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NCEA exams move online

Kuranui College principal Simon Fuller. PHOTO/FILE

TOM TAYLOR
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High school students across the country headed into their second week of exams on Monday.

Students had the opportunity to sit some of those exams online. Level 1 French and Level 2 Te Reo Maori were available digitally on Monday.

Yesterday, students sat Level 1 History, Level 2 English and Level 2 Chinese online.

Rathkeale College had 12 students enrolled for Level 1 History online.

Kuranui College principal Simon Fuller said that all Level 2 English students at his school would sit a digital exam.

“That’s where we’ve got to move, so we thought we’d give it a crack this year,” he said of the digital assessments.

Kuranui students would still come into school to sit these exams but would use devices to complete them rather than pen and paper.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority [NZQA] has worked with schools to design digital exams since 2014. In 2019, NZQA offered digital exams for 14 subjects. This year, 21 subjects are offered digitally.

“New Zealand schools are increasingly using digitally enabled teaching and learning, and NCEA assessments need to reflect this,” the NZQA website said.

Schools could still opt for non-digital exams. Wairarapa College’s 159 Level 2 English students would sit their exams in the traditional format, using pens and exam booklets.

This year’s NCEA exams were postponed from November 6 to November 16 to allow students more time to prepare after a year of disruption.

“Kids are as prepared as they’ll ever be,” Kuranui’s Fuller said.

He said that attendance at the exams had been good this year. “We’ve had no dramas.”

Drama was, however, one of the subjects hardest hit by the lockdown earlier this year. Fuller said that students could not access the spaces they needed to complete projects for their portfolios.

Despite these challenges, Kuranui had two students complete their scholarship drama exams last Wednesday.

Art was another subject affected by covid-19, with art portfolios normally taking three-quarters of the school year to complete, according to Fuller.

NZQA shifted the due date for these portfolios from October 28 to November 12, but Fuller said that students lost some momentum during their time away from school.

“You could keep up with your book-based subjects a lot easier than you could your non-book-based subjects.”

Kuranui College adapted its internal assessments to meet the needs of students.

Fuller said that students would now sit internals when they were ready, rather than the school setting a date for all students.

“Kids have certainly become more adaptable.”

More students stayed at Kuranui College for the entire school year compared with previous years.

Fuller said that some Year 13 students would always transition to workplaces or trades throughout the year, but they had seen most students getting stuck back into school this year post-lockdown.

On school-leavers’ work prospects, he said: “If anything they’re probably a bit more determined to get stuck in next year.”

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