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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, NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements are not assessed to a common, clearly defined benchmark. As a result, students often come out of NCEA with inconsistent levels of literacy and numeracy, making it difficult for them to succeed. Others are reaching Year 11 with insufficient levels of literacy and numeracy needed to succeed in NCEA.

Many people said that literacy and numeracy is not an issue that NCEA can solve by itself. Teachers must be provided with the tools to enable students to reach the appropriate levels of literacy and numeracy before they get to Year 11.

Businesses, employers and tertiary organisations need to have confidence that NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements are reliable and credible.

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
  • The standards will be externally graded, to avoid increasing teacher workload and to guarantee credibility.

What you need to know

We will set a standardised benchmark for assessing students' literacy and numeracy in both English and Te Reo Māori. This benchmark will be set at the level needed to engage with further education and work. We will remove the current ability to achieve NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements from ‘literacy- or numeracy-rich’ standards. We will also explore how we might include oral literacy as part of the new requirements.

A package of new, specialised, externally assessed standards worth 20 credits will be developed which clearly assess literacy and numeracy at this benchmark. Students will need to achieve these standards in order to gain any NCEA qualification and these credits will not contribute to the new 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. This will help schools identify those students who are not making expected progress, and help to get them on track before NCEA.

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 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