NCEA’s toughest standards
There is, they say, always a bigger fish. And it seems that however harsh one paper was on last year’s candidates, I always find another bigger, greedier fish, keen to keep excellences from its top students.
Take level 1 science’s biology (1.3) paper — my first discovery — one where just 0.7% of some 26,500 had scored excellence. My paper seemed to be scaled up to achieve some decent numbers — the "M" had be crossed out, "E" written next to it with a short signature.
But then, a few weeks back, my technology teacher introduced level 1 technology’s society (1.7) paper. In this standard, almost three in four students failed, and just 0.6% of the 1,700 entrants achieved with excellence — ten candidates in total.
And just when I thought that was bad, I learnt about level 1 English’s unfamiliar texts (1.6) paper — an excellence statistic of just 0.4% of 42,400. For those that don’t know, English is my weakest subject and I had always hoped to achieve with excellence in unfamiliar texts, which I considered a strong point. Well, perhaps not.
But alas, there is more, my calculus teacher informed us of last years level 3 calculus’ integration (3.2) paper. This stat — a miniscule 0.3% of 7,900, few more than twenty students in total. Now, surely, it can’t get worse than this.
Or can it? I’ve already proven myself wrong three times.
This year, the State Services Commission recommended that for the 2005 external assessments, "safety nets" be incorporated to ensure excession variation was not encountered. Any such variation is to be either scaled or justified by the chief examiner. Whether NZQA accepted this recommendation I’ve yet to discover, but somehow, I can see more examiners taking our uselessness to NZQA rather than allowing grades to be scaled.
Anyway, I’m going to keep a list of 2004’s harshest external assessments. If you know of any others where less than one percent achieved with excellence, drop a note here as to which standard it is, and we’ll see how long this list gets.