READER REPORT:

'NZQA has taught students nothing except to devalue their own sense of self worth'

TANIA CARMICHAEL
Last updated 15:34 22/11/2016
NCEA
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

"If NZQA plans to grade our Level 1 students after the quakes, can we also mark NZQA?"

Would you give NCEA top marks or put it bottom of the class?

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Would you give NCEA top marks or put it bottom of the class?

'NZQA has taught students nothing except to devalue their own sense of self worth' NCEA should be recognised for 'transparency and credibility' A student's perspective of NCEA 'NCEA is a failed experiment', teacher says

Is it just me (as a parent) or have this year's NCEA Level 1 exams been a disaster of Road Runner proportions?

From the impossibly hard MCAT ((maths common assessment task) exam that made national headlines in September, to the 7.8 earthquake recently affecting the NCEA Level 1 science exam (other year groups' exams were also affected), 2016's Level 1 students have been given an absolutely raw deal by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

I worry about the effect this has on the confidence of our students.

Much has been written over the past week about the poor communication, confusion, and inconsistency of school closures following the 7.8 earthquake on November 14.

READ MORE:
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My teenager was one of those affected, and I know the stress it caused both parents and students to be told firstly that the school was closed and exams were off, and then that school was still closed, but exams were on.

A mad dash ensued to ensure my teenager made it to the exam, as they were very distressed about the possibility of having their grades taken from their mock exams. I commend my teenager for making the call to sit the exam, but a lot of students were not even given the option.

Us parents know we can lecture teenagers till the cows come home about the importance of mock exams, in case they "get hit by a bus", but the reality is that 15-year-olds are not known for listening to their parents.

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I think it is fair to say that many Level 1 students did not study as hard for their mocks as they did for their actual exams.

Many use their mocks as a testing ground to figure out what they need to focus on for their exams, and as a parent who did the same herself, who am I to throw stones?

My teenager really buckled down in those final few weeks to really give the NCEA Level 1 science exam a good go, and I wanted him to be rewarded for that by getting a good grade.

It seems to me that NZQA has learnt a lot this year, already apologising for the mess of the MCATs and now the disaster of miscommunication last week, but our teenagers are not guinea pigs.

They are human beings that are going through incredible levels of stress, even without the additional stressors. NZQA needs to accept that it has done 2016's NCEA Level 1 students, in particular, no service.

NZQA has taught students nothing except to devalue their own sense of self worth, with the fear of failure and perceived lowered expectations from others due to the added pressures. The stress has been ongoing for some, with aftershocks and not being able to sit exams they actually want to sit.

READ MORE:
* NCEA remains the exception
* NCEA offers 'softer' options
* NCEA pass rates improve

Those who sat the MCAT exam this year were highly likely to also sit the NCEA Level 1 science exam as these two subjects have symmetries. These students know that if they fail this year's science exam, they will be unable to do Level 2 science.

Schools do not teach stress management or how to cope with adversity, but then expect students in earthquake-affected areas to be fine to sit their exams literally hours after a shake. This plays with their futures and it is not on.

It's all well and good that NZQA will look at what they did wrong over past few weeks and plan better for the future, but in the meantime, what about our 15- and 16-year-olds?

Why doesn't NZQA allow all students who sat exams in affected areas to have their grades adjusted to reflect the situational difficulties? And for all those who did not sit their exams their full year's work should be considered, not only their mock exams.

Do not give them a double whammy by having to accept their MCAT exam grades - that no one could confidently sit, including teachers - and last week's mess.

Hasn't NZQA put our Level 1 students through enough this year? If NZQA plans to grade our Level 1 students after the quakes, can we also mark NZQA?


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