Saturday, November 27

Principals must decide if tests are needed at alert level 3

The new rules leave it to principals to decide whether their students must take tests in alert level 3 regions.

Teenager studying at desk and doing homework

Photo: 123RF

The Ministry of Education directive sets strict conditions and is being enforced by Auckland schools offering the Cambridge International Examinations and the International Baccalaureate.

The ministry has been granting waivers for schools that want to bring small groups of students back to class during alert level 3 and as of mid-September had approved 16 out of 17 requests from schools that wanted to do so for exams.

He said the directive issued this week clarified the rules for conducting exams during alert level 3.

The board said principals can request an exemption to offer exams only if, in their opinion, it is necessary to bring students to the site to take exams in person.

He said that students must be in bubbles of 10 and their bubble cannot change for the entire exam period. During exams, students must sit at desks 1.5 meters apart, and different bubbles can share the same space, but must remain two meters apart at all times, even outside the school grounds.

Auckland Year 13 student Stella Lynch welcomed the new rules, although she said they would not allow some of her practical exams to take place.

“Definitely calmer than I was a couple of weeks ago. Nice to know that a certain sense of normalcy can be reflected in terms of our series of exams. However, I am a bit concerned about some of the components that have had to be addressed. lose, they represent a fairly large percentage in terms of weighting for our final rating, “he said.

Stella said the rules on bubbles and distancing seemed difficult.

“I’m skeptical about that. I’ve been trying to do the numbers with my little sister and we were giving each other different scenarios like ‘well if this happens, how will it work’? ‘Together, but then we split up to do an accounting exam and a physics test. I don’t really understand how those bubbles are going to work, “he said.

Macleans College principal Steve Hargreaves said his school had a bubble of seven students taking a Cambridge exam earlier in the week thanks to a special waiver from the ministry and that experience showed the school would struggle to meet. with the distancing requirements of the new directive.

“Even keeping seven students apart even though we had crosswalks on the path six feet apart and two supervisors with seven students, it was really difficult to make it work. And we know that as soon as they turn the corner from the school, the excitement of the exams, having not seen friends for eight weeks, we know that they are going to be grouped into groups. “

Hargreaves said the board also had a key clause that would prevent the school from offering exams at alert level 3, a requirement the principal believed was necessary to take exams in person and on the spot.

He said that he could not attest that the tests were necessary because there was an alternative.

“There is a widely used alternative to the Cambridge exams, called school-assessed scores. They have been used around the world in the last 18 months with tens of thousands of students, so I can’t say it’s necessary. It would be. preferable for some people, they might think it benefits them, but is it necessary? Well, it’s not because we have an alternative. “

Auckland primary school principal Tim O’Connor said the exams would go ahead at his school.

“The Cambridge exams cannot be taken online. The response from our community has been overwhelming support that these exams are taking place because everyone gets a fair chance rather than receiving assessed grades from previous jobs.”

O’Connor said the rules for taking the exams were very strict.

“That is a logistical nightmare. One of our worst days we will have 104 classrooms in use, it is in one session in the morning and one in the afternoon, so 50 in the morning 50 in the afternoon sorts of things. 1000 students and you’re talking about 104 vigilantes. “

But the mother, Carole Smith, said it was an unnecessary risk.

“We know the Delta variant is incredibly contagious and I’m not sure that especially kids, we’re talking 16-17 year olds, will stick to their own bubbles. They will see their peers and go up to them and everything else, so I think, frankly, it’s a recipe for disaster, “he said.

Itineraries and Progress Associate Leader of the Ministry of Education Pauline Cleaver said that under alert level 3 there was flexibility for Auckland high school students to sit for exams on the spot if the school’s governing body could provide evidence and give faith in your request that they would meet public health requirements.

He said the latest address further clarifies the process and required public health conditions.

“We are not considering the NCEA exams at this time because they are not scheduled to start until November. Work is underway, led by the NZQA in partnership with the Ministry, on the implications of different public health requirements for the execution of the NCEA national exams, “Cleaver said.

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