New Zealand’s main national qualifications for Secondary School students are the three National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs). Students may also qualify for endorsement of these certificates with Excellence or Merit.
Students are assessed for the NCEAs by a combination of external and internal assessments. The external assessments are mainly examinations, or for some subjects such as Visual Arts or Technology, portfolios of work are submitted for assessment. Internal standards are assessed within the school and the material used and judgements made by staff are externally moderated to ensure national standards are being met.
The NCEA qualifications are based on ‘standards’ that provide criteria for assessing performance. This standards-based assessment means that if students meet the set criteria, they attain the standard and gain credits that contribute towards the qualification. Full details of the requirements for each NCEA qualification and the endorsements are available on the NZQA website.
All standards are registered on the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF) and describe the levels of performance students require to meet the standard. Having met the criteria, they will gain credits toward national qualifications. In general, standards do not prescribe content or curriculum or exactly how assessments are carried out. There are two types of standards - achievement standards and unit standards. Credits from all standards count towards the NCEAs. However, achievement standards recognise 4 levels of attainment, that range from ‘Not Achieved’, ‘Achieved’, and ‘Merit’ through to ‘Excellence’, whereas most unit standards only recognise ‘Not Achieved’ or ‘Achieved’.
New Zealand Scholarship is a further national qualification that recognises the top performers in each subject and monetary awards are linked to the attainment of these awards. Further details on NZ Scholarship, including the monetary awards are available by clicking here.