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Confidence in NCEA results as November exams roll on

Secondary school students across New Zealand kicked off their NCEA exams this week, and despite it having been yet another year that’s featured classroom disruptions, Wairarapa principals are confident their students are on track to pass their exams.

This year’s school disruptions – due to teacher strikes and extreme weather events – meant there hasn’t been a year since the first covid lockdown in 2020 unaffected by disturbances.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority [NZQA] deputy chief executive of assessment Jan Marshall said more than 145,000 Kiwi students are sitting 138 NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exams during November.

The Times-Age approached seven of the region’s secondary schools to ask how they have managed their students’ academic performance despite this year’s ongoing interruptions to students’ learning. Only two responded.

Wairarapa College principal Matt White said that his staff have been flexible and adjusted courses to provide every opportunity for students to gain success.

“These include changing assessment dates and offering extra tutoring. We have not made significant changes to the balance of internals and externals and do not believe students are relying on externals more than in previous years,” White said.

Wairarapa College is also remaining open during exams so that senior students to meet with their teachers and to study.

Meanwhile, Solway College principal Janine Tupaea said disruption to students’ learning this year was minimalised by ensuring their routines were kept as normal as possible.

“Students still attended onsite school on their rostered strike days and continued with their normal timetables, although the learning was supervised in the dining room by the principal,” Tupaea said.

“This decision was made in the interest of minimising the impact on students’ learning, but also in the interest of students’ wellbeing, as the connections that are formed and experienced by students attending school each day are so important for young people’s development and wellbeing.”

Tupaea said she is confident her school will be on track to achieving 100 per cent at NCEA Levels 1, 2, and 3.

The final NCEA exams end on November 30 with level 1 social studies, level 2 dance, and earth and space science.

NZQA’s finalised data for 2022 results, released in April of this year, showed that while attainment at all levels of NCEA and University Entrance [UE] had declined compared to 2021, attainment of NCEA Level 3 and UE had remained slightly higher than in 2019.

Attainment of NCEA Level 1 among Year 11 students in 2022 was 65 per cent, compared to 70 per cent in 2021 and 71 per cent in 2019.

“Attainment of NCEA Level 1 in Year 11 has been decreasing steadily since 2017, except for a slight increase between 2019 and 2020. This reflects a trend of some schools moving away from offering a full NCEA Level 1 programme in Year 11, focussing instead on achieving NCEA Level 2 in Year 12,” NZQA’s Jann Marshall said.

On the other hand, attainment of NCEA Level 2 among Year 12 students decreased by 3 percentage points from 2021 [a decrease of 2.6 per cent compared to 2019], while achievement of Level 3 in Year 13 declined by 2.3 per cent from 2021 – an increase of 0.9 per cent compared to 2019.

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