NCEA Level 1 changes announced

The Government is making changes to NCEA Level 1 to ensure it remains a strong, credible qualification that supports young people into employment and further education, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced last week.

“Last term, the Government initiated a wide-scale review of the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), involving consultation with thousands of New Zealanders, both in the education sector and more widely,” he said.   

“Having listened carefully to those voices, the Ministry of Education is now in a position to begin implementing changes to the subjects that will be offered for assessment at NCEA Level 1 from 2023.

“It’s become clear that over the years, greater specialisation has crept into Level 1, which has led to students narrowing their options too soon.”

“These subject changes are carefully designed to give students a broader foundation at the start of NCEA and more pathways for their learning, as well as reducing workload for teachers and students. They will support learners to gain the key skills, knowledge and competencies needed for a strong foundation before more specialised learning starts from Level 2.”

Hipkins said the finalisation of subjects, announced on December 3, marked the beginning of one of a series of modifications that will be made gradually over the next four years and comes after the Government made NCEA free to sit for all New Zealanders.

“The Ministry looked at whether a subject provides broad, foundational learning, prepares learners for more advanced study on related subjects, and supports the Crown’s commitments under the Treaty of Waitangi.”

The number of subjects offered for assessment will be reduced by 10 to 32.

Key changes at Level 1 include:

Broadening access to a strong science curriculum by consolidating Physics with Earth & Space Science, and Chemistry with Biology, along with a new general nature of science subject. This will provide for more coherent learning and reduce the number of standards from 41 to 16. Agricultural and Horticultural science remains unchanged but will have new standards developed.

Latin will be removed at all NCEA levels due to low and steadily declining enrolments. Less than 200 students from around 10 schools study Latin per year, with only 25 students continuing through to Level 3.

Māori Performing Arts is a new subject at Level 1.

Specialised subjects such as Art History, Classical Studies, Media Studies and Psychology will no longer be offered at Level 1. However, these subjects can be offered from Level 2.

“All Level 1 subjects are expected to be developed by the end of 2021 so they can be piloted in schools in 2022 and offered to all students from 2023.”

Hipkins said the Ministry continues to develop the subjects derived from Te Marautanga ō Aotearoa (TMoA), the Māori medium curriculum. These subjects include Pāngarau, Hauora, Pūtaiao, Te Reo Rangatira, Tikanga-ā-iwi, Hangarau and Ngā Toi.

No changes were proposed to those subjects during public engagement on the provisional subject list and final confirmation of TMoA subjects is expected in early 2021.

As part of the wider NCEA Change Programme, mandatory literacy and numeracy standards will be introduced from 2023 to help ensure everyone who has an NCEA qualification has a good level of foundational literacy and numeracy. The standards will be externally assessed, and students will need to achieve them in order to be awarded any level of NCEA qualification.

The draft literacy and numeracy standards will be piloted in Terms 3 and 4 of the 2021 school year. A wider pilot of the standards will take place in 2022 to ensure the sector is ready for the change before implementation in 2023.

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Judi Leman
Judi Leman
3 years ago

Why is there no mention as an important key change the Accounting, Economics and Business studies are bering reduced to one subject called commerce? We have steadily increasing numbers with more than 45,000 students sitting these subjects at Level 1 in 2019. Very disappointing.

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