A qualification to be proud of – I’m just glad I don’t have to do it

With the NCEA qualification up for review it is vital that teachers make their voices heard. Aoraki regional chair Martin Kane shares his thoughts.

I’m glad NCEA is up for review. When my first daughter was born, I was certainly hoping that it would be gone by the time she reached Year 11. She’s in Year 7 now and while my concern with the qualification is not quite at the “Bring back School Certificate” level of discontent anymore, a few of the “no good, very bad” things about it still exist today.

Being in my mid-forties, I had it easy. I could skip through my schooling as a Year 11 (Form 5 in those days) and really enjoy the learning for the first nine months. We students could delve deeply into the ‘why’ during our lessons and skip quickly past the easy stuff. There was a little cramming around October/November and then some short sharp exams that I passed okay. The key concern I have now with NCEA is that the assessment is continuous, ongoing and high-stakes for three solid years. The enjoyment I had learning in Year 11 with no fear of upcoming grades is missing for so many of our young people. I don’t know if they realise how lucky I was. They’re certainly too busy to consider how unlucky they are.

My second concern is that NZQA seems to have employed teachers to make their qualification ‘great’. Actually, more correctly, they’ve stolen our employment from our schools. The workload increases as NZQA tries to ensure that the untrustworthy professionals (strange how trust and status of the profession seem linked, dropping together) aren’t cheating their great system; #checkmarking #moderation #resubmissions. Is it my imagination that there’s always, almost annually, some new requirement from NZQA, some new form to complete, some new stage our marking has to go through?

The requirement for numeracy (and possibly even literacy) bothers me a little. I cannot really see value in it for students. Sadly, The Numeracy Project hadn’t died by the time my daughter got to school, and I cannot help feeling that numeracy has smothered some of the joys in ‘real’ mathematics - the study of patterns in nature, in shape, in data. Maybe it’s the artist in me that now misses the art in my favourite subject. The delight I had in exploring mathematics in school would have been much lessened if I was merely trying to demonstrate I was ‘numerate enough’ to survive in society. How many of the readers would answer $90 when asked, “What value, with 10% added results in $100?” Those of the readers who passed through Year 11 knew the actual answer back then. I wonder how many know it now? What is the value of the numeracy credits they earned? Numeracy credits, along with NCEA Level 1 in its entirety, is something I believe is surplus to requirements for our students.

Otherwise, it is a qualification to be proud of. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it.

The NCEA review – how can you engage?

The public consultation phase of the review has been extended until October 19 this year. PPTA will make two formal submissions. If you would like to have input please contact your local executive member or NZSPC representative.

There are several ways you can personally engage, including completing surveys, attending public meetings or making a submission as an individual, a department, a school or a CoL. Details can be found on the Education Conversation website - conversation.education.govt.nz

If you have any questions or would like to pass on input to the formal PPTA submission contact us at kfarrant@ppta.org.nz or ncea@ppta.org.nz

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 September 2018 16:58