Scholarship charge may push out candidates

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013

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Students sitting NCEA scholarship exams are to be stung with an extra bill because of no-shows.

Over the past three years, nearly a quarter of scholarship exam papers have been left untouched as students pulled out of sitting them, knowing there would be no penalties or charges.

NZQA deputy chief executive Richard Thornton said schools had been consulted about charging for scholarship exams, and they supported the change kicking in from 2015.

At present, students pay $76 to enter NCEA and can sit three scholarship exams without extra cost.

Thornton said students signed up for NCEA exams at the end of term two. Under the new proposal, they would have to commit to a $30 fee for each of their first three scholarship exam entries.

Many students signed up for scholarship early in the year, then realised how difficult the curriculum was and decided not to sit the end-of-year exams, he said.

"We still have to print the papers, contract a supervisor and a marker and then, when students don't turn up, it becomes very costly."

The continually high absentee rate for the exams had triggered a review and consultation.

Financial assistance would continue to be available, but Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons said some students would be pushed out because they couldn't afford the fees.

"Financial assistance will help, but there are plenty of parents who are proud and don't want to ask for help or come across as being disadvantaged," he said.

Ensuring students who were capable of doing the exams had the opportunity to sit them would be vital.

Post-Primary Teachers Association president Angela Roberts was also wary of the extra cost.

She accepted free exams were a problem, but said putting a price tag on them could swing it to the other extreme.

"It's about finding the right balance and, for some kids, they will worry about taking the risk of studying scholarship because of the fee.

"Schools would have to clearly identify kids that are going to do well."

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- The Dominion Post

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