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We have been told that NCEA is becoming increasingly disconnected and the number of standards in some subjects has grown considerably over time.

What we’ve heard?

Many subject areas have many more credits available than are necessary to make up a course, and it can be hard to identify the most important learning. 

We’ve also heard that the sheer number of assessment events per year leads to increased workload for both teachers and students. Excessive use of internals can also drive teacher workload, as they bear the main burden of designing, delivering, marking and moderating internal assessment.

We’ve also heard that vocational education and training is not seen to have the same status as more traditionally ‘academic’ programmes of learning.

Key changes

  • Rebuild the standards within each subject or field of study so there are fewer of them, but each standard covers a broader range of knowledge, skills and capabilities. Each standard would be worth 4-6 credits, with a maximum of around 20 credits per subject.
  • The number of credits available from internally and externally assessed standards is more balanced. 
    • External assessments doesn't mean just exams. It can also mean things like portfolios, reports, investigations, performances or common assessment tasks.
  • Where appropriate, different sources of knowledge including mātauranga Māori, vocational and Pacific peoples knowledge will be reflected in achievement standards, unit standards and associated materials.
  • For vocational education, we will work with relevant industry bodies to explore what the principle of ‘fewer, larger standards’ will look like in vocational courses offered in schools and foundation tertiary settings. We will also explore how to strengthen the coherence and status of this learning through NCEA.
  • Strengthen industry-derived standards (as part of the Reform of Vocational Education) to support the development of high quality and coherent vocational learning packages within NCEA.
  • Expand course endorsements to include Achieved as well as Merit and Excellence grades.
  • All registered courses will need to have a course description explaining its focus, and how it might fit into the student’s future pathway and overall learning. This will improve the coherence of courses and give employers and tertiary providers a clearer indication of what a student knows and can do.

What you need to know

Many of these changes will be made through the Review of Achievement Standards (RAS) that starts in 2020.

Changes to industry-derived standards will be considered as part of the Reform of Vocational Education.

Students in class

NCEA Change Package Overview 2019

Read the NCEA Change Package Overview 2019 for more detail about the changes, the journey we took with New Zealand to get to them, and what an NCEA programme could look like.

cover image of overview document

Around 16,000 New Zealanders took part in the year-long review of NCEA, and the Ministry of Education is to continue to work with stakeholders to confirm a detailed design and implementation plan for the changes by the end of the year.

Read the other changes

  1. Make NCEA more accessible
  2. Mana ōrite mo te mātauranga Māori
  3. Strengthen literacy and numeracy requirements
  4. Have fewer, larger standards
  5. Simplify NCEA’s structure
  6. Show clearer pathways to further education and employment
  7. Keep NCEA Level 1 as an optional level