start date for the new qualification was delayed a year, to 2002, because the system was deemed to be not ready, either at school level or at central agency level.

  • In 2002, NCEA Level 1 was introduced and the first group of students and teachers began to experience the new qualification.

  • Over 2003 and 2004, Levels 2 and 3 were introduced, and also the separate Scholarship examination, which was registered on the Framework at Level 4, but whose content was derived from the Level 3 standards.

  • As each level was introduced, the previous qualification at that level was discontinued, except the Year 12 qualification, Sixth Form Certificate, which was allowed to continue for a further two years by schools that were not ready to move to Level 2 in 2003.

  • In September 2004, the Minister of Education, Hon. Trevor Mallard, announced at a PPTA Annual Conference, that there would be a low-key review of the NCEA system during 2005, to inform strategic planning of future work to refine the qualification system.

  • By the end of 2004, the qualification was firmly entrenched in New Zealand schools, and the first phase of implementation was complete.

  • In November 2006, a new-look Record of Learning and Result Notice was developed.

  • In 2007, a suite of improvements to the NCEA were announced by the Minister of Education. Among the first to be announced in July was NCEA certificate endorsement designed to recognise student achievement at Merit or Excellence level across all learning areas. In November, 'Managing National Assessment' reports for secondary schools were made available online.

  • From the beginning of 2008, full-time moderators took up their appointments as part of a process to increase the amount of internally assessed student work undergoing moderation (approximately 10%).

  • Reporting of Not Achieved results was introduced for internally assessed standards, and in March, a new monitoring process was announced, which would compare internal and external assessment data for NCEA.

  • In April 2008 , the Record of Learning was renamed Record of Achievement, to better reflect its purpose. In May, random selection of internally assessed student work for external moderation was introduced, to increase public confidence in the credibility of internal assessment.

  • In June 2008, the process began to review and align standards with the new New Zealand Curriculum (developed by the Ministry of Education) and address issues such as credit parity and duplication. Newly aligned standards are due to be introduced progressively, with level 1 standards first, in 2011.

  • In May 2009, new-look statistics pages were released on the NZQA website, including data based on participation, gender and ethnicity.

  • In July 2009, consultation was completed on the draft level 1 standards and draft level 1-3 subject matrices. New rules on further assessment opportunities for internally assessed standards were introduced in July 2009, allowing one further assessment opportunity (re-sit) per student per standard per year.
  • In April 2010, Education Minister Anne Tolley announced the introduction of Course Endorsement for NCEA, to begin in 2011.  Course Endorsement enables students with strong performances in individual courses to gain Excellence or Merit endorsements in those courses.  Students will receive an Excellence endorsement for a course if they gain 14 credits at Excellence level, while students gaining 14 credits at Merit (or Merit and Excellence) will gain a Merit endorsement.  To ensure students are capable of performing well in both modes of assessment, in most courses at least three of the 14 credits must be from internally assessed standards, and three from externally assessed standards. 

    Where did NCEA come from?

    In the article 'Where did NCEA come from?' published in QANews #38, June 2001, Bill Lennox looks at where NCEA comes from and the impact of 34 years of 'advocacy' and 'evolution'.

 
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