Pupils get­ting NCEA but not univer­sity en­trance

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - ADELE RED­MOND

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.

PHOTO: MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIR­FAX NZ

Univer­sity and poly­tech­nic staff are be­ing pres­sured to pass stu­dents who would oth­er­wise fail to meet Govern­ment tar­gets, a Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Union sur­vey found.

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