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Students hopeful NCEA changes with balance out Covid-19 impacts

High school students are welcoming further changes to the NCEA secondary school qualification helping to address disruptions to learning caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.

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Among the changes: easing requirements for university entrance and bonus credits. Source: 1 NEWS

Students will get an extra credit for every five earnt, up to a maximum of 10 additional credits at NCEA level one and an additional eight credits at level two and three.

There will also be reduced credit requirements for approved subjects for university entrance and a lower 46 credit requirement for Merit and Excellence certificate endorsements instead of 50 and lower course endorsement requirements as part of the latest temporary changes.

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“I kind of like lost hope in going to uni… after the pandemic. And then finding out that they're going to reduce the amount of credits that are going to be offered gives me hope again to keep on striving,” Tangaroa College student Malia Kolo said.

“We come from a deprived community. Like, some students don't have the accessibility to wi-fi, which was a huge impact… I think that was the main impact our students had. They couldn't finish assignments,” she said.

Student Makana O-Maui Uele is also feeling relieved to hear about the NCEA changes, helping to ease the pressure on senior students.

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Exams will be pushed back and there will be extensions for practical subjects. Source: 1 NEWS

“It'll help us a lot, especially after this lockdown. We're all stressed out and all we need is less work so lowering down these credits will help us to achieve our goals,” he said.

Tangaroa College principal Davida Suasua said the announcement provides some breathing room for students and is a step forward, but she doesn’t know if it goes far enough.

“That’s possibly one or two standards short for where they can just remove a standard from one of their courses,” she said.

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Last month, the Government announced initial measures to help ensure students’ NCEA qualifications are not unfairly affected by remote learning including external exams and portfolio deadlines being delayed.

NZQA and the Ministry of Education are also working on how schools can be supported to assess student learning and skills during lockdown against relevant assessment standards.

"Schools can already assess these types of skills within NCEA. We’ve heard that students have had many valuable learning experiences, both inside and outside the home during this time, and we want to make sure that there are no barriers to recognising this learning if it can be appropriately evidenced and assessed," a NZQA spokesman said.

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Ms Suasua said Tangaroa College is working to try help some students in this way.

“We did a bit of a survey with our senior students… who is currently employed but also looked at who is actually in charge of youth group, in charge of any responsibility at churches, whether it’s with pre-school… toddlers in their classes and what skills they're actually doing with in those areas and how we're able to link it for their learning to be able to be assessed,” she said.

Extra tuition to help students catch up with assessments post-lockdown is also happening every afternoon at the college.

Universities New Zealand chief executive Craig Whelan said universities acknowledge temporary changes to university entrance had to be made due to Covid-19 but concerns about whether some students will be ready for university next year remain.

“We’ve spent quite a bit of time investigating that. We do think there’ll probably be a few students that are going to get through that are going to need more support next year, but look, we think it’s better to do that than students who would otherwise get UE missing out,” he said.

“We don’t want to admit any student that we’re not going to support through to success. We just  need to be pretty certain that even with support they’re going to succeed.”

Mr Whelan said universities are still hoping they can rely on the university entrance requirement as a good measure that a student will be capable of studying at a university level.