The Daily Bork

February 15, 2005

How to completely fuck-up a school system

Once upon a time (ie about 15 years ago when I did it) NZ had a national school examination system where everyone sat the same exam for the same course. It had been in place a long time, worked well and everyone knew what the grades meant. So along come the socialists and completely fuck it up beyond all recognition. Because, of course, standardised exams disadvantage those few who are disadvantaged by such a system. Thus a new system involving an enormous amount of year-round internal assessment (NCEA) was introduced, with "grades" given for everything (like effort etc) but not really for attainment in the subject. The usual PC shit of trying to keep everyone bright and happy and not realising they've been sold a nag. Well, the first time it is completely put into action it of course goes tits-up and no-one is happy, least of all the poor students who have been the guinea pigs of the grand socialist experiment...

I particularly like the patches to fix the system that are expected to produce their own problems. Still, socialists like this sort of nonsense because if there isn't something for them to "fix" then they are left clueless as to what to do (no, doing nothing because it is already working is NOT an option).

(emphasis mine)

Tidying up the mess

The explanations so far given for the pitiful mess in this year's NCEA scholarship results have been as inadequate as the results themselves, writes The Press in an editorial.
The integrity of the exam, which is supposed to sort out the best and the brightest, has been brought sharply into question by results that have given a disproportionately low number of scholarships to science students. A cobbled-together makeweight "solution" has been thought up, which will provide some compensation for those students who have been cheated by the blunder. But there has been no real word yet on how the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, which administers the exam, intends to ensure that the fiasco is not repeated.
The mess is the latest in a string of botches from the NZQA in the introduction of the NCEA system. Even something as relatively straightforward as an adequate internet apparatus able to deliver results to students in a quick and efficient way has been beyond its abilities to provide. Having failed last year to have a system capable of coping with the internet demand, this year it simply reverted to posting results out. The scholarship exam muddle, however, is far more serious.
The distribution of results between subjects has been wildly skewed. Those who took arts subjects have received far more scholarships than those in science. One in three, for instance, passed the English scholarship exam, but in biology no more than nine out of 641 passed. In the most strikingly bizarre result to emerge so far, a student who was one of only three in Australasia chosen to go to the London Science School last year, and who was dux of her school and achieved exceptional marks in the respected alternative Cambridge examination, failed to pass the scholarship exam.
The NZQA's first reaction was to keep its head down. The anomalous results were apparently known since before Christmas, but until school principals began to complain and the matter got into the media, not a murmur of acknowledgment that there might be a problem had emerged. Even then, the NZQA ducked for cover, refusing to release the results or answer questions from The Press. It was only after the row became political that the facts emerged.
The Government has created a new "distinction certificate" based on students' NCEA level 3 results, enabling some of them to receive money they would have got if the scholarships had worked as they should have. This solution will no doubt produce anomalies of its own, but at least it is better than nothing. That takes care of the present problem. More important, though, is restoring the integrity of the system. The continuing blithe attitude of the Associate Minister of Education, David Benson-Pope, does nothing to restore confidence in an exam that used to be a cornerstone of the education system. This is rather more than just another of "one or two little pieces that need fixing", as he put it this week. Unless the matter is seen to, these results have the potential to distort students' choices in future.
The NZQA needs to come under firm pressure to improve its performance. Whether Benson-Pope, hitherto something of a political lightweight, is the man to do that must be open to doubt.


  • I come from the poorest state in the U.S. and at least it is trying to catch up with the rest of the nation to at least be adequate. Sounds like NZ needs some better guidance. Enjoyed your post.

    By Blogger Why Valley, at 9:20 am  

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