Saturday, December 4

Delays in Reopening Schools Increase NCEA Fears

The uncertainty surrounding the reopening of Auckland schools has undermined the confidence of some high school students and raised fears about the NCEA exams.

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Students studying for the NCEA exams.
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Principals told RNZ that time was running out to prepare teens for year-end exams and it was even suggested that the exams should be canceled or canceled for some or all of the city’s students.

Auckland Year 13 student Michael Taylor said he had organized with distance learning, but the decision to keep Auckland students at home for at least another week brought down his already fading resolve.

“I lost my motivation a long time ago and I was just acting disciplined, trying to discipline myself to work every day and when I heard that school wouldn’t open next week, I honestly just got tired. I go back to school to develop the motivation that I lost. during the confinement, “he said.

Emily Freestone, a Year 13 student, said she was concerned that she now had one less week in class to prepare for exams.

“Next term I only have five weeks before I take my school leave to do the NCEA exams and now I am not going to go back to school for at least the first week, which means I have four weeks or maybe even less. in school, and in that time, I’m also trying to test so I can get a mock test score, “he said.

He said the uncertainty surrounding Auckland’s alert level was undermining their motivation to study for exams because they would not pass below level three.

“I don’t want to study and then find out that there are no exams,” he said.

Māngere College principal Tom Webb said the situation was having a major impact on the NCEA’s preparations.

“The longer this lasts, the greater the impact it will have. It has already been the longest lockdown and the timing of this lockdown feels so different from what we’ve had in the past.

“Being so close to the NCEA exams it’s really hard to come back from them, we just don’t have the time to be able to prepare students,” he said.

Webb said principals expected the government to make more changes to the NCEA because some Auckland students would need even more help passing the qualification than is currently offered.

He said there had been a variety of suggestions on what help was needed.

“There are different calls at this time ranging from not running external throughout this year and schools that accredit students, to continuing with learning recognition credits,” he said.

Webb said principals also knew that some students had been able to study relatively well at home and that their hard work should not go to waste.

Mount Albert Grammar Principal Patrick Drumm said Auckland schools had not had time to run the mock exams that provided a basis for calculating derived scores if students were unable to sit for the end-of-year exams.

“Much of the evidence collected is obtained through their practice exams, which obviously take place later in the year, usually in the lead-up to the NCEA. Most schools have not taken the practice exams. or drills. That is their source for their judgment, especially for those who drop out of Year 13, where are they from, “he said.

Meanwhile, primary school principal Nardi Leonard of Jean Batten School in Māngere said the ongoing lockdown makes it more difficult to keep up with families, but that it is just a challenge that schools must face. .

“I’ve had teachers come in and make deliveries to the houses, stand at the mailbox and just a little hello from the kids really gets everyone excited. We phone regularly,” he said.

Leonard said the difficulties children and teachers face must be considered in light of the severity of the pandemic.

“Learning to read, write and add is really important when talking about people’s lives,” he said.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said Auckland students were already entitled to the highest level of support from the NCEA of all New Zealand students.

They could receive one learning recognition credit for every four who achieved up to a maximum of 16 credits at NCEA level one and 12 at levels two and three.

“Students who cannot go to school do not have the same time in the classroom as their peers across the country, which is why we have made these changes. Any concerns are understandable and have been heard,” he said.

“How long the Covid-19 restrictions remain in effect is up to the public health councils at the time they report the decisions that are made. This includes any consideration of changes to the NCEA.”

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