COVID-19: NCEA and University Entrance changes for 2020

3 Jun 2020

Additional changes to NCEA and University Entrance (UE) give students a fair opportunity to achieve qualifications and awards despite the disruption to teaching, learning and assessment from COVID-19, while preserving the integrity of NCEA and UE. These changes apply only for 2020.

The additional changes are:

  • Students working towards an NCEA can gain additional credits, based on the number of credits they achieve during the 2020 school year (after 1 March 2020). For every 5 credits a student achieves towards their NCEA through internal or external assessment, they can be awarded an additional 1 credit. Students at NCEA Level 1 are eligible for up to a maximum of 10 additional credits while those at Levels 2 or 3 are eligible for up to a maximum of 8 additional credits. These will be known as Learning Recognition (LR) credits.
  • Students will be awarded a certificate endorsement if they achieve 46 credits at Merit or Excellence level, rather than the usual 50. Students achieving 12 credits at Merit or Excellence level in a course – rather than 14 – will be awarded a course endorsement.
  • Current UE requirements have been reduced to 12 credits in three UE-approved subjects, from 14 credits in each of three approved subjects. Students still need to attain NCEA Level 3 and meet the literacy and numeracy requirement to be awarded University Entrance.

Information is also available in the following Pacific languages: Cook Islands Māori, Vagahau Niue, Fijian, Gagana Sāmoa, Tokelauan, Tongan and Tuvaluan.

Changes to NCEA

For every 5 credits a student attains towards their NCEA through internal or external assessment, they will be entitled to one extra “Learning Recognition” credit. Students undertaking NCEA Level 1 are eligible for up to a maximum of 10 additional credits while those at Levels 2 or 3 are eligible for up to a maximum of 8 additional credits.

This means students who keep making progress towards an NCEA will have a way to recognise learning which they have done but may not have been able to recognise through a specific assessment standard.

NZQA will calculate each student’s entitlement for Learning Recognition credits in late January, once students’ results from internal and external assessments are known.

A student who is studying at more than one NCEA level will be entitled to the Learning Recognition credits for the level they are predominantly undertaking in 2020. Where a student continues to work towards that qualification beyond 2020, the entitlement to use their Learning Recognition credits will remain.

University Entrance

The requirements for being awarded UE in 2020 have also been changed, to recognise the impact of the loss of teaching, learning and assessment time on student achievement. This year, students will need to achieve 12 credits, rather than 14 credits, in each of 3 University Entrance Approved Subjects. The need to attain NCEA Level 3 and meet literacy and numeracy requirements remain unchanged.

The changes recognise the disruption caused by COVID-19 to study, while still requiring students to demonstrate a depth and breadth of knowledge which shows they are ready for university.

Students need to ensure they are entered for the standards that they need for the qualification they wish to undertake at university. Students should discuss this with their teachers.

Certificate and Course Endorsements

In line with the other changes, NZQA will recognise the effect of the disruption on students’ opportunity to gain certificate and course endorsements when these are awarded in late January. 

For certificate endorsements:

  • if a student achieves at least 46 credits at Excellence level, NZQA will award an excellence certificate endorsement
  • if a student achieves at least 46 credits at Merit (or a mixture of Merit and Excellence) level, NZQA will award a merit certificate endorsement.

For course endorsements:

  • if a student achieves 12 or more credits at Merit or Excellence level, and meets the requirement of attaining 3 credits from internal assessment and 3 from external assessment, NZQA will award a course endorsement

Background to these changes

These changes to NCEA and UE build on previously announced changes to delay the start of external examinations and submission dates for externally assessed portfolio subjects. The later start dates provide additional time for teaching and learning, and student preparation for end of year examinations. 

The changes are underpinned by the following principles:

  • Students have a fair and equitable opportunity to achieve the qualifications and awards they would have been able to achieve in any other year;
  • Students are engaged and progressing in their assessed learning;
  • Changes are consistent with the integrity and credibility of the qualification; and
  • Changes impose minimal workload on schools.

In addition to the NCEA and UE changes, NZQA has provided schools with standard-specific advice to support distance teaching, learning and assessment, along with resources and information through email updates and the secure Schools Login.

The Ministry of Education has also supported schools, teachers and students, including through the distribution of printed resources and digital devices. More information is available on the Ministry of Education website.

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