NCEA Online Q and A

Below are some of the common questions regarding NCEA Online. If you have a question that is not covered here, please email ncea.online@nzqa.govt.nz

What is happening?

What is NCEA Online?

NCEA Online reflects the digital, connected world students today live in and is the option for students to sit some of their exams using web-based software managed by NZQA.   Students can opt in to sit exams online at the same time and location others complete exams on paper.

What's different in 2020?

This year students will be able to sit 21 NCEA external exam subjects over 58 sessions using digital devices. The subjects are across Levels 1-3 (except where indicated) as follows:

Agricultural & Horticultural Science

Art History

Business Studies

Chinese

Classical Studies

Education for Sustainability (L2 only)

English

French

German

Health

History

Home Economics

Japanese

Latin (L1 & 2 only)

Media Studies

Psychology

Sāmoan

Social Studies

Spanish

Te Reo Māori

Te Reo Rangatira

Paper based exams will also continue to be available for all subjects as the transition to digital assessment continues over the next few years.

How are you incorporating the suggestions made by students and teachers?

To design a great user experience, NZQA uses survey and workshop feedback from students, teachers, markers, Principal’s Nominees and Exam Centre Managers, targeted design sessions with students, as well as researching what is happening internationally. In 2020 there will be limited change to how students complete digital exams with more updates planned for 2021.

How many students and schools participated in digital exams in 2019?

Approximately 14,400 students from 202 schools nationwide completed digital NCEA exams for 14 subjects.  This represented 11.2% of students with externally assessed results.

Will students be advantaged or disadvantaged depending on the type of exam they sit?

As in previous years, the digital exams in 2020 are digital versions of those on paper. The same resources and questions are presented to students completing either the paper or digital versions. Students can demonstrate the same knowledge and skills whether they complete the paper or digital exam. The analysis of the delivery of pilot exams in 2018 (PDF, 674KB) shows there is no specific advantage or disadvantage of digital or paper.  

Why – the rationale

Why does NZQA see online assessment as the future?

Digital learning teaching and assessment help students prepare for how they will work, live and continue to learn in the 21st century. Students use technology for much of their learning and it doesn’t make sense for students to complete their exams using pen and paper if that's not how they are used to learning.  NCEA Online is working to align assessment with the way students use (and will continue to use) digital devices every day. Students tell us this is how they want to sit their exams.

Will digital assessment improve educational outcomes?

Digital assessment will provide better data and insights about how students respond to questions.  This will be useful for teachers designing classroom learning and will help in developing future exam questions so students can best show what they know and the skills they have learned.

Does digital assessment provide more equitable opportunities for Māori and Pasifika students?

Digital assessment has the potential to improve the equity of NCEA outcomes for Māori and Pasifika students. For example, personalised learning pathways that include digital assessment have the potential to engage more students in new ways more relevant to their individual needs and their culture.

Why is NZQA introducing digital exams when some schools are not yet ready to teach and assess in this way?

Schools are at different stages in their approach to digital teaching and so we will continue to offer paper-based exams as schools transition towards digital exams.

The Ministry of Education has guidance on school use of digital technology and Enabling e-Learning.

Can digital assessment assist students who apply for special assessment conditions?

Digital exams provide some level of Special Assessment Condition (SAC) accessibility. Over time, we will add to the current accessibility and usability options of spellcheck, font changes and resizable screens.

For more information on Special Assessment Conditions see here.

When - the timeframes

Which subjects are available as digital NCEA exams in 2020?

NZQA plans to deliver 21 text-based digital exam subjects in 2020, comprising 58 exam sessions across Levels 1-3:

Agricultural & Horticultural Science

Art History

Business Studies

Chinese

Classical Studies

Education for Sustainability (L2)

English

French

German

Health

History

Home Economics

Japanese

Latin (L1 and 2)

Media Studies

Psychology

Sāmoan

Social Studies

Spanish

Te Reo Māori

Te Reo Rangatira

What subjects will be available as digital NCEA exams in future years?

Over the coming years NZQA will further expand the range of subjects and look to deliver exams developed specifically for a digital platform and to incorporate more innovation.  Digital exams are being offered progressively, at a pace that reflects the readiness of the education sector and the availability of technology to support a good student experience.

We will continue working with schools, students, and other experts to ensure the technology delivers a good user experience for each subject before it is offered in NCEA Online. While schools transition towards digital teaching, learning and assessment we will continue offering the paper-based exams.   

Is there a time when exams will be digital only?

There is no specific timeframe for removing NCEA paper-based assessment. Schools are at different stages in their approach to digital teaching and learning. Digital assessment needs to be in sync with that.

How - including training and getting ready

What support is there to help schools and students prepare for digital exams?

NZQA is helping teachers, Exam Centre Managers, supervisors, markers and NZQA staff who support the exam development, delivery and marking to get ready for digital exams.  We are also working with Network for Learning to provide schools with technical support around internet connectivity.

Students can get ready for digital exams through practice activities and by accessing past digital exams. There is also information on device settings.

We’ve dedicated a section of our website to help schools get ready for digital exams.  

How will NZQA ensure there are no technical problems?

NCEA Online is adopting a staged approach. We design, test and evaluate each enhancement, and work with schools so they can carefully prepare themselves and their students.  

NZQA also works with schools to help ensure Exam Centre Managers and supervisors have the right knowledge and skills to support students during exams. 

Technical challenges are a normal part of introducing any major change. NZQA has a range of approaches to reducing the likelihood of these and minimising their impact if they occur. NZQA places a high priority on delivering a good exam experience for any student participating in NCEA Online.      

What approach should schools adopt in the use of devices?

School Boards of Trustees and management decide what devices to use, when and how they use them, and who provides them. Some schools purchase class sets of devices; others run bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programmes; and others work with local trusts to establish affordable lease-to-buy arrangements.  Some schools specify the kind of device they want their students to use to best support their course delivery. Specifying a device can make it easier for teachers to manage and integrate devices for all students’ learning.

The Ministry of Education provides guidance on resourcing and managing digital devices in schools. The Enabling e-Learning website provides educators and students with examples of effective practices at the school level, information about software and licensing, and details of options for developing policies at the school level, including policies for acceptable use.

NZQA provides minimum device specifications minimum device specifications  for NCEA Online which are updated annually.


 

For more information please email: ncea.online@nzqa.govt.nz

Page updated: 31 January 2020

 
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