Northcote College and the National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA)
N.C.E.A, is New Zealand’s national secondary qualification. Northcote College is a state school and we are required to offer NCEA at Levels 1 and 2 and 3 in years 11, 12 and 13.
Our aim is for each student to achieve as well as they possibly can and for them to have multiple positive choices when they leave school. NCEA Level 1 is a building block for future achievement. Increasingly it is Level 2 which is considered a bare minimum qualification for a school leaver. At Northcote College we expect most students to stay until the end of year 13, and to achieve Level 3 and University Entrance. A student leaving school with a strong Level 3 NCEA will have multiple positive choices. We do whatever we can to ensure our students are engaged in a meaningful course of study and stay at school as long as possible. Research shows that this is linked to positive outcomes later in life.
NCEA offers great flexibility for meeting the needs of our diverse range of students. It offers the chance of success to students of all abilities and combined with the scholarship examination, which is designed to be highly demanding and for the very top students at secondary level we are able to offer academic challenges, meaningful qualifications and positive pathways for all students.
NCEA is a credible national measure of secondary achievement.
We have been determined as a school to maximise the pathways available to our graduates; to maximise the opportunities our students have with the qualifications they gain here and to have high expectations because this gives each student the best learning opportunities for future success. Consequently we offer meaningful courses and assessments which reward real learning and encourage ongoing achievement.
Published NCEA statistics hide a number of important issues. School by school, Level 1 NCEA results are a very limited measure of the overall educational success of a school. The published statistics do not reflect the ability of the particular group of students or the value added. Achievement levels in schools vary from year to year based on the strength of the group of students but the statistics do not reflect this.
At Northcote College we have a policy of encouraging student achievement through high expectations and this includes a generous policy on entries to NCEA. It is possible for a school to focus on improving their pass rates/league table ranking at the expense of the potential achievement of individual students, particularly at the expense of their ability to succeed at higher levels of NCEA and in tertiary education, by discouraging them from taking courses which they will find challenging and by not entering students for NCEA standards if they are not certain of passing.
Reducing the number of entries or limiting entries in NCEA is a very effective way of improving how a school appears in the statistics/league tables but this policy actually undermines the long term achievement potential of students. We do the opposite. Northcote College students are offered courses which challenge them in the short term and allow them success in the long term.
The data verifies that the assessments delivered at Northcote College are meaningful.
A comprehensive guide to the mechanics of NCEA is available on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) website: http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/publications/docs/understand-ncea.pdf