The Daily Bork

February 17, 2005

The buck stops... over there somewhere I think.

What happens when an obviously flawed system begins to disintegrate?

Critics of the NCEA have been told to get over it: the Government says it is here to stay.

"There ain't an alternative and we're not looking at any alternatives...end of conversation," Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope said yesterday.

(More at: NCEA here to stay – Benson-Pope)

Well, just the sort of attitude you'd expect. After all, if it isn't broken we can't spend money fixing it.

In an accompanying article (NZQA admits results should have set off alarm bells):

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority today told a Parliamentary select committee it was conducting an internal review to determine why variances in scholarship exam results did not set off alarm bells sooner.
NZQA chief executive Karen Van Rooyen and board chairman Graeme Fraser were today grilled by members of the education and science committee over the 2004 exams.


Let the buck-passing begin!

Questions have been raised over when Education Minister Trevor Mallard first knew about the problems.

Who really thinks that the Minister is going to take the hit on this one? Anyone? No, I thought not.

Ms Van Rooyen said marking the four million scholarship exam papers was completed on December 24.

The population of NZ is 4 million. How many students sit scholarship each year? I can't find the number but let's be generous and say 20000. That means each student sits on average 200 exams... that can't be right. Even with 100000 students it is still 40 exams each. There is something very fishy with that number.

NZQA made contact with the minister's office on January 14 to provide provisional results and a "big picture" view that fewer students had achieved scholarship than expected, she told the committee.
Contact was again made with the minister's office after further data was received on January 17, but no analysis was provided.
Asked why Mr Mallard himself was not notified at that time, Ms Van Rooyen said: "I think that's a question we need to have some searching on, as to why data was handed to the minister's office with no red alert on."

Look where the responsibility is going to disappear, between the cracks. How convenient that one side omitted a "red alert" flag and the other side didn't bother reading it anyway.

Mr Benson-Pope admitted on February 8 variability in results was unacceptable and announced a new distinction certificate for students who had failed scholarship but done well in Level 3 NCEA, run alongside scholarship.

So now there will be a bunch of kids with a useless certificate which no one will recognise ("Oh this is for those who failed scholarship but should have passed? Riiiggghhhttt. Next!"). Great.

"It is obvious to us that some schools have entered students ... that would not have any hope of achieving scholarship which is for our top scholar."

Now it is the students fault!

The full implementation of levels one, two and three of NCEA had been a "massive undertaking".
The implementation of NCEA had been the most "significant and far reaching" that had ever occurred in the secondary school system.
It had come after a decade of debate and division, which culminated in a 1998 Cabinet paper that formed the basis of and rationale for the introduction of NCEA.

So the program, which had severe critics from the start, is falling apart...

"It has been largely successful," he said, adding that was not to say adjustments and refinements to the system were not necessary.

Success being defined by not losing one's job when it all turns to custard the first year out.

Public education. It's got to be good for you.


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