How NCEA works
NCEA was introduced in 2002 and replaced School Certificate, Sixth Form Certificate, and Bursary. It allows learners to study for three levels of certificate – usually in years 11 to 13 (previously known as fifth, sixth and seventh form).
NCEA is a standards-based qualification. This means that standards of performance have been established for all work done by learners that needs to be assessed or tested. Generally, a traditional school subject (English for example) is divided into 5 to 7 standards, representing particular topics, skills or pieces of knowledge. These standards were developed after extensive consultation with teachers, and are linked to areas of learning identified in the New Zealand Curriculum.
Learners may be tested in several ways: they may sit an examination that covers a set of standards, they may be assessed internally in a series of tests covering individual standards, or, they may be tested using a combination of these approaches. This means that learners, parents, and employers know what parts of a subject have been passed – and learners don’t just get a single mark for an entire subject.
There are two types of standards – unit standards and achievement standards.
Unit standards are tested at school by teachers – this is called internal assessment and learners either reach the required standard of performance and achieve the standard (and get an achieved grade in their results), or they do not achieve the required standard and get not achieved.
Achievement standards are either tested by teachers at schools or at the end of year in national exams. Commonly, learners will be tested using both these methods. For achievement standards, learners will get a not achieved grade if they do not meet the standard, but if they pass they can get achieved (for a satisfactory performance), merit (for very good performance) or excellence (for outstanding performance), depending on how well they answer.
Standards are worth a set number of credits – generally between 2 and 5 credits. To gain NCEA certificates, learners must reach a set total number of credits at each level, made up from achievement or unit standards or a mix of both. This is similar to the way university degrees are awarded.
What is changing?
A range of improvements are planned for NCEA over the next 18 months, designed to help motivate learners and ensure the public has confidence in the system. These changes will not disrupt learners part-way through their studies.
The aim of the changes is to provide more recognition for learners who are performing well, and improve public confidence in the way NCEA operates.
They will not affect the way learners study but there will be changes over the next 18 months in the way results are reported and how NZQA monitors internal assessment.
The improvements include:
Endorsement of Certificates
From this year (2007), learners will be able to gain NCEA certificates with merit or excellence. The more merit and excellence grades they achieve the better the endorsement. Final details on how certificate endorsements will work will be announced by the end of June.
Endorsement of Subjects
From next year (2008), learners will be able to gain merit or excellence in particular subject areas. This means that if they are doing very well in one particular area, that will be recognised in their results.
Not Achieved results
From 2008, if learners do not achieve internal assessments for unit or achievement standards, this will be reported on their annual Result Notices. At the moment, only not achieved for exam results is reported.
From next year, the Record of Learning will be renamed the Record of Achievement to clarify that it records only those standards that have been passed/achieved.
In addition, from next year, school-leavers will also receive a School Results Summary, which will list every standard attempted by learners during their time at school, and what result they achieved. This will include not achieved results.
There are also plans to set up an online system that will allow learners to log on to plan their course and follow their progress towards qualifications.
Currently around 3% of learner work that is tested in schools is checked to ensure that internal assessment by teachers is consistent with national standards. This is about 81,000 samples of learner work.
From next year, this will increase up to 10% - that means about 250,000 samples of learner work will be checked. Random sampling of learner work is also being trialled in September.
Managing National Assessment Reports
Every 3 years, a report is written on how well schools are carrying out internal assessment – the testing done by teachers. These reports will go online on the NZQA website www.nzqa.govt.nz later in the year.
If you have any questions about these improvements, you can visit the Ministry of Education or NZQA websites. Schools will also be kept informed of how the changes are developing.
The main purpose of assessment at Whangaparaoa College is to improve learners’ learning and the quality of learning programmes.
NCEA at Whangaparaoa College
Whangaparaoa College primarily prepares learners for achieving the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). This is New Zealand's main national qualification for secondary school learners and part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Credits towards other national certificates are attainable and can be transferred. This makes all achievement in all learning areas at all levels still valuable for other qualifications
Below is a handbook which you can download as a guide for NCEA. The purpose of this handbook is to outline and explain assessment procedures that will affect learners at Whangaparaoa College in all courses which involve assessment for qualifications. Also included are learner rights and responsibilities with regard to these procedures. This booklet is not intended as a guide for staff. Parents and learners can get further details and or explanations about assessment policy and procedures from staff who have a far more detailed Assessment for Qualifications Handbook for Staff or the NZQA web site (www.nzqa.govt.nz/ncea).
We have adopted college wide procedures that encompass all departments to keep it simpler for learners. Where a variation is necessary you will be informed in writing as part of your course outline. It is important that you read this booklet carefully and keep it in a safe place for further reference.