John Morris on NCEA

John Morris, Headmaster, note he is Headmaster not some wishy-washy Principal, of my alma mater has an article in the Herald this morning decrying the current and proposed status of NCEA.

[quote]The key recommendation of this ministry paper states: "That consideration be given to all external achievement standards being also available as internal achievement standards so that schools have a choice of assessing internally or externally."

If this recommendation is implemented this will inevitably result in a qualification that will, by virtue of its assessment regime, be second rate and lack comparability because not all schools will be totally internally assessed. Given pass rates for internally assessed standards are much higher than those externally assessed, there will be no national standard possible.

Unfortunately, there has always been a view in the ministry (and NZQA) that they alone have a mortgage on wisdom in these matters, and outsiders have nothing of value to contribute. I have witnessed this so many times, especially during the 1990s when I was on the Principals’ Lead Group, again between 1999 and 2002 when I was a NZQA Board member, and in the same era as a member of the Leaders’ Forum.

It was even displayed in meetings with regard to the debacle over the Scholarship examination in 2004. The NZQA and ministry staffers were the only ones around the table not prepared to see that, perhaps, they just might have got it wrong. And that if they were going to commit to a competitive, elite exam for top scholars, then it was absolutely essential to rank students, and the only certain way to get sufficient discrimination between students to ensure accuracy and fairness in this ranking was to have marks.[/quote]

He is right on the money, the grand experiment in dumbing down our education system is beginning to reap the poor rewards it was always going to.