Evaluation of 2019 digital exams

17 Jun 2020

An evaluation of the 2019 NCEA Online exams shows the programme is making good progress and students continue to strongly enjoy the digital experience. 97% of students responding to the survey were overall satisfied with the experience.

In 2019 around three times the students and four times the schools participated in digital exams compared with the previous year. A summary of student and school statistics can be found here (PDF, 343KB).

Deputy Chief Executive Digital Assessment Transformation, Andrea Gray, said she was delighted to see the growth in participation, especially Māori and Pacific students, and that 134 of the schools were new to NCEA Online.

“I’m also pleased the small number of issues were quickly resolved and no candidate was adversely affected. One highlight was that Network for Learning was able to ensure a school undergoing a security attack could continue with its digital exam.”

An analysis comparing students’ results from digital and paper formats found there was no evidence of any difference between the two. The report can be found here.

The evaluation included an analysis of a post-exam survey, whose results are being used to action areas for the programme, in collaboration with schools and the education sector.

Key statistics include:

  • 14,343 students from 197 schools completed at least one digital exam in 2019
  • 11.3% of the results from the exams offered digitally were from those completed digitally
  • 11.1% of students sitting external exams had at least one digital result
  • NZQA received 3,888 survey responses from 3,652 students attending 190 schools
  • 97% of survey respondents were highly positive about completing exams online, saying they find typing is faster and easier than writing, their hands do not get sore, and it’s easier to edit.
  • 92.88% of respondents said digital was preferable to paper-based, compared with 95% in both 2017 and 2018
  • 11% of Māori and 6.9% of Pacific students completed exams digitally
  • 59.48% of students used their own devices with the rest using those provided at school. Fewer Māori and Pacific students used their own devices
  • Only 2.4% of the digital exam survey respondents had not used digital technology for homework or assessments.
  • 134 schools had not participated in digital exams previously.
  • 136 schools used the Network for Learning (N4L) assurance check
  • Schools are participating across all decile ranges, though there are proportionally more digital results coming from higher decile schools, which tend to be larger than lower decile schools
  • Schools from around the country are participating in NCEA Online, with Canterbury, Marlborough, Otago, Tasman and West Coast having 50% or more of the schools participating
  • The West Coast had 20% of all its students’ results from their participation in NCEA Online.

On 13 June the Government announced funding for NCEA Online which will ensure digital exams remain part of New Zealand’s assessment toolkit.

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