The era of steady increases in NCEA pass rates may be coming to an end, but it's no surprise to some in the education sector.
NCEA pass rates have been rising steadily for many years, but Qualifications Authority figures show a slowdown in 2017, despite year 13 students from a Pasifika background jumping from 60 to 65 percent at level 3.
The overall number of year 13s achieving level three rose just one point to 66 percent, year 12s remained almost unchanged at 78.5 percent, and year 11s dropped one point to 75 percent.
James Morris from the Post Primary Teachers' Association's Secondary Principals' Council said schools had done a lot to help students achieve NCEA but the yearly improvements looked to be finished.
"Over the years we've been changing courses and finding a different mix of standards and credits to enable us to do that but there's only so much you can squeeze out of the system by doing that," he said.
"And so I think it's inevitable that there will be some levelling off of the results from those sorts of changes."
Mr Morris said schools would still try to improve results but a slowdown in pass rates would probably improve the reputation of NCEA to some.
"My impression is actually that will settle some of the nerves of some commentators at least in that there was a concern that these increases weren't real."
Auckland's Ōtāhuhu College principal Neil Watson said the pass rate slowdown was inevitable.
"If you're trying to improve from 20 percent, to 25 percent, that's easier than improving from 80 percent, to 85 percent. As performance levels get higher, it gets harder and harder to make that improvement."