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Nothing mystical about NCEA grades

Is your son, daughter, or grandchild studying under the NCEA system?

If yes, discussions around levels, credits, and results will arise.

So, what do these terms mean and what do you need to know?

NCEA (National Certificate in Educational Achievement) comprises three levels and pupils usually achieve NCEA Level 1 in year 11, Level 2 in year 12, and Level 3 in year 13.

To pass each level, pupils must gain a certain number of credits.

The Credits

Credits are awarded for each standard that the child achieves in the course or programmes they are studying. Standards are the skills or knowledge that a pupil is expected to know in order to pass.

For example, in Level 1, Mathematics, the standard Apply measure in solving problems, is worth three credits and is assessed internally during the year and graded by the teacher.

Apply Geometrical reasoning in solving problems is another standard which is worth four credits and is assessed externally at the end of the year in an examination

Standards can be assessed in English or Te Reo Maori, and are graded as ‘not achieved,’ ‘achieved,’ ‘achieved with merit,’ or ‘achieved with excellence.’

Achieving with merit or excellence will improve pupils’ career prospects or chances of gaining entry into their chosen tertiary course.

Minimum levels

Pupils who wish to advance their education beyond high school will usually need a minimum of NCEA Level Two for apprenticeships, and a pass (amongst other things) in NCEA Level Three for university entrance.

You can help your child in a number of ways.

These include (a) providing support, time, and space for them to study (b) encouraging them to choose a range of subjects at Level 1, so that they can keep their options open and prepare them for future work or study requirements (c) talking with them about assessment deadlines and writing them on a family calendar to guide their time management

To stay informed or learn more, you can talk to the school or teachers about your child’s progress, or visit the NZQA website www.nzqa.govt.nz

Colleen Douglas is Deputy Director pf Centre for Educational Development at Massey University

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