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We heard strongly through engagement that many students are leaving school without the levels of literacy and numeracy necessary to engage with the community, further education and work.

What we’ve heard

Currently, students are not required to have their literacy and numeracy skills explicitly assessed to receive an NCEA. Instead, students are assumed to have sufficient literacy and numeracy if they succeed in 20 credits worth of ‘literacy- and numeracy-rich’ standards. There are over 700 of these achievement standards – and they are not giving us reliable enough information about whether students are literate and numerate.

Key changes

  • We will develop standards for literacy and numeracy which make up a coherent package of 20 credits
  • The new literacy and numeracy requirement will be a co-requisite of NCEA
  • The credits will not contribute to the 60 credit requirement for each level of NCEA
  • Students will be able to meet the standard whenever they are ready, which may be as early as year 7, however we want to hear from you if you believe this is the right level.
  • The standards will be externally graded, to avoid increasing teacher workload and to guarantee credibility.

What you need to know

The change proposed to NCEA means that literacy and numeracy will be explicitly assessed to ensure all children have the literacy and numeracy skills they need to access the curriculum in senior secondary, and to succeed in life beyond school. 

Alongside this change we are working to make sure that teachers have more tools and resources to help them assess and track their students’ progress.

Because students make progress in their literacy and numeracy at different rates, some young people will reach the required levels of literacy and numeracy as early as Year 7. We also want to ensure that literacy and numeracy is deliberately considered and tracked by schools to ensure students are ready for NCEA.

Students will be able to meet the literacy and numeracy requirements at any time during their secondary education – including while they are working towards their NCEA.

As part of the detailed design of this change, we are therefore exploring whether it is appropriate for students to be able to attempt the new co-requisite from Year 7. As we recognise that not all students will be ready to meet the benchmark at that age and stage, and that early formal assessment towards the NCEA co-requisite may be inappropriate for some students who have reached the benchmark, we are seeking feedback if this is the right year level.

To inform the detailed design of this new benchmark, two Technical Advisory Groups are providing the Ministry with expert advice on literacy and numeracy requirements for English-medium education, and te reo matatini me te pāngarau for Māori-medium education.  We will then provide the Minister of Education with further advice on how to strengthen literacy and numeracy, reflecting the Technical Advisory Groups’ expert advice, and what we’ve heard through our engagements.

Any decision around when to assess individual students needs to ensure that it supports their learning, progress and wellbeing.

What it is not

The proposal that the assessment be available as early as Year 7 is not final. We are seeking feedback on the detailed design of this change so we can confirm the most appropriate stage at which to make the co-requisite available. This will take into account likely developmental progression, wellbeing, and any likely impact on teaching practice in intermediate settings.

This change is not intended to narrow the curriculum in Years 7 and 8, or to promote or encourage reporting or an exclusive focus on literacy and numeracy. It is intended to provide clear information about the levels of literacy and numeracy required to succeed, and to support schools, students and whānau to make good decisions about when and how students should be assessed in literacy and numeracy to make sure that they are ready for NCEA and life beyond school.

We need to hear from interested people

We will be providing further advice to the Minister later this year around how the changes to NCEA will be implemented, including the detailed design of when the co-requisite will be available from.

The changes to the literacy and numeracy requirement for NCEA will not be fully delivered until at least 2023, and we know that careful planning and design will be required to support teachers’ practices in literacy and numeracy for all students. We want to hear from you about what you think the detailed design of these changes should look like, and about the support you would need to deliver the change.

Throughout August and September, we are running regional workshops to inform communities of the changes and to listen to their ideas on how the changes can be implemented most effectively. This advice will help to shape the final advice for the Minister, along with the advice from the two Technical Advisory Groups and various other stakeholder groups who are being consulted.

Feedback can be given by attending one of the regional meetings and sharing thoughts during the discussions, or by completing the online survey.

Participant at the CoLab

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 mō 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