NCEA website spoonfeeds students

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 03/08/2013

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Students exploiting an NCEA website designed for teachers are passing with flying colours - but they are not technically cheating.

Online resources to guide teachers in setting assessments - including tasks, answers and marking schedules - are available on a publicly accessible Ministry of Education webpage.

There is no doubt students are using it and getting better grades because of it, Onslow College principal Peter Leggat said.

"We haven't had a dramatic incident where we have been worried about some sort of mass cheating but no doubt kids are using it to their advantage."

Mr Leggat said he questioned whether the depth of information on the website led to "spoonfeeding" students.

Former student Antony D'Esposito, 23, said he and his classmates had regularly used the website to improve their marks while at a Hawke's Bay high school.

He said it was great prepping for exams and knowing what calculations and phrases were required to get a higher grade.

On several occasions the example on the website was used word-for-word in a test, he said.

"It was only certain subjects that you could rote-learn the answers, but I know of several times where we sat a test and we'd all seen it before.

"I'm not sure if teachers were aware we were doing it but it became common knowledge for students to use it."

Providing assessment examples for teachers is not new and they are reviewed regularly.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary Rowena Phair said the tools had been available since the introduction of NCEA in 2002.

"Schools set assessments and are responsible for ensuring all students are treated equally and have to have policies and procedures in place to ensure the authenticity of their students' work.

"Each resource makes clear that they should be modified to make the context relevant to their students."

But it's these resources, often unmodified, that Wellington College principal Roger Moses says are making it easier for students to beat the system.

"You can't say the kids are cheating either, because it's right there and it's proactive of them.

"The debate is whether it should be there for them in the first place.

"Most teachers would use the examples as they are, and they should be. That's what they're for."

Lindisfarne College acting rector Campbell Howlett said the workload of teachers meant sometimes they would take shortcuts when writing assessments.

Students using the website and sitting tests they had already seen proved there was a "loophole" in the system, he said.

Wellington High School acting principal Anya Satyanand said the challenge was for teachers to modify the resources to make sure there was no "unfair advantage".

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Taita College principal John Murdoch said limiting plagiarism in the age of the internet was difficult.

"A good assessment is one you can't cheat in.

"If there's a possibility the assessment has been rote-learned then that raises a lot of questions about the strength of it."

- The Dominion Post

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