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Jack Goodfellow —

Some whānau will understandably be worried about what this COVID-19 disruption might mean for their young persons' NCEA results. It's hard enough for young people adapting to this new way of working, without the additional stress of NCEA credits weighing on their minds.

I hope this post provides some reassurance about measures NZQA (the national agency that administers qualifications), the school, departments, and teachers are taking to ensure NCEA remains a fair and valid qualification; and how learners at NCEA level will be supported through this disruption.

Schools and teachers have been encouraged to be flexible in their approach to assessing student learning for NCEA. One of the advantages of NCEA as a qualification structure is that it is very flexible. This COVID-19 disruption has provided opportunity for schools and teachers to think more carefully about how they can use this flexibility for the benefit of their learners. This flexibility may be around deadlines and due dates, shifting assessment dates around to allow more time; assessing when a learner is ready. Or it could be flexibility in how a learner is assessed: looking at different ways of gathering evidence of student learning that are more suitable for a remote learning context.

How this flexibility looks will vary across subjects: some subjects can adjust their assessment practices more easily than others. It also takes teachers time and effort to adjust assessment practices, but rest assured teachers are working hard behind the scenes to ensure learners are well supported. Like everything at the moment, this is a learning curve and your kindness and patience is appreciated. Teachers will communicate directly with students about what assessment might look like in their subject as the weeks go by.

Here are some general tips for NCEA-level learners, to help make sure they remain in the best possible position to gain NCEA credits (your teachers will have more specific guidance for you).

  • Engage with what learning you can, when you can. This will look different for different people: but try to get into some kind of routine with your learning.

  • Be kind to yourself. You might not get as much work done as you used to, and that's okay!

  • Put the learning first, and try not to stress too much about the assessment side of things.

  • Keep up lines of communication with your teacher, via email or scheduled Google Meets. Ask for clarification if you don't understand.

  • SAVE all of your work! Even if it's just a few study notes, answers to questions set by your teacher, a paragraph, or a blog post about what you have learned: anything you write in your own words might be valuable as evidence of your learning later on!

I am really impressed with the level of effort and engagement shown so far by our senior students under these challenging circumstances, and I am immensely proud of our teachers in their efforts to adapt to these circumstances. It gives cause for great optimism that our learners will continue to be well served, and will continue to get the results they deserve.