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NCEA exam extension eases pressure

Schools will have more time to prepare their students for NCEA exams this year. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Story by Tom Taylor

NCEA students can breathe a sigh of relief after the New Zealand Qualifications Authority announced a two-week extension to all exams and portfolio submissions.

Wairarapa students and principals backed the decision to postpone the assessments, but said there could be repercussions for students who had arranged holiday work.

Exams would now be held from Monday, November 22, to Tuesday, December 14.

The dates were similar to last year, when exams were also delayed due to lockdowns. Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced additional support for students last week.

Last year, students gained one Learning Recognition Credit for every five regular credits they earned from NCEA assessments.

The extra credits would return this year if schools were disrupted by alert level 3 or 4 for 20 or more school days.

Wairarapa College principal Matt White supported the reintroduction of the credits.

“All students’ experiences of lockdown will be different, and it is important that no one is disadvantaged as a result.”

As with last year, schools would no longer have to provide Level 1 or 2 Visual Arts portfolios for NZQA to verify.

“This means there will be more time for students to finish their work, and for teachers to mark it,” the NZQA website said.

Makoura College principal Marion Harvey said teachers had received this news with enthusiasm.

“Rejoicing was had in the Visual Arts department when they realised they had a little more time and could continue their support for students.”

Harvey said the extra two weeks before assessments would take a weight off students’ shoulders, especially considering the timing of this year’s lockdown.

“There are pros and cons to it. Because it’s crunch time – Term 3 – our senior students are far more aware of what needs to happen, rather than in Term 1 or 2 where they are still trying to get their heads around what it all means.”

Kuranui College principal Simon Fuller says his school achieved its best ever NCEA results in the wake of last year’s lockdown. PHOTO/FILE

Kuranui College principal Simon Fuller said his school’s semester-based system meant most students already had half of their credits for the year before going into lockdown.

“Semester 1 was done and dusted… It’s Semester 2 that has been impacted rather than a whole year course,” Fuller said.

Kuranui had extended its second semester to match the changes to the NZQA timetable.

“Last year, we did find it was enough time to get the kids what they needed for externals, and our NCEA results were actually the best they’ve ever been.”

Fuller said the most important thing was the schools’ support for their students when they returned from lockdown.

Head girl Briar Matthews said she had spent lockdown catching up on her internal assessments and spending more time with her family.

Matthews said she had an easier time in lockdown this year as she was taking two classes in her strong suit, English. During last year’s lockdown, maths and science classes were more difficult to keep up with online.

“It was quite difficult to maintain the grades I wanted for myself… But when I came out of lockdown, I came back with the right attitude. Like Mr Fuller says, attitude plus attendance equals achievement.”

Matthews said last year’s 10-day delay to exams helped some students, although it interfered with the summer plans of others.

“A lot of people had planned to work – I was going to work full-time. In the end, I felt like it was the right choice, but more student voice should have been heard and inputted into the plans NZQA made.”

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