Pupils getting NCEA but not university entrance
Young people’s futures are at risk as more students fail to make the grade for university, despite passing NCEA.
Data released by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) showed university entrance (UE) rates were significantly lower than NCEA level 3 pass rates last year – 49.2 per cent compared to 64.5 per cent – despite minimal difference between the two qualifications.
NZQA said it could not identify causes of the 15.3 per cent achievement gap, which leapt from about 6 per cent in 2013 to 14 per cent in 2014 and 2015.
Umbrella organisation Universities New Zealand (UNZ) pointed to socioeconomic factors and pressure on schools to provide ‘‘safer passage’’ through NCEA level 3.
The Government’s targeted 85 per cent pass rate at level 2 had been useful but ‘‘it’s about time it got lifted to NCEA level 3 and university entrance’’, UNZ executive director Chris Whelan said.
Students typically sit NCEA level 3 in their last year of secondary school. To pass, they must achieve at least 60 level 3 credits, 20 at level 2 or above, and pass basic literacy and numeracy requirements at level 1. UE requires NCEA level 3 with at least 14 credits in three of 48 approved subjects, and 10 literacy credits at level 2 or above.
Whelan said students who achieved level 3 but not UE were likely hampered by at least one of three demotivating factors: living outside a major city, attending a ‘‘less academicallyoriented school’’, or being the first in their family to potentially access higher education.
International research indicated living within 14 kilometres of a university doubled a student’s likelihood of going into tertiary education, he said.
Post Primary Teachers’ Association president Jack Boyle said the Government’s focus on NCEA level 2 had unintentionally turned level 3, UE and alternative postsecondary options into ‘‘an afterthought’’.
‘‘There’s almost a lolly scramble of unit standards at level 2, which makes it hard to get pre-requisites at level 3. We hear stories about reassessments and resubmissions in school to get them [students] across that line.’’
The Ministry of Education did not respond to arequest for comment.
University and polytechnic staff are being pressured to pass students who would otherwise fail to meet Government targets, a Tertiary Education Union survey found.