PPTA in at the ground floor of major NCEA review
In at the ground floor
A major review of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is now underway and PPTA is in at the ground floor.
The association has four representatives on the stakeholder reference group for the review, with advisory officer Judie Alison also acting as liaison between this group and the ministerial advisory group (MAG), whose membership was announced by the minister of education last month. Judie is joined on the stakeholder group by PPTA junior vice president Melanie Webber, Te Huarahi member Hana Wijohn and advisory officer Kirsty Farrant.
A series of meetings of both the MAG and the stakeholder reference group were held from February 13 to 15 to kick start the review process.
Overassessment and excessive administration
Melanie told PPTA News that, while it was clear people on the stakeholder reference group wanted quite significant changes to the system, it was not so clear what those changes might be. In the meantime, there was a need for an immediate focus on overassessment and excessive administration requirements, she said.
“Large scale changes will take a long time, but these are things that need to be dealt with immediately.”
Low number of practising teachers on reference group
Melanie was particularly concerned about the low number of practising teachers on what was a large (40 plus) reference group. There was also no-one on the group representing the Pasifika community, an omission many of those on the group were shocked at and hoped would be rectified.
Shifting from assessment treadmill
The MAG held a full day meeting on February 13 and Judie joined them in the afternoon in her liaison role to get a feel for what they were thinking.They appeared to be very keen to reduce assessment and enable teachers to focus on teaching and learning, she said.
“It became clear they were wanting to shift from the Teach + Assess + Teach + Assess treadmill that currently forms the senior secondary curriculum in so many schools,” she said.
A massive change process
They were also well aware that the level of change they were considering would require a massive change process, including extensive professional learning and development (PLD). The MAG asked the liaison people to encourage the reference group to identify for them any unintended consequences of their proposals that they might not have considered.
A mood for transformation
The sector reference group met for the day on February 14. As well as the four PPTA representatives, the New Zealand Secondary Principals Council (NZSPC) had one representative, Heretaunga College principal Bruce Hart.
At the start of the day, participants were asked to arrange themselves on a continuum reflecting the level of change they thought was required in the NCEA, from ‘minor improvement’ to ‘transformation’ and the bulk of the people clustered at the transformation end, Melanie said. “However, exactly what that transformation would look like and how we would get there was not much clearer at the end of the day than at the beginning,” she said.
Consultation at the same time as PUMs
One of the ‘unintended consequences’ that the practising teachers in the group raised was that the consultation process for the review will be taking place during term two, the same time that PPTA will be holding Paid Union Meetings (PUMs) with members. Suggestions of anything that signalled a further increase in NCEA workload would likely be received very poorly during this time, Melanie said.
Significant short-term reductions needed
The day following the stakeholder reference group, the liaison people returned to meet with the MAG to report. Judie told the MAG they would need to look for ways to offer significant short term reductions in the assessment and moderation areas if they were looking to make medium or long-term changes. “It was clear to me that the MAG was listening very intently to this and realised its significance,” she said.
What happens next?
There will be a further meeting of the reference group on 19 March to consider a draft consultation document, which is to take into account the thinking of both the MAG and the stakeholder reference group. This will be published by the end of April. The public consultation will include national and regional workshops, focus groups with young people, parents and whanau and an online submissions and survey process. It will run between the end of April and August. The final phase of the review (August to November) will include further meetings with the MAG, reference group and youth advisory group to consider the implications of the consultation for recommendations to Cabinet, to be submitted in November.