Cheating 'rampant' thanks to NCEA, former teacher says

NCEA standards are so poorly defined they should not be called standards.

NCEA standards are so poorly defined they should not be called standards.

"Never before have so many done so well for so long, yet learnt so little."

This is the product of our present examination system, used in all state, and some private, secondary schools. It's in turmoil, yet the powers that be do not have the intellect to recognise this.

It is the only system in the world where you can be a "straight-A student", yet be below average.

Your news and views

Share your stories, photos and videos.

Cheating - or at best, bending the rules - is rampant. This was inevitable; both teachers and schools have significant pressure put upon them to pass students.

* Check out Stuff's School Report interactive
* Constant NCEA testing making secondary school students anxious
* 'NZQA taught students nothing'
* Teachers, students outraged over difficult algebra exam

There are many students who are passing standards they would not have passed under the previous system. The tragedy is they have passed and learnt less.

While this may not be true for all subjects, it is certainly true for some of the more academic subjects. One of these that I have significant knowledge of is mathematics.

It is now possible for a student to pass an external standard, such as last year's Level One algebra, with a mark of 18 per cent. And, yes, they still scale grades! But it is now hidden, which is why last year's Level One algebra results seemed a little better than 2015, when it was actually a more difficult paper.

Students have told me that even though they gained a grade of 'M', they know they got most of the paper wrong.

The standards are so poorly defined they should not be called standards. If you took 10 independent teachers to write an assessment for a particular standard, you would get considerable variations in the degree of difficulty in the paper and hence the pass rates.

Ad Feedback

Even if the papers were similar, the assessment conditions such as how long students had, how close the practice assessment was to the real one, whether they were allowed a resubmission and whether they got help during the assessment would lead to different pass rates.

Initially the pass rates for internal and external standards were supposed to be similar. Now teachers are expected to get at least 85 per cent of students through the internals. We are doing this not by teaching our students more or better, but by making the tests easier and teaching them less.

For example, the Year 13 statistics course now has about 60 per cent less content and a lower difficulty level than it did 30 years ago. We no longer teach the central limit theorem which is fundamental to elementary statistics and to the understanding of averages.

It is now possible for a student to pass numeracy without doing a mathematics course in Level One. With this, they could go on to be a primary teacher, for which the minimum level used to be UE mathematics. No wonder the secondary intake is slowly getting worse at mathematics. There are a significant number of students - 10 to 20 per cent - who are obtaining "numeracy" without sufficient numeracy skills to cope with the outside world.

The method of marking in mathematics is fundamentally stupid, and I am ashamed to have been part of it in my teaching career. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to have consistency with the grade boundaries. It is also very common for two students to have the same grade yet have significantly differing ability.

Many students are satisfied with a grade of 'A' and choose courses with mostly internal standards as they know that these are much easier to pass. They also choose subjects that are easier, as now all subjects have the same weighting, even though this does not reflect the real world. Remember, an 'A' grade can mean a percentage from 20 to 60 per cent, such is the inaccuracy of our marking system.

If an examination system is good then eventually it works its way around the world, as do most clever ideas. This has not happened with our system; indeed, Britain, which had a similar system, is going back to external assessment for the very reasons I have outlined above.

Our system needs a thorough overhaul by people who have the capacity and knowledge to do it. This is critical and it needs to be done now. I, for one, would love to be part of this process.

* Roy Perrin is a former mathematics teacher at Pukekohe High School.

* Comments on this article have been closed.

 - Stuff Nation


Ad Feedback
special offers

Cycleway must be included: court

Moir Hill will be the centre of a proposed development removing pine forest and replanting with natives

The prospect of being able to cycle through regenerating bush on a trail from Warkworth to Puhoi has come a step closer.

National wins Auckland

Nikki Kaye was ready for a "tough fight" for Auckland central electorate and she got one from Labour rookie Helen White.

A nasty scare in Central Auckland could have cost National the country's biggest city, but they still landed on top.

Maungakiekie sticks with National

Likely National MP Denise Lee says she feels incredibly humbled that people in the community have given her their vote ...

Auckland bellwether remains National's with Green and Labour splitting the Left's vote.

First fuel down the line

The fuel pipeline from the Marsden Point Refinery to south Auckland, which crippled New Zealand air travel after ...

Freshly-repaired pipe delivers its first batch of jet fuel in 10 days to Auckland Airport.


Hutt South turns blue

Chris Bishop with his partner Jenna Raeburn at the Hutt South electorate party in ...

National's Chris Bishop takes out Labour stronghold by wooing the people of Wainuiomata.

Capital painted red video

Wellington City deputy mayor Paul Eagle comfortably won the Rongotai seat with 16,983 votes.

Wellington's electoral candidates painted the capital red on Saturday night.

Scott survives despite vote swing

National's Alastair Scott has retained his Wairarapa seat and will enter his second term in Parliament.

National's Alastair Scott holds Wairarapa despite majority being cut by 4025 votes.

Opportunity lost for Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan called on the Green Party to join National in the new government, rather than represent the environment ...

TOP leader lashes out at selfish instinct of voters as evidence-based populism fails this election.


All Blacks' guard's $225k tax bill

Security consultant Jayson Ryan has admitted charges of aiding and abetting his three companies to apply tax deductions ...

Jayson Ryan's sold his home to pay back the debt. He also has to service a sentence of home detention.

Live: The aftermath

Jacinda Ardern fronts for questions on what's next for Labour.

There's been no clear result. NZ First's Winston Peters faces a choice: support National or join a Labour-Green bloc.

Webb's in, Wagner's out video

Labour's victorious Christchurch Central candidate Duncan Webb shares a moment with Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson at the ...

Canterbury remains relatively static from the 2014 election – except for one important seat.

Gone without a trace

Missing Dunedin man Stephen Lowe.

Police divers are searching a waterfall and river for missing man Stephen Lowe, last seen leaving work more than a week ago.


Mahuta romps home

Nanaia Mahuta took at swipe at the Maori Party after she crushed her opponent in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

Māori Party no competition for Labour's Nanaia Mahuta in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

Hamilton backs blue video

Hamilton East National MP David Bennett receives congratulations from Hamilton East Labour candidate Jamie Strange after ...

It's a clean sweep for National in Hamilton, with David Bennett and Tim Macindoe fending off two Labour rookies.

A timely drop in Waikato's 'ocean'

Eliza Webster, who commutes twice weekly to Auckland for university, is counting on a commuter rail between Auckland, ...

National's spending promises are timely for the growing Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

First-time MP romps in

Tim van de Molen says he is more than up to the challenges ahead of him.

National Waikato candidate Tim van de Molen won the Waikato seat with ease.


Taranaki continue to move forward and up

Kane Thompson made his first start for Taranaki against Hawke's Bay.

Coach delighted to end four decades of misery.

The mystery 400,000

22092017 Feature Photo: JASON DORDAY/STUFF Election night 2017, New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters Speaks to ...

There's 15 per cent of the votes still to be counted. .

Young keeps NP seat

Jonathan Young, with wife Maura, at the election party held at The Plymouth Hotel.

National's Jonathan Young has retaken seat with 49.7% of the vote.

The possible coalitions video

James Shaw reached out to Winston Peters in his speech and could yet have a big part to play.

Labour don't necessarily need the Greens as partners and National could choose to govern alone. We dissect all the possibilities.


Winners are grinners video

Ian McKelvie is the National candidate for the Rangītikei electorate.

National candidate Ian McKelvie has won Rangitīkei comfortably.

Fourth time around

Iain Lees-Galloway has easily won the Palmerston North seat for the fourth time.

Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway has emphatic election win in Palmerston North.

Ōtaki, Whanganui staying blue

National MP Nathan Guy has kept his Ōtaki seat, easily.

Nathan Guy and Harate Hipango set to retain electorates for National.

Tamati tackled short of line

Te Tai Hauauru Maori Party candidate Howie Tamati with supporter Jack Niwa

Touted as a possible kingmaker before the election, Howie Tamati trails in his electorate.


Smiths wins Nelson, O'Connor takes West Coast-Tasman


Rachel Boyack, Labour Part candidate concedes to Nick Smith, Nelson MP ...

Nelson and West Coast Tasman MPs retained their seats.

Funding input sought

A  project that would require further input is funding for "enhancements to Marahau".

Motueka's residents have one more week to tell their community board on how to spend their money.

New group to fight "P" launched

The support group has been arranged by Community Connect, an organisation of volunteers set up to fight what it calls ...

Support group for people affected by "P" will hold meeting in Nelson on Monday.

'I can't afford to live in NZ'

Nelson woman Christine Irvine had to sell her car to pay for health treatments. She's moving to Australia with National ...

Moving to Australia is the only way one Nelson woman sees a better future after National's win.


Freight hub to keep trucking

The container transfer site was upgraded to a 24/7 freight hub in a matter of days after the earthquake.

After the earthquake, they started working 24/7 loading and unloading more than 100 trucks a day.

Smith cleans up

National's Stuart Smith has been re-elected in Kaikōura.

Stuart Smith wins easily in Kaikōura

Grants help unlock walkways

NZ Walking Access Commission chief executive Eric Pyle walks Daltons Track between Daltons Bridge and Pelorus Bridge. ...

Kiwi's love of the outdoors is being supported by cash as more funding for walkway access is up for grabs.

Next 'cultural treasure'

Weaver and artist Peg Moorhouse says it is important to recognise the great talent in Marlborough.

"Extraordinary", "inspiring" and "significant" are just some of the criteria for the Living Cultural Treasure Award.

South Canterbury

Mojo Mathers: 'I made a difference'

Green MP Mojo Mathers, who has been an MP since 2011, admitted she was " disappointed" with the Green Party's result, ...

Jo Luxton "rapt" after party confirmed seat, but "devastated" Mojo Mathers not returning.

Falloon takes seat video

Green Party candidate Mojo Mathers watches the first results come in with members of her campaign team, from left, Ray ...

National's Andrew Falloon has won the Rangitata seat, but National's majority is down.

Leatigaga hat-trick sinks N Otago

South Canterbury captain Kieran Coll with the Hanan Shield after defeating North Otago in the Heartland Championship.

South Canterbury have the edge on neighbours North Otago to retain Hanan Shield.

Dean comfortably wins Waitaki

National Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean addresses her supporters at an election night function at the Oamaru Opera House after ...

Jacqui Dean wins a fifth term in Parliament


Two MPs for Clutha-Southland

Clutha-Southland New Zealand First candidate Mark Patterson watches his leader Winston Peters, give his coalition speech ...

Clutha-Southland has a new New Zealand First MP, Lawrence farmer Mark Patterson.

Revealing ancient and heavenly stories at Cardrona

Cardrona astronomy guide Alex Thom peers through Cardrona's new telescope.

Cardrona Alpine Resort is reaching for the skies with its new visitor attraction.

Flames beat back rescuers

The fire was in one unit in a block of four.

Neighbours reportedly tried to rescue the occupant of a Dunedin flat where a person died overnight.

Woman rescued, police thank app

A Christchurch woman was found on Ben Lomond, near Queenstown, about 12am on Friday.

A Christchurch woman was rescued from a Queenstown mountain after her husband tracked her location through a phone app.


Live: The day after the election

Jacinda Ardern fronts for questions on what's next for Labour.

Jacinda Ardern says it's not over yet on the election front and most Kiwis voted for change.

South's election night

It was all smiles for Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie, pictured here with her husband Mark Billcliff.

Invercargill will have two MPs in Parliament, Labour's Liz Craig and National's Sarah Dowie.

Craig will become Labour list MP

Invercargill Labour Candidate Dr Liz Craig is set to become a list MP after the 2017 general election.

Invercargill Labour candidate Dr Liz Craig lost the battle for the Invercargill electorate seat but will still become an MP.

Ria Bond to leave parliament

NZ First Invercargill candidate Ria Bond with her father Ariki Hoterene-Shortland at the Kelvin Hotel in Invercargill.

There were tears of disappointment for former MP Ria Bond.

Ad Feedback