26 Aug 2021

NCEA exams pushed back, 'Covid credits' on the cards

From Nine To Noon, 9:10 am on 26 August 2021

Principals say the decision to delay NCEA and Scholarship exams by two weeks will give students much-needed breathing space. 

The Education Ministry Learning Recognition Credits might be reintroduced, once it is clearer how long the lockdown would last.

Bored teenager reading book at desk at home, holding his head, free space

The Education Ministry Learning Recognition Credits might be reintroduced, once it was clearer how long the lockdown would last. Photo: 123RF

The Education Ministry told schools overnight the exams would start on Monday 22 November and finish on Friday 14 December, two weeks later than the original schedule in recognition of the disruption caused by the alert level 4 lockdown.

"Over the last week, community cases of Covid-19's Delta variant have caused disruption to thousands of secondary school students around New Zealand and is adding to students' anxiety. It has therefore been agreed to change dates and processes around some assessments - including end of year exams and portfolio submissions," the ministry's bulletin to schools said.

It also indicated further changes might be made such as reintroducing Learning Recognition Credits, once it was clearer how long the lockdown would last.

Secondary Principals' Association president Vaughan Couillault said the announcement was especially helpful for students who were working on portfolios for art and technology subjects.

"The additional two weeks will provide much needed breathing space for preparation for external exams but quite importantly for those students that have not been able to get their hands on their portfolios ... it does create some breathing space for those students," he said.

Couillault said the decision to put back the exams had been made more quickly than last year's decisions to delay exams.

"Last year the right decision was made but it took us a little while to get there. This year we've dusted off that playbook by the looks of things and we've got the information out to people fairly promptly."

Couillault said he did not expect exams could be delayed any further than two weeks because they would run too close to the Christmas holidays and that would make marking difficult.

He said schools were much better at switching to remote learning than they were last year but it was hard to get some students to do the work.

"What we are finding is whilst our connectivity issues have been addressed somewhat we still are having some engagement issues getting particularly senior students to engage with that online space, so whilst they may now have the means it's about addressing the motivation," he said.

Couillault said government agencies were discussing the possibility of further NCEA changes, such as providing extra credits.

He believed it was very likely changes such as the extra credits would go ahead.