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ALWYN POOLE: The Issues with the 2024 NCEA Co-credits for Reading, Writing and Maths

Last week Amy Wiggins highlighted in the New Zealand Herald further test results for the NCEA co-credits to be introduced in 2024. These are three assessments that every student must pass before they can be awarded Level 1, 2 or 3 NCEA or University Entrance.

The article showed results so low that if they truly forecast what will be achieved New Zealand will suddenly have swathes of young people leaving school with no qualifications at all. That figure currently stands at 13%. Over the next three years it could rise to 40 - 50 percent.

In typical mode the Ministry of Education has suggested to NZQA to make the tests easier through fewer questions, simpler wording and allowing spell-checks. This would completely defeat the point of the assessments in the first place.

We are being told to keep in mind that students can sit these tests at anytime between Year 11 – 13. However, many of the students who are likely to fail these tests leave well before Year 13.

Also note that our most marginalized – e.g. Maori male school leavers in South Auckland – are already leaving school with 33% failing Level 1 NCEA.

What to do? Running and hiding is not any option. Blaming the tests will serve no one – least of all the students who would then see a huge reduction in their future prospects. Every high-school, with or without effective Ministry support (if there is such a thing) needs to set up comprehensive programmes in this area to see the VAST majority of their students through. No excuses.

Of secondary, but significant concern, the tests should not be in an online format which is a poor means of testing reading and mathematics - and doubtful on writing. It disadvantages a wide range of students, and schools should insist on paper testing.

Over the longer term there are two key societal changes required to lift all levels of student achievement. The first is a huge focus on effective parenting - especially during the first five years of life. This includes keeping parents engaged in their children's learning and fully informed of progress and processes. When I asked the exceptional former Principal of fast-rising St Paul’s in Ponsonby, Kieran Fouhey, what has brought about the change, his first point was to “enroll the family”. If you can convince parents that the success of their child depends 100% on them (regardless of socio-economics), convince teachers that their students' success depends 100% on them and convince young people that their success depends 100% on their commitment and effort – then you have a winning formula.

National’s Teaching the Basics Brilliantly is a policy step in the right direction. What has been somewhat amusing is the naysayers, e.g. Education Minister Jan Tinetti, effectively asserting that an hour a day of reading, writing and maths would be boring. It shows a real lack of imagination and creativity around how those subjects can be taught and learned. In saying that though, National needs to fully understand that the policy will only succeed, beyond the margins, if they can carry the vast majority of families with it.

Families are the hub of our society, learning and behaviour and need to be recognised as such.

Alwyn Poole

2,043 views66 comments

66 comentários

My spelling is shocking, my grammar is worse, and my numbers will don't even ask me, but at least I can read and write and kind of add up, it is when you come across someone who is unable to do any of these things, as in," excuse me can you please tell me the time, I did not go to school, I am unable to read or write or tell the time", not a maori boy, but a white boy. What holds for our future, will all the smart people be imported, this is a question a maori mate of mine asked a will known maori politician about maori been dumbed down and their failure at school, the politicians…


Steve Hall
Steve Hall
11 de abr. de 2023

“Science can flourish only in an atmosphere of free speech”

Albert Einstein


Peter Young
Peter Young
10 de abr. de 2023

I agree Alwyn, a stable and supportive family environment is essential to, inter alia, a good education and that plays a significant part in why Maori, as opposed to Pakeha and particularly, Asian, children don't do so well. Perhaps that should be the target of Government policy, rather than the proposed curriculum reset?

That said, on the curriculum refresh front, I urge everyone to have a read of what is proposed:

or, if you'd rather sit back and listen:

I don't know how you feel about it once you've reviewed it, but I pity our young school attendees if they have to navigate their way through this 'woven tapestry' of utter claptrap and I'll wager right here and…


The left likes to tout the Scandinavian countries as socialist successes. Well, let's give them a sample: Sweden operates an educational voucher system whereby every kid receives a voucher and can trade it for education at the school of his (or his parents) choice.

Ah choice! Anathema to the left.

Implicit in the voucher system is that schools who receive fewer vouchers get less funding and either have to buck their ideas up or have to lay off teachers.


Steve Hall
Steve Hall
07 de abr. de 2023

Yeah - blame the hard tests for poor results, and make them easier, so more people pass. The end result will be worse.

Either 40% of school leavers have no qualifications and are of limited value to themselves and society, or 100% of school leavers gain qualifications, but 2/5ths of them are still of limited value to themselves and society. Sounds the same, but the trouble now is that the under-achievers can't be distinguished from the higher achievers. Brilliant - MoE !

Parental involvement is essential, a tough work ethic is essential, a curriculum based on the sciences, maths and English is essential. The problems of the future need focus, innovation, and hard work.

Judging by Jan Tinetti's assertions, and…

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