Auckland principals hope that the government will make further changes to help their students earn the NCEA qualification.
They say that students will miss at least 33 days of school due to the city closure and that will have a huge impact.
They are currently eligible for one additional credit for every five they achieve and lower benchmarks of merit, excellence, and college entrance because they have been locked up for more than 20 school days. There are slightly fewer extra credits available for students who have had 16 school days locked up.
Year 13 student Luis Seetai from Otahuhu College told RNZ that this week’s confirmation of two more weeks of lockdown under alert level 3 for Auckland had increased the pressure on teens taking the NCEA.
“For most students, especially Year 13 students, what we need is time. We are aware that exams have been delayed for another two weeks, but it all comes down to time. The longer we stay locked up, the less time we have. “
He said that would make the fourth term especially busy.
“It’s quite depressing, it’s very sad to know that it’s our last term in high school and that it’s going to get cloudy with so much work that we won’t be able to enjoy our last days there,” he said.
Seetai said he didn’t need any more qualifying changes, but others did.
“Some students are actually struggling. They would need additional credits,” he said.
Otahuhu College principal Neil Watson said the school had been trying to catch up after previous Auckland lockdowns this year and the loss of more classroom time due to the current lockdown was taking its toll.
“Despite the early locks, we had caught up to where we normally were before the start of this crash. Now we’ve regressed again, so we’re probably at least a month behind where we normally are and you just can’t get it back on. the school month is gone, “he said.
Watson said the Qualifications Authority should provide more learning recognition credits for Auckland students and also make changes to the exams.
“With the last seven weeks of the third trimester busy with lockdown and the impact it has had on students, serious thought needs to be given to how externals can be run to make it fair to all students throughout Auckland,” he said.
Auckland Secondary Principals Association President Steve Hargreaves said Auckland students “absolutely” needed more help with the NCEA.
“Auckland students are going to need more than what has already been posted as compensation for those students outside of Auckland, but what that is remains to be seen. Last year, Auckland students received additional compensation compared to those in Auckland. students out of Auckland, but this year if this lockdown continues and potentially now, even in period four, a whole new plan might be necessary, “he said.
He said Auckland students could get more learning recognition credits for Auckland students, or something else.
“It is very difficult to say what could be because we are trying to anticipate how long we are going to be out of school. We may not be back in time for exams in the fourth quarter and then ‘we are seeing something new that has not been put on. on the table, how to credit students with their external aspects “.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said he was actively seeking more support for students in Auckland and would have more to say soon.
Stressed Cambridge Exam Students
As the government was considering further changes to the NCEA, a student enrolled in the Cambridge International Exams said many of her peers felt stressed and ignored.
Year 13 student Stella Lynch told RNZ that, unlike the NCEA, the Cambridge exams had not been postponed and that students were not receiving additional marks to offset the effect of the lockdown on their studies.
The government had no control over the rating, which was run by a company in the UK. Lynch said the students wanted assurances from the universities that the effect of the pandemic would be considered when they applied for limited-entry courses.
She said that the exams would start on Friday October 1 while Auckland was still locked in, so some students would miss some of their exams.
“People are more than stressed and if you go to work evaluated by the teacher, there is no evidence [for] a large number of students throughout the year deserve the A’s and the A-stars they deserve, “he said.
“That’s what worries a lot of people, that while we’ve been assured several times that we’ll get the grades we deserve, and that’s great, but if there’s no evidence to back it up, we’re not sure that’s going to be the case. It happens and people are worried about getting into courses like engineering or advanced science if they are not sure they can sit for exams under normal conditions. “
Lynch said the students were calling on the government to pressure universities to change the entry requirements for students taking the Cambridge International Exams and the International Baccalaureate.
“We would like you to make it easier for IB and CIE students to enter university by lowering the threshold for entry and taking into account the situation, especially of students in Auckland, when they are looking for academic scholarship applications, especially when comparing them to students. from the NCEA who have received help with their credits, “he said.
Lynch said she did not regret the changes that had been made for NCEA students.
“But sitting on the sidelines and seeing how they get help and then you don’t talk about anything publicly about the IB or Cambridge, you really feel like the government has ignored you and that it’s been quite a hard pill for a lot of us to swallow,” he said. .
Cambridge International (Southeast Asia and Pacific) Regional Director Dr Ben Schmidt said that if exams couldn’t occur due to the pandemic, students would get a grade based on teachers’ evaluation of their work early on. of year.
“For Cambridge International students in New Zealand, we are still planning for the exams to continue, as long as it is allowed and safe to do so,” he said.
“We have created extensive additional measures to support them and their schools, including adjustments to aspects of assessments and exemptions for components that are difficult to execute during the pandemic.
“We have also expanded our special considerations process to allow students to receive a grade when for good reason they miss some exams, for example, in the event of short school closings during the exam period.
“We are closely monitoring the situation in New Zealand. We are consulting with school leaders and will update them immediately if it becomes clear that testing cannot continue, and we must shift to an approach based on teacher evaluation.”
Schmidt said the organization would also work with colleges to make sure they could make informed decisions about admission.
Universities New Zealand CEO Chris Whelan said he was speaking with Cambridge Assessment International Education about lowering the entry requirement for students with Cambridge qualifications.
He said that last year the requirements were lowered by 10 points due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.