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September 15, 2008 | by  | in News |
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PPTA proposes ‘Downsize Me: NCEA Special,’Auckland Uni unconcerned

A proposal by the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) to cut the requirements for Year 11 high school students has been met with a mixed reception, but a University of Auckland official was unconcerned about the effect that any reduction might have on the quality of university entrants.

The suggestion, outlined in a discussion document from the PPTA executive, recommended lowering the requirement to pass NCEA Level 1 from 80 credits to 60. According to the PPTA, the current levels of assessment under NCEA are “unusual internationally,” with the level of required work too demanding for students at such an early stage.

The document also noted that reducing the required credits would eliminate inconsistencies between the NCEA levels. At Levels 2 and 3, students can carry 20 credits forward from their previous year, lowering the credits necessary at the new level to 60.

Business New Zealand’s education adviser Nicholas Green was sceptical of the proposal’s merits, saying that any decrease in assessments may impact the amount students were learning.

“You need a minimum amount of stuff you have to learn, particularly at Level 1, because that’s where those core skills of literacy and numeracy are so important.”

Green also noted the importance of Level 1 as a common exit point for “vulnerable” students, meaning that a high quality of education at that level was desirable.

However, University of Auckland school partnership office director Ken Rapson was unworried by the proposal’s influence on the quality of university students.

Rapson said that the university used the university entrance document to assess applicants, and that “any changes to the award of level certificates won’t change the position for universities.”

Minister of Education Chris Carter said that there was no obvious need to change the NCEA Level 1 standards, but he would discuss the proposal at the PPTA’s annual conference.

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