Teachers give cautious tick to proposed NCEA overhaul

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Proposals for an overhaul of the NCEA qualification have met a mixed response from teachers cautious about the workload the changes might create.

A ministerial advisory group charged with reviewing NCEA has published a discussion paper that suggested abolishing exams for level one of the NCEA, introducing major projects at all three levels of the qualification, and cancelling the $76.70 fee for sitting exams.

It also proposed halving the number of credits students must pass to achieve level 1, awarding students 20 credits for internships or work placements related to their studies, and raising minimum literacy and numeracy standards.

The discussion document said the projects could include working on a school production, or research related to the subjects students were studying.

Maths teacher Jake Wills said the suggestions for the first level of the NCEA looked particularly promising.

"The big focus there on the literacy and numeracy is going to hopefully lead to some really good outcomes for the kids, because often we're really good at getting them their literacy and numeracy credits but often that is at the detriment of them actually having literacy and numeracy skills."

English teacher Natalie Faitala said NCEA was not working well and needed improvements.

"I like the focus on less assessment. I think we definitely over-assess our students and they are doing far too much assessment and not enough learning," she said.

However, she was not sure that getting rid of level one exams was a good idea.

"It's always good to have practice at something to prepare yourself for the next year and that's kind of what level one is at the moment, a foundation."

Post Primary Teachers' Association president Jack Boyle said teachers would be looking at how the proposals might reduce workloads for them and their students.

"The proposal to reduce the number of credits at NCEA level one is something that there's pretty solid acknowledgement is a good idea to talk about," he said.

The association wanted more detail about the idea of projects worth 20 credits for each level of the NCEA, he said.

"There's been a little bit of concern about the assumption that you can have everybody developing project-based learning."

Burnside High School principal Phil Holstein would be leading consultation on the proposals in Canterbury.

The six 'Big Ideas' in the proposal should be viewed as a single package, rather than taken in isolation, he said.

"The NCEA qualification and framework is a good one, but the unintended outcomes since it was introduced are something we need to address now."

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