Thousands of school students are being awarded the wrong NCEA
grades, a review of last year's results has revealed.
Nearly one in four grades given by teachers for internally
marked work were deemed incorrect after checking by New
Zealand Qualifications Authority moderators.
Students found to have a flagged grade will not have it
changed -- but authorities have told the Herald they are
comfortable with the system.
"We can assure students and parents they can have confidence
in the comprehensive moderation process," said Richard
Thornton, NZQA's deputy chief executive.
"There is always the potential for there to be some
disagreement. A good example of this could be in the
assessment of an art portfolio where interpretation can
influence the final judgment."
Internal assessments are set and marked by teachers, with
grades checked by other teachers and samples in turn checked
Last year, 2000 internally assessed standards across 356
schools were picked for moderation.
A moderator reviews a student's work and considers if the
teacher has correctly judged whether the work has achieved or
not achieved the standard.
Last year, the agreement at the level of grade was 76 per
cent -- meaning moderators disagreed with almost one in four
In 2012 the rate was 80 per cent, and in 2011 86 per cent --
although a change in how work for moderation is collected
means comparisons with previous years are limited.
Mr Thornton said internal assessment was based on an overall
teacher judgment and included a large number of factors which
were all taken into account by moderators.
NZQA expected the agreement rate to improve, he said.
Over the past three years a large number of new standards had
replaced older ones, which meant teachers had to get used to
Allan Vester, chairman of the Secondary Principals' Council
and head of Edgewater College in Pakuranga, said it was also
important to realise disagreement would be on work at the
margins of grades.
However, Avondale College principal Brent Lewis -- who has
been a critic of NCEA despite about 80 per cent of his roll
opting for it over Cambridge -- said the rate was troubling.
"It is clearly disappointing and obviously there is more work
to be done."
The overall integrity of NCEA is overseen by an independent
advisory group, the Technical Overview Group Assessment. Its
chairman, Emeritus Professor Gary Hawke, has recently said
the public can have confidence in NCEA and its moderation
Post Primary Teachers Association president Angela Roberts
said that independent overview should provide reassurance.
Many overseas jurisdictions had no moderation between schools
at all about levels of attainment.
- Nicholas Jones of The New Zealand Herald