We’re in the process of strengthening NCEA by making a series of changes to improve well-being, equity, coherence, pathways and credibility – for students and teachers alike.
The changes, which were confirmed by Cabinet in February 2020, will be the most significant reform of NCEA since the qualification was introduced in 2002.
In light of feedback from key stakeholder groups – those who undertake NCEA (learners and their parents/whānau), those who deliver NCEA (school leaders and educators), those who administer the qualification (NZQA) and those who use the completed qualification (employers, tertiary providers, iwi, etc) – we will be working to ensure we implement the NCEA changes in a way which is responsive to the diverse and evolving needs of our education system and communities, and recognises the complex nature of NCEA.
We will also provide the best resourcing, tools and guidance, minimise disruption to learning programmes as much as possible, and continue to engage with New Zealanders as we implement the changes.
The NCEA Change Programme is a work programme led by the Ministry of Education to deliver the package of seven changes aimed at strengthening NCEA:
- Make NCEA more accessible – zero fees, fewer barriers for learners with disabilities and learning support needs.
- Equal status for mātauranga Māori in NCEA – develop new ways to recognise mātauranga Māori, build teacher capability, and improve resourcing and support for Māori learners and te ao Māori pathways.
- Strengthen literacy and numeracy requirements and assessments – ensure students with an NCEA have functional literacy and numeracy skills that will ready them to transition into tertiary education or the workplace.
- Fewer, larger standards – new achievement standards and resources will be developed to replace existing standards and ensure the qualification achieved credentials the most significant learning in a learning area or subject.
- Simplify NCEA's structure – credits can no longer be carried over to the next level and resubmissions will only be allowed where they take students from a ‘Not Achieved’ grade to an ‘Achieved’ grade. Sixty credits are required to pass each NCEA level.
- Clearer pathways to further education or work – develop a Vocational Entrance Award to clearly signal when a student is ready to transition into higher level vocational education and strengthen vocational pathways through NCEA.
- Keep NCEA Level 1 optional – ensure Level 1 provides students with the broad, foundational knowledge needed to support specialization at Levels 2 and 3.
The changes were informed by insights and feedback gathered during the public engagement on the NCEA Review in 2018, and were confirmed by the Government in February 2020.
Thousands of people across the country took part in the Review from May to October 2018 and provided feedback in different ways – including Quick Survey (6,758 people); workshops, fono and hui (8000+ people); NCEA and Big Opportunities Survey (920 people); 54 focus groups (493 people); 20 regional workshops (476 people); and submissions (155 individuals, 116 groups and 95 organisations). An overwhelming majority favoured changes to strengthen NCEA.
The Ministry of Education is working with schools, young people, families/whānau, communities and other key stakeholders to deliver the NCEA changes. The changes will be phased in over five years, with new achievement standards at Levels 1, 2 and 3 in place by January 2025.
Videos: NCEA Change Programme
We are working with kura/schools and communities as well as parents/whānau to strengthen NCEA so our ākonga/learners have a solid foundation to be successful in life and in a global economy. The changes also seek to place equal value on mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and te ao Māori (Māori world view), and make NCEA more robust, consistent, inclusive and accessible for ākonga of all abilities and backgrounds.
It's time we had a look at NCEA because it's a qualification that's been around since 2002 and it's a great qualification, it's really well respected nationally, but we can make it better.
It needs to be rigorous. It needs to be clearly understood. It needs to be robust, and the changes that have been put in place I think address all of those things.
Making NCEA more accessible is one of the key changes so that involves making sure that all students have access to it. And accessibility isn't just about financial accessibility, it's also about making sure that students who have different learning needs are still able to access the standards and there aren't things that are stopping them able to demonstrate what they know how to do.
Māori as stakeholders fed back that there wasn't a parity of esteem or equal value or status for mātauranga Māori and this needed to change. For that to happen it means that we need to ensure that there is equal status for mātauranga Māori, te ao Māori within NCEA and that we're looking at new ways to recognise mātauranga Māori, but also that there is adequate resourcing and support provided to develop teacher capability, but also to support our Māori learners and te ao Māori pathways.
So one of the changes that we had to make for NCEA was to strengthen numeracy and literacy standards and that was because students were leaving school without being literate or numerate. So there's going to be literacy and numeracy co-requisites for NCEA and what that means is these credits will sit outside the 60 credits that are required for each level. Students can gain these credits anytime from year 9 right up until they leave school.
Having fewer larger standards is one of the key changes and it's created quite a lot of discussion amongst many people. The feedback that was received from students, teachers, and families was that students were doing too much assessment, they have been doing too much assessment. Focusing on that, the learning hasn't been so important and it's really been getting in the way of students well-being and students achieving well.
We need to simplify NCEA's structure, by having 60 credits required to pass at each year level and not carrying credits over from one year level to the next, by focusing on quality and not quantity that's a positive change as well. Students don't need 200 credits at level one and a similar amount at level two, the quality of the credits is more important, and by limiting the number of credits that can be accumulated year on year then everybody is sitting the same number of credits and it means students can concentrate on trying to get as many credits endorsed as possible.
One of the big changes that we'll see is students having clearer pathways, whether it's to further education, work, or training. It means that students will know fully that they're on the right track. One of the challenges that we've heard is that for many students they have had courses that may or may not have led them to where they wanted to go, so it's been really important to develop clear pathways that students understand and so do their teachers.
Keeping level 1 NCEA as an option is something that's come out of this review and that level 1 qualification is going to be a broad balanced foundational qualification with the changes that are coming in, and it's up to schools individually whether or not they want to have their students sit level 1 NCEA in year 11.
These changes are going to come in over a period of time, so we'll be piloting the level 1 standards and then they'll be being implemented in 2023. And that process will follow through with the qualification being fully implemented in January 2025. We're taking time over this to make sure that we know that we're getting it right thoroughly testing things in schools before they go out to teachers.
Transcript (te reo)
Kua tae ki te wā kia tirohia e tātou te NCEA nā te mea kua noho hei tohu mai anō i te tau 2002, ā, he tohu tino pai e tino whakautetia ana e te motu, engari ka taea e tātou te whakapai ake.
Me tōtika. Me tino mārama. Me pakari, ā, ko ngā panonitanga kua whakaritea ka whakatau i ēnei mea katoa, ki ōku whakaaro.
Ko te whakarite kia āhei ake te whakaurunga ki te NCEA tētahi o ngā panonitanga matua nō reira kei roto i tērā mahi, ko te whakarite kia whai urunga ngā ākonga katoa, ā, ko te whakaurunga ehara noa i te āheinga ā-pūtea engari ko te whakarite kē kia taea tonu e ngā ākonga whai mateaa koranga rerekē te whai wāhi ki ngā paerewa, ā, kāore he mea e aukati ana i a rātou mai i te whakaatu i tā rātou e taea ana.
I whakahoki kōrero mai ngā kaiwhaipānga Māori kāore he tauritenga rangatira, he tauritenga uara, he tauritenga mana rānei mō te mātauranga Māori, ā, me panoni i tēnei. E tutuki ai tēnei me whakarite rawa tātou i te mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori, te ao Māori hoki i roto i te NCEA, ā, e titiro ana tātou ki ētahi huarahi hou mō te whakamana i te mātauranga Māori engari kia whakaratoa hoki ngā rauemi me ngā tautokotanga rawaka hei whakawhanake i te āheinga o ngā kaiako, engari ki te tautoko hoki i ā tātou ākonga Māori me ngā huarahi ao Māori.
Nā, ko tētahi o ngā panonitanga i oti i a mātou mō te NCEA ko te whakapakari ake i ngā paerewa pāngarau me te reo matatini, ā, ko te take i pērā ai i te mea e wehe ana ngā tamariki i te kura me te iti o te mōhio ki te reo matatini me te pāngarau. Nō reira ka whakaritea ngā akoranga i te reo matatini me te pāngarau mō te NCEA, ā, ko te tikanga o tērā ka noho ēnei whiwhinga i waho o ngā whiwhinga 60 e hiahiatia ana i ia kaupae. Ka taea e ngā ākonga te whiwhi i ēnei whiwhinga i ngā wā katoa mai i te tau 9 tae rawa ki te wehenga i te kura.
Ko te whakarite kia iti ake ngā paerewa nunui tētahi o ngā panonitanga matua, ā, kua pupū ake ngā kōrero maha i waenganui i te iwi. Ko ngā whakahoki kōrero i whiwhi mātou mai i ngā ākonga, ngā kaiako me ngā whānau he nui rawa ngā aromatawai e mahia ana e ngā ākonga, he nui rawa ngā mahi aromatawai. Nā te aro nui atu ki ērā, kua mātāmuritia te mahi ako, ā, e whakapōrearea ana i te oranga o ngā ākonga me te eke panukutanga o ngā ākonga.
Me whakangāwari tātou i te hanganga o te NCEA, mā te whakarite kia 60 whiwhinga noa te hiahiatanga i ia kaupae tau, ā, e kore e kawea ngā whiwhinga mai i tētahi tau ki tētahi, mā te aronui atu ki te kounga, kaua ki te rahinga he panonitanga pai hoki tērā. Kāore he take o te 200 whiwhinga ki ngā ākonga i te kaupae tuatahi, me taua nui hoki i te kaupae tuarua, he hiranga ake te kounga o ngā whiwhinga, ā, mā te whakatepe i te nui o ngā whiwhinga ka taea te kohi mai i tētahi tau ki tētahi, ā, mā te nui ōrite o ngā whiwhinga e kawea ana e te katoa, ā, ko te tikanga o tēnei ka taea e ngā ākonga te arotahi atu ki te whakamanatanga o ngā whiwhinga nui rawa ka taea.
Ko tētahi o ngā panonitanga nui ka kite tātou ko te wāteatanga o ngā huarahi mārama ake mā ngā ākonga,ahakoa i te mātauranga, te mahi, te whakangungu rānei. Ko te tikanga o tēnei ka mōhio mārika te ākonga mēnā ia kei runga i te huarahi tika. Ko tētahi o ngā wero kua rongo nei mātou, mō te huhua o ngā ākonga i whai akoranga rātou tērā pea ka ārahi,kāore rānei i ārahi,i a rātou ki te wāhi e hiahiatia ia e rātou,nā reira, he take tino nui tonu te whakawhanake i ngā huarahi mārama, e mārama ai ki ngā ākonga,tae atu ki ngā kaiako.
Ko te pupuri tonu i te kaupae 1 o te NCEA hei kōwhiringa tētahi o ngā āhuatanga i puta mai i tēnei arotake, ā, ka noho te tohu kaupae 1hei tohu tūāpapa tauritenga whānui i runga anō i ngā panonitanga e kuhu haere mai ana, ā, kei ia kura te tikanga mēnā ka hiahia rātou kia mahia e ō rātou ākonga te kaupae 1 NCEA i te tau 11.
Ka uru mai ētahi panonitanga hei te pahemotanga o te wā, nō reira ka takitaki mātou i ngā paerewa kaupae 1, ā, kātahi ka tīmata te whakatinanahia hei te 2023. Ā, ka whāia haeretia te tukanga nei kia whakatinanahia katoahia te tohu nei hei te Kohitātea 2025. E āta mahi ana mātou i runga i tēnei, kia mātua mōhio ai kei te tika ā mātou mahi mā te āta whakamātautau i ngā āhuatanga i roto i ngā kura i mua o te tukunga ki ngā kaiako.
Transcript (te reo)
E whakahaeretia ana ngā panonitanga NCEA i te mea he pūnaha tēnei kua 20 tau te roa e whakamahia ana, ā, kāore hoki e noho tapu ana, engari e kitea ana a NCEA hei wāhanga nui o tō tātou āheinga ki te whakatutuki, whakatinana rānei i te moemoeā nui mō te mātauranga.
Kua whakaritea ki te NCEA kia māmā ake te uru a te ākonga. Ko ōna whakaritenga ko te kore utu kia whai kaha anō te iwi hauā, anō kia aro ki ngā ahurea, ki te reo, ki ngā tuakiri o ngā iwi puta noa i Aotearoa.
Nō reira i te wā e whakaaro ana tātou mō te Mātauranga Māori, ina hoki whakamuri, kāore i tino whai wāhi ki te whakanui i tana whai wāhitanga ki tō tātou tirohanga ki te ao, ā, ko te tikanga o tēnei he hiki i tōna tūnga me te mārama ki tōna tirohanga waiwai o te Mātauranga Māori e tuku nei i a tātou kia whai wāhi atu ki te ao.
Ko te whakapakari i te reo matatini me te pāngarau tētahi o ngā panonitanga ka tino hiahiatia. Inarā mō te hunga mahi i te wehenga atu o ngā ākonga i ngā taiao kura ki ngā huarahi mahi me ngā whare mātauranga matua. Ko te kōrero whakahoki e kī ana kāore tonu i pai rawa te reo matatini o ā tātou tamariki, kāore rānei i mōhio ki te rāwekeweke tau i tētahi āhuatanga matatau. Nā ko te panonitanga tuatoru, te whakapakari i te reo matatini me te pāngarau, tūturu koia he whakaritenga noho tahi mō te NCEA. E kī ana mātou tērā tētahi āheinga ki te mahi i tēnei mahi kia rite mai koe. Ko te panonitanga tuawhā e pā ana kia ruarua iho, engari kia nui ake ngā paerewa. I tēnei wā ānō nei e haere ana ki te whare kai, ā, he tino nui ngā kōwhiringa, engari e noho ana au i runga i te kūare ki ngā mea e hiakai ai au. Ko te tikanga o ngā paerewa ruarua iho, nui ake hoki, ka taea e ngā ākonga ngā whiringa poto ake. E kōrero ana tātou mō te wana o te angitu. I ōku whakaaro, ka āheitia tēnei i ngā paerewa ruarua iho, nui ake.
Ko te panonitanga tuarima ko te mea nui kia whakamāmā ai i te anga o te NCEA. Ko te hua nui katoa mā ngā ākonga ko te whakarato i te māramatanga mō te anga o te NCEA, me te tango i te pōhēhētanga. Ināianei kua mārama ake, ā, kāore hoki he kawenga whiwhinga, ā, me te āheinga kia taea e ngā ākonga te tāpae anō i ngā mahi, e neke ai mai te ‘kāore i tutuki’ ki te ‘paetae’ anake. Nā, kia mārama ake ngā aratohu kia māmā ake ai mā ngā tamariki me ngā whānau ki te aro ki te āhuatanga whaitake, arā, ko te mātauranga.
Ko tētahi atu āhuatanga whaitake i ōku whakaaro ko ngā āhuatanga o te reremahi, otirā e whakarato ana i ngā huarahi mārakerake mā ngā ākonga i a rātou e koke ana i roto i te pūnaha. Kāore ā tātou ākonga katoa i whiwhi i te āheinga ki te whai whakaaro mō te whakamahere rautaki i te huarahi mārakerake, ā, me te whiwhi hopunga o tērā i tētahi ara e kitea ai e rātou, e te hunga ahumahi hoki.
Ko tērā panonitanga ka noho te kaupae tahi o te NCEA hei kōwhiringa noa iho mō ia kura, nō reira kei ia kura te tikanga mēnā ka whai i tērā huarahi i ō rātou akomanga.
He wā whakaihiihi tēnei mō te urunga ki te mātauranga.I ngā wā o mua i te NCEA he wā anō i kitea e koe ngā āraitanga whakauru. Engari i roto i ngā rauemi hou e puta mai ana, i tua atu i te whakamihi i ngā whakaaro, ngā mōhiotanga me ngā mahi iwi taketake, e whakaatu ana, e miramira ana tātou i ngā pūkenga mai i ngā whānau o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, e whakarite ana i tō rātou awenga, kitenga hoki i roto i ngā tāpaetanga o te arotake NCEA RAS. I te wā e kitea ana i te herenga mārakerake i konei... i ngā mahi o nāianei i te kura, engari i ērā huarahi o anamata hoki, te ara ahumahi, te ara mātauranga matua, me ngā āheinga mahi hoki e whai whakaarotia ana.
Ina whakaaro tātou, pātai rānei i te āhua o te pakeke haeretanga o te NCEA, o tōna kore e tino hāngai i ēnei wā pērā i mua, tatū noa ki te wāhanga me te āheinga o te whakakite, me te whakanui i te Mātauranga Māori. Nō reira i ōku whakaaro, i a tātou e kōrero ana mō tētahi tohu, huarahi rānei o te aromatawai i tā tātou e mōhio ana, e piki ana ngā pātai kia whai whakaaro tātou ki te āhua o tēra, e pā ana ki tō tātou reo, ahurea me te tuakiri, kaua ā-takitahi anake, engari ā-motu hoki.
NCEA changes are being made because it's a system that we've had for about 20 years now, and it doesn't actually exist in a silo, but NCEA is seen as a really significant part of our ability to be able to achieve or realise the larger vision in education.
These changes have been included to NCEA to allow easier access for students. It is a cost-free provision and enables people with disabilities and is cognisant of culture,language and the identities of all people throughout New Zealand.
So when we're thinking about mātauranga Māori, if we think historically, we've not had the opportunity to be able to celebrate its contribution to the way we see the world. And that is about elevating its status and understanding the critical insight that mātauranga Māori provides us to be able to engage in the world.
Strengthening literacy and numeracy was definitely a necessary change. From the workforce in particular, when ākonga left from school settings to go to vocational pathways and/or tertiary institutions, the feedback through Kōrero Mātauranga was telling us that our kids weren't literate enough, or that they weren't able to deal with the numbers in a proficient manner and way. So change three, strengthening literacy and numeracy, is definitely about having it as a co-requisite to NCEA. We're saying that there's an opportunity to do it when you're ready. Change number four has a lot to do with fewer and larger standards. At the moment it's like going into a restaurant and there's this great big smorgasbord, but I'm sitting there, not knowing what to eat. Fewer and larger standards means that ākonga have that chance, have the opportunity to be a lot more concise. We talked about the thrill of success. I think fewer, larger standards will enable that.
The most important aspect of the fifth change is the simplification of the NCEA framework. The biggest benefit for students is to provide a lot more clarity around the structure of NCEA and to remove a lot of the confusion. Now it is much clearer; there is no carry-over of credits. And in order for students to be allowed a resubmission, it's from the 'Not Achieved' to 'Achieved' only. So the much clearer guidelines make it easier for kids and whānau to focus on what's really important, which is the learning.
I think another important element of what we're doing within this workstream is to be able to provide clearer pathways for students as they progress through the system. Not all of our ākonga have actually had the opportunity to be able to think about strategically clear pathway planning, and then to equally have the record of that in a way that's discernible to themselves and also to the workforce.
That change means that Level 1 of NCEA is now optional for each school. So each school has the option to follow this approach in their classrooms.
It's an exciting time to be in education. Traditionally in NCEA you can sometimes see that there were barriers to access. However, in the new material that we're seeing, not only are we acknowledging indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing, we're showing and highlighting the skillsets from our Pacific whānau, ensuring that they have a presence and a visibility within what's being offered in the NCEA RAS review. When we're also seeing a clear tie between... here you're currently working at school, but actually those next future pathways - the vocational line, the tertiary line, and job opportunities - are also being considered.
If we wonder about or we ask ourselves about how NCEA was perhaps aging or no longer quite as fit-for-purpose as it once was, it's particularly in the area of being able to recognise and celebrate matāuranga Māori. And so I think that now when we're talking about a qualification or a way of actually assessing what we know, increasingly we're being asked to think about what does that look like in terms of our language, our culture and identity, not only individually, but also nationally.
Delivering the Change
We have been working in partnership with teachers, students, school leaders, parents and whānau, and other representatives from the sector to implement the changes to NCEA. The changes will be phased in over five years, with new Achievement Standards at Levels 1, 2, and 3 in place by January 2025.
We also want to ensure everything we develop to support the NCEA changes will meet the five principles of a strong NCEA qualification – coherence, credibility, equity and inclusion, pathways and well-being.
As part of Change 2 of the NCEA Change Package, Mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori, we are working to ensure there is equal status, support and resourcing for mātauranga Māori in NCEA, opening up greater opportunities for ākonga to access mātauranga Māori and the pathways that lead from it.
In practical terms, this means:
- appropriately incorporating mātauranga Māori, te ao Māori and te reo Māori into the new New Zealand Curriculum-derived Achieved Standards and associated resource materials for use across English- and Māori-medium settings.
- developing new Achievement Standards and associated teaching and learning resources to credential learning from Te Marautanga o Aoteraoa (TMoA).
- developing new mātauranga Māori subjects to better acknowledge and support pathways that are relevant for and valued by Māori (for example, Māori Performing Arts).
- ensuring that teachers are better resourced and supported to teach mātauranga Māori.
Curriculum Planning and Design
We understand the time and consultation required to review and design your local curriculum. To support you on your journey with NCEA, we have developed a range of guidance to support your local curriculum design alongside the changes.
This includes our Leading Local Curriculum Guide Series which will help you steer your view of your local curriculum. This series supports you to lead discussions with your staff or within curriculum or year groups on:
- Designing rich opportunities and coherent pathways.
- Using the right tools to notice and respond to progress.
- Engaging conversations with parents and whānau about their learning and progress.
- How you can equip your students for tomorrow's world.
Key Advisory Groups
The Professional Advisory Group, composed of current and former principals and teachers, was established to provide advice to the Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education on the NCEA Review.
We want to ensure everything we develop to support the NCEA changes will work in practice and meet the five principles of a strong NCEA qualification – coherence, credibility, equity and inclusion, pathways and well-being. To do this, we are working in partnership with a diverse range of people to implement the NCEA Change Programme.
We have established four NCEA panels to ensure a diversity of New Zealanders — Māori, Pacific communities, people with disabilities, and industry and vocational employers — have a voice in the design and implementation of the NCEA changes.