Monday, March 19, 2018

NZ school qualifications - review

There has been discussion for several years in NZ, on how to reform the NZ school qualification structure. There is already a high level review of NZ education system, signaled by the new Ministery of Education, with movement in the vocational education sector as summarised in my last blog.

One avenue explored is from this report by the NZ Initiative, titled "Spoiled by Choice".  The NZ initiative is a non-partisan 'think-tank' which is on the 'right' of the political spectrum. It seeks to promote competitive, open and dynamic economies and a free fair and cohesive society through uncovering policies and ideas.The report, provides a good overview and history of the National Certificate in Education (NCEA), which was introduced between 2002 and 2004. Both my children just missed the changeover and finished their secondary school just before NCEA began, so I was spared the angst of having to understand the 'new' system. The report details the promises and how some of these became challenges. One aspect being the process of 'credit harvesting' and the shift of teachers and students to 'teaching / learning for the assessment'. The report also proposes that NCEA has not lessened the socio-economic divide and that a 'one size fits all' system has been difficult.

Stuart Middleton, who has been a supporter of NCEA provides a summary In particular, he has always advocated the 'flexibility' inherent within NCEA to meet the needs of student who are 'non-academic' and seek a different pathway through school towards work or tertiary study which is vocational.

The main recommendations in the NZ Initiative report are:
Raise English and te reo and maths requirements
Expect a broader core of subjects
Reduce number of standards
Make it harder to teach to the test
Reduce reliance on internal assessment
Use comparative judgment software 
Commission independent analysis.

Another report which is connected is one commissioned by the Children's Commission in NZ. This report - titled "Education matters to me: key insights" provides for the student voice. A summary is provided through Stuff. In the report, there is a call to listen to students and to be cognisant of their needs. In particular, their individuality, what they bring with them to school, an end to racism and to 'teach me the way i learn best'. 

As any change in the school system impacts on tertiary education, it is important to keep up with what is happening. 

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