Are high schoolers being over-assessed? Government to review NCEA

The assessment framework for high schoolers could be in for a major overhaul with the Government ordering a review of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says over-assessment and teacher workload will be "addressed" as part of the review.

There will be a particular focus on the relevance of NCEA level 1, which is typically undertaken during year 11, when students are about 15 years old. Consideration will be given to whether all young people would be required to attempt level 1.

"Students and teachers have told us over-assessment is a real issue and impacts their wellbeing and workload. This and the importance of teaching life skills in schools, such as resilience, creativity, communication and adaptability, will form part of the review," Mr Hipkins said.

Secondary education may not be doing enough to encourage skills like resilience, empathy and critical thinking, a Cabinet paper outlining the review says.

Under rules updated in 2013, qualifications are required to go under review every five years. The first review of NCEA is due by the end of 2018.

National's education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says there's been a lack of communication from the Education Minister on the issue.

"If I'd been Minister, my approach would have been to approach the Minister to see if we could agree together who will be on the Ministerial Advisory Group," she told Newshub.

She said she would have been more explicit about a focus on changes brought by technology.

"The debate about 21st Century skills that may include things like [resilience and critical thinking] is very important. Part of the discussion would be, 'How do you measure that?'" she said.

The Government has promised NZ First a 30-year strategic plan for education will be developed.

This week the Prime Minister said cross-party consensus is important for creating meaningful change in areas like climate change and poverty. The same could be said about education.

Ms Kaye said she's yet to receive any communication from the Government about developing the plan.

"If possible, we want to have some key pillars in our education system we agree on," she said.

NCEA was introduced in 2002 to 2004. Learners are assessed against a standard rather than against each other.

The review will not look into core features of NCEA. The use of a standard to measure students against and the use of achievement and unit standards will not be reviewed.

The review will be run by the Ministry of Education, and there will be an Advisory Group "of innovative thinkers" who will challenge "traditional thinking on senior secondary education and assessment".