Pupils and parents baffled by seemingly unfair NCEA grades may welcome a more refined marking system to be brought in this year – though it could seem like a return to pre-NCEA days
The Grade Score Marking system, piloted on 12 external exams last year, will be introduced into all level 1 external exams this year.
The system creates nine "upper and lower" categories within the existing categories of not achieved, achieved, merit and credit within standards.
Secondary Principals' Association president Patrick Walsh said the previous marking bands had been quite broad.
"Students have often felt a bit aggrieved that where they have got a merit extremely well, they still got a merit."
Although the new system would give greater recognition for how exactly pupils achieved, some would ask whether the system was going "full circle" back to getting a percentage grade.
"Because it's a standards-based system if you reach the standard, you reach the standard. But if you're going to break down the achievement levels in more and more detail ... you're coming close to saying `Let's just get a percentage'."
Secondary Principals' Council chairwoman Julia Davidson said the new system was a refinement which gave a clearer understanding of what each category was.
"Often teachers are really loath to give an excellence because they think it's got to be perfect to give an excellence, but it actually doesn't, there are levels of excellence."
Pupils would also be motivated to achieve higher standards and be able to see how close to the boundary they were.
New Zealand Qualifications Authority deputy chief executive Bali Haque said the system created greater discrimination at difficult grade boundaries but was not a return to the pre-standards model.
"This is not about returning to percentages because the numbers are only used to establish the grade and the grade is set against the standard and the standard is set in stone."
The system was developed by an advisory group to give markers more confidence but also made a much more transparent system for pupils.
"There's always questionable decisions because that is the nature of the grade boundary ... but there is no assumption here that anything was broken."
Pupils would get the same standard mark on their initial results, but would be able to see their raw score and lower or upper mark on their papers. They could then measure their own raw score against cut points on the internet.
No system was perfect, but this would create more consistent marking, Mr Haque said.
He "very much doubted" employers or universities would use the more specific grades as they were for individual standards, not the overall mark.
The system will be implemented at level 2 next year and level 3 in 2013.
HOW IT WORKS
The new Grade Score Marking system creates nine sub-categories within the existing not achieved, achieved, merit and excellence for each question and standard:
N0 – Not achieved
N1 – Not achieved
N2 – Not achieved
A3 – Achieved
A4 – Achieved
M5 – Merit
M6 – Merit
E7 – Excellence
E8 – Excellence
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