Cavalier attitude to NCEA stuff up results in coverup

Jo Moir reports

Hundreds of NCEA students who asked to see their exam booklets have been sent other people’s by mistake.

The revelation that 455 students were sent other people’s booklets this year was news to principals, who were not notified about the blunder, although Education Minister Hekia Parata was.

Only 260 students, ranging across all NCEA levels, contacted the Qualifications Authority to say they had the wrong booklets. Of those, 169 were then sent the correct booklets; the other 91 cases remain unresolved.

A subcontractor’s computer glitch has been blamed for the error, which NZQA discovered in January.

Subcontractor’s computer glitch. ?Really.

This is the new way to shift blame: ?the unnamed sub contractor did it. ? The same “reason” was used to limit the damage of the Peter Dunne / Andrea Vance email investigation. ?When they realised they stuffed it up, it was all the fault of some nameless, faceless subcontractor.

Tawa College principal Murray Lucas said he was made aware of the error by a student, and was “disappointed” NZQA had not contacted him directly.

“It’s a difficult situation for students to deal with, and I’m disappointed to have to hear these things from the students.”

Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins said NZQA should have been upfront about the botch-up.

“When a breach like this occurs, people should be told about it, and to sweep it under the rug is unacceptable.”

He said it was disgraceful that Parata knew about the issues and did not make a public statement or insist schools be notified.

However much it pains me to agree with Hipkins, he’s damn right and he’s not even going over the top.

When problems like these are discovered, you notify all the stakeholders. ? Mistakes happen. ?We can get past those. ?But what we have here is a clear attempt to contain the damage by trying to cover it all up.

And now, neither the NZQA nor Parata are taking any responsibility because it was just a little data corruption on some unknown third party’s PC.


NZQA had addressed Parliament’s education and science select committee since it became aware of the error, but did not reveal it. “It’s pretty outrageous they haven’t given full disclosure about this,” Hipkins said.

Parata said she was told about the problems in January, and updated again in February by NZQA.

“While it is a regrettable mistake, I have been assured by NZQA that further quality checks have been put in place to ensure this type of error does not take place in future.”

NZQA deputy chief executive of assessment Richard Thornton said the error was not a privacy breach because the exam booklets did not contain any information that could identify a person.

He said the next step would be to contact schools directly.

Parata will regret trying to keep this quiet in an attempt to let the NZQA hide the problem from the public. ?It is much better to admit to a problem than to have to defend the cover up.

Parata is an awful education minister. ? How do I know? ?Well, this is election year, and the NZEI and PPTA are as quiet as a mouse… it appears they would like to keep her in the job for another 3 years rather than face the uncertainty of having to cope with the likes of Ryall or Joyce.


– Stuff