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Don’t dismiss NCEA charges, investigate them

I feel let down. This year’s exam marking processes seemed much more reliable — Karen Sewell’s description of it was very promising indeed. The results, taking her description, were to be fair because of the pedantic processes in place. Re-marking would occur where necessary, and standards would be maintained nonetheless. Professional judgement would determine the outcome. It sounds perfect. Precisely what should be happening.

But then Bill English shows not one, but three e-mails from markers who claim they have been "forced to push through students who have not achieved into the achieved category who clearly have no knowledge of [the subject] at this level". In other words, both standards and professioanl judgment are being abandoned.

This is disappointing. This is what used to happen under the old system: when less than half the country passed, marks would be changed so that a few more passed, despite their not deserving it. There was no such thing as standards. Now, in a system that prides itself on constant standards, it seems those standards have been compromised.

NZQA and Steve Maharey, of course, deny this. But denial doesn’t comfort me. I don’t know if it’s true, but the evidence English produced is rather intimidating. Rather than telling these claims to talk to the hand, NZQA should ask for more information and investigate those marking panels immediately.

After all, Sewell did promise openness and transparency about this year’s marking processes. Hence, it would make sense that when NZQA denies something, they explain why.

If they find out what English’s e-mails were about, and either prove they are false or do something about it, my faith in this year’s marking processes’ credibility will be complete once again. Otherwise, I rest wondering if an undercover retrograde step really is taking place.

Related links

  • NZQA Press Release: Nothing secret or unofficial about marking
  • NZ Herald: All as normal with NCEA says Maharey
  • NZ Herald: ‘Secrecy’ charge over NCEA marking
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