The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) has a long history of advocacy for standards-based assessment for student qualifications that dates back as far as the 1960’s. The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is a standards-based assessment qualification system that combines internal assessment by teachers for parts of subjects with external assessment through national exams or portfolio assessment for other parts of subjects.
PPTA continues to assess NCEA against eight criteria
An expert panel set up by PPTA in the 1990’s argued that an educationally valid qualifications system is fair, inclusive, cumulative, clear, motivating, coherent, constructive and manageable. Over the years since NCEA began in 2002, the union has assessed and re-assessed the qualification against these eight criteria. Refinements to the qualification over the years mean that it would be fair to say that it now meets all of these criteria except the final one, “manageable”.
The workload impacts of the NCEA have been the subject of many annual conference debates, research projects, and initiatives by the union. Despite these problems, though, there would be very few PPTA members who would wish to return to the previous norm-referenced qualifications system that resulted in widespread failure and which failed to deliver valid assessment of the wide range of knowledge and skills that is represented in the achievement and unit standards that students can now credit to their NCEA qualifications.
National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)
The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the national qualification for New Zealand secondary schools. It is a standards-based assessment qualification system that combines internal assessment by teachers for parts of subjects with external assessment through national exams or portfolio assessment for other parts of subjects.
For each curriculum-referenced subject, there are a number of achievement standards which provide “credits” towards the qualification, and which students can achieve at three different grade levels: Achieved, Merit and Excellence.
NCEA is a multi-field qualification on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, and students can also credit towards an NCEA qualification a range of unit standards from industry and other areas. Most unit standards do not have grade levels available, and are simply reported as Achieved/Not Achieved.