An overhaul of the NCEA system has been proposed. The government has just opened a public consultation process about changing the way the academic levels of our secondary school students are measured.


The proposed six changes by the Ministry Advisory Group for NCEA are:


1.            Re-imagine NCEA Level 1 so it is focused on ensuring young people are prepared for further study, work, and life as citizens

2.            Strengthen and clarify expectations for literacy and numeracy attainment

3.            Explicitly build into NCEA Levels 2 and 3 a requirement to prepare young people for further study, work, and life

4.            Provide support for teachers, schools, and kura to enable real learning and coherent programmes

5.            Strengthen and enhance the Record of Achievement so it provides a full picture of what young people have achieved

6.            Remove barriers to achieving NCEA, starting with fees, process for accessing Special Assessment Conditions, and access to quality curriculum support materials.


Auckland Girls Grammar teacher Rhonda Tibble agrees with the possible change, saying some whānau struggle to pay the $76 NCEA exam fee.


"Kei te tika, kei te whakaae au ki ēnei arotakenga e ono, i te āhuatanga ko te tango i te utu, he aha hoki ngā rā whakatauritetia ki ēnei o ngā tatauranga - kāore ngā whānau Māori i a rātou tērā moni, mō te 76 tāra."


Tibble says she sees a lot of her students struggle to keep up with the pressures of assignments and exams, sports, cultural and social responsibilities.


"Kei te kite atu he nui te anipā, he nui te mānukanuka o ngā kōtiro ki te kitea atu me pēhea rātou ki te whakariterite te mahi ā0-kura, te mahi o te hākinakina, te mahi o ngā tikanga Māori me ngā mahi kapa haka. Kāore he nui te wā ki a rātou kia tutuki katoa o rātou aromatawai."


Every year around 120,000 learners gain an NCEA qualification. For Te Wharekura o Manurewa principal, Maahia Nathan, the new proposal for NCEA 1 is lowering standards for students.


"Kua kite au kua whakahekea te 80 [whiwhinga] ki te 40, ehara tērā i te mea pai. Mō te marau o te reo Māori, taumata tahi, e rua tekau mā whā ngā whiwhi ka whiwhia e te tamaiti, mēnā ka pāhi te katoa, kua koni atu tērā i te haurua o te whā tekau. He aha hei tū atu i tērā?"


Tibble believes that not only do parents and students need to have their say but communities and iwi need to input whakaaro during the consultation process in order to ensure the changes cater to everyone's needs.


"He aha te kōrero a te hapori? He aha te kōrero a ngā mātua, he aha te kōrero a ngā taitamariki, he aha te kōrero a te iwi Māori? Nō te mea ko te taikaha o te patupatu o te ao mātauranga kei runga i ō mātou rae.


"Nā reira, pehea te whakapiki atu mō tātou te iwi Māori kei raro e putu ana i raro i ēnei tāhuhu tatauranga."


Public consultations will run until September 16, and the Education Minister is expected to announce his findings by February 2019.