Creating space at NCEA Level 1 for powerful learning

NCEA Level 1 should give all New Zealanders the opportunity to become lifelong learners, but the assessment workload can make it hard for every school and kura to do this. Big Opportunity 1 explores how to ensure NCEA Level 1 gives every learner a chance 

NCEA Level 1 is intended to help set students up for success – but it can be hard for every school and kura to do this when there’s a big assessment workload. NCEA Level 1 could be refocused on making sure every student has a chance to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to be successful beyond school.

Currently, students need 80 credits to achieve at Level 1. This opportunity explores a 40-credit qualification with two parts – literacy and numeracy, and a project.

Project-based learning opens up all kinds of possibilities and can be used to connect schools and kura with communities and local businesses. Projects can be used to explore ideas and actions that make a difference in students’ lives, while developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need for the future.

We’ve heard that some schools have already created space for learning by reducing, redesigning, or removing NCEA Level 1. People say that this is working well for students.

We’ve heard that there is too much pressure from assessment during Level 1, sometimes at the expense of important learning.

We know that students benefit from engaging in meaningful learning opportunities that reflect their identity, language, culture and aspirations. With New Zealand being diverse, providing these opportunities is essential.

Focus questions

  • What do you think the purpose of Level 1 should be?
  • What is needed to make sure Level 1 works for
  • students who want to learn vocational skills? For example, “I want to be a chef, builder, auto mechanic, arborist or artist.”
  • How can we make sure that NCEA Level 1 remains a strong qualification for people who leave school after Year 11?
  • How else could we change assessment at Level 1?

Download the Big Opportunities discussion document

Download the Big Opportunities 1 factsheet

Download the Big Opportunities 1 A3 Poster