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Understanding NCEA Professor Elizabeth McKinley Director, Starpath Project Presented to UoA staff, Decima Glenn Room, 310, Owen G. Glen Building, 20 September.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding NCEA Professor Elizabeth McKinley Director, Starpath Project Presented to UoA staff, Decima Glenn Room, 310, Owen G. Glen Building, 20 September."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding NCEA Professor Elizabeth McKinley Director, Starpath Project Presented to UoA staff, Decima Glenn Room, 310, Owen G. Glen Building, 20 September 2012

2 Starpath Project aims to identify and address the barriers that lead to inequity of educational outcomes in NZ secondary schools and which make it difficult for students from under represented groups to get to and succeed in university studies.

3 Findings from early research on NCEA Students from low decile schools and from some ethnic groups tend to choose (or are guided or assigned into) less “academic” subjects and into applied and internally assessed versions of core subjects (Hipkins, et al, 2005). Such a pattern of course choices usually precludes completion of the UE qualification and, even when the minimum UE requirements are met, excludes students from competing for admission to limited-entry university programmes (Starpath Project, 2006).

4 Despite recent improvements, disparities in educational outcomes related to socioeconomic status and ethnicity continue. Table 1: UE (& NCEA L 3) achievement levels across low, medium and high-decile schools (NZQA, 2012) 2005200720092011 Decile 1-345 (51)%47 (57)%42 (52)%46 (64)% Decile 4-761 (65)%64 (68)%59 (66)%64 (74)% Decile 8-1071 (74)%75 (78)%73 (76)%77 (82)%

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6 Table 2: UE achievement levels for students participating in NCEA Level 3, across the four main ethnic groups (NZQA, 2012) 2005200720092011 NZEuropean69%73%69%74% NZ Māori44%50%42%49% Pasifika35%39%35%39% Asian69%73%70%74%

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8 Table 3: Highest attainment (UE & Level 3 Cert) of school leavers by ethnic group (MOE, 2010) 20082009 NZ European49%52% NZ Māori21%23% Pasifika23%28% Asian67%68%

9 While there is much that is positive about the NCEA system, concerns remain about its potential to motivate students away from achieving their best, and towards “collecting credits” and opting for easier assessments, without adequate regard for the long-term implications of their choices (Hipkins, et al, 2005; Meyer, et al, 2006).

10 Research question: Why and how do Māori, Pacific, and other students in low-mid decile schools choose specific NCEA subjects, levels and standards, or have such choices made for them? Focus on how NCEA impacts on the pathway to university for students with academic potential who are currently underrepresented in the UE and NCEA Level 3 statistics.

11 Methods: A cross-sectional, qualitative study, using a series of composite case studies with triangulation of data from students’, parents’ and teachers’ perspectives. Short questionnaires for demographic data from all participants. Single, individual, semi-structured interviews with students, parents, and teachers for initial data collection. Follow-up focus groups with students and teachers, to clarify or extend initial findings.

12 Table 4. STUDENTS, PARENTS, AND TEACHERS - BY GENDER AND ETHNICITY MĀORIPACIFICPĀKEHĀ/NZASIANTOTAL STUDENTS Female 131814 348 Male 1311 439 Total students 87 PARENTS Female 14 4 -32 Male 1 3 5- 9 Total parents 42 TEACHERS Gender Female 2 117-20 Male 3 1 8-12 Total teachers 32 TOTAL PARTICIPANTS 463869 7161

13 Selected key findings: (1) Perceptions of how well NCEA is working in practice (what participants liked about it) It provides options for students with different abilities and interests; Internal assessment allows students to gain credits throughout the year; It allows students to gain qualifications at different levels; Gaining a qualification is not contingent on passing exams;

14 but (what participants did not like), inter alia Parents do not understand their children’s results, and cannot monitor their progress; NCEA “grades” do not give a clear enough indication of achievement (Achievement, Merit, Excellence - inadequate feedback); Entry into preferred classes is not always possible and this can determine future options; Changing pathways can be difficult.

15 (2) What students know about NCEA Varied levels of understanding Some know what they don’t know (e.g. how credits from Level 2 are used to gain Level 3 Certificate) Some don’t know what they don’t know (e.g. that it is not possible to gain UE without completing some Level 3 subjects) Areas where knowledge is patchy: –Mix of levels, subjects and credits for UE –Credits for different Certificate levels –If they are personally on track to achieve a specific NCEA qualification Although 78% of the students aspired to achieving UE qualification, many did not know how to get there.

16 (3) What parents know about NCEA Most still struggling to understand more than the basics (NCEA has 3 levels, students earn credits – internally or externally) ; It has taken time to reach even basic understanding; Parents struggle to “decipher” their children’s NCEA results and monitor their progress; They do not understand alternative versions of core subjects, differences between unit and achievement standards, or UE and other entry requirements for tertiary study.

17 Of most concern – parents’ and students’ lack of understanding of the relationship between NCEA framework and individual school policies, e.g. –impact of subject “bands” and timetabling on subject choice; –allocation to different versions of subjects; –standards and credits needed to achieve a “subject pass”. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult for some students and parents to make appropriate course choices, and to understand their future implications.

18 She told me she want to be a teacher… we went to the school and…got her report and she told me that she select her subject for this year for the NCEA… I saw the subjects including…Social Studies and Accounting. And she didn’t do…the Computer, but she was the top in Computer last year. Then we came over and asked the teacher “Why?” I don’t understand how they separate them into a group, like 101, 102, I don’t understand that. And the teacher said “That’s why, because if she take Computer she can’t take the History or Social Studies... She had to take another choice”… I told him “Why?” I just ask because I don’t know why she was the top in the Computer last year and this year… they didn’t give her a chance to continue on and… they said “Okay, she going to take that” and she left Accounting… I said “I like the Accounting, can’t she take Accounting and Computer”. Then teacher said “No, if she take Computers she has to left Accounting, take the Computer and History”. (Tongan-born father of Year 11 student)

19 I think people have got so hung up on the total credits that they have forgotten about the subject pass as such…I had quite a flabbergasted … father and daughter that I had enrolled at the start of the year where I said “yeah she might have her 95 credits … but she wouldn’t be able to do this subject [maths] because she’s only got eight in that particular subject, so we wouldn’t consider that she could go on in that subject”, and they hadn’t even thought of that aspect of it. (Female, subject teacher)

20 (4) The role of schools in mediating NCEA choices Schools usually control: –what subjects are available; –what subjects are compulsory; –what prerequisites are required; –how many students can be accommodated in each class and subject version; –how timetables are organised; –which combinations of subjects can be studied at any one time; –“streaming” of students based on their assessment results from previous years.

21 Structural and systemic constraints at school level can have negative impact on student choices. Despite NCEA’s apparent flexibility, it’s easier to move students down and away from an academic pathway, than to move them up and onto an academic pathway. “We categorise the students too early… being placed in academic or non-academic classes, or streaming... And that can immediately narrow their choices… The deans are often involved, the form teachers, so a range of people are consulted but essentially it is [one teacher] who will say, ‘these are the 103 groups, these are the 102s, and these are the 101s’.” (Subject teacher)

22 Common barriers to UE and tertiary education pathway: Starting with low asTTle or PAT scores in Year 8 or 9; Average or below average performance in Year 10; Allocation to “applied” versions of core subjects in year 11; Being encouraged/allowed to take inappropriate subjects in Years 11 and 12;

23 Failing to attempt and/or complete ”subject passes” in required standards; Failing to attempt and/or complete approved subjects; Failing to attempt and/or complete achievement standards and related external assessments; Failing to attempt and/or complete sufficient credits. Schools can monitor for such “red flag” developments and intervene to keep students on the most appropriate pathway.

24 Freedom to choose from a vast and complicated array of options should not be an end in itself. Improved outcomes for Māori, Pacific, and other students from low decile schools require that: –NCEA pathways to university are made more straightforward, transparent, and comprehensible; –Students and parents are given more helpful guidance in navigating the NCEA system, and that –Schools, students and parents work collaboratively on shaping educational pathways through secondary school and toward university education.

25 Exemplar 1: Year 11 SUBJECTINTERNAL credits completed EXTERNAL credits completed TOTAL credits completed Credits with MERIT or EXCELLENCE Failed to achieve* English L11982762 (external) Mathematics L117122964 (external) Science L1 (including 2 credits in chemistry and 2 credits in biology) 815234 Physical Education L1 220 16 Technology L1184226 Total credits84 (100% pass rate) 39 (87% pass rate) 123 (95% overall pass rate) 386

26 Exemplar 1: Year 12 SUBJECTINTERNAL credits completed EXTERNAL credits completed TOTAL credits completed Credits with MERIT or EXCELLENCE Failed to achieve* English L2130 69 (external) Mathematics L2120 12 (external) Biology L21231596 (external) Physical Education L2 270 7 Accounting L19094 Economics L1202211 (external) Core generic L1303 Total credits78 (100% pass rate) 3 (7% pass rate) 81 (68% overall pass rate) 2838

27 Exemplar 1: Year 13 SUBJECTINTERNAL credits EXTERNAL credits TOTAL credits completed Credits with MERIT or EXCELLENCE Failed to achieve* English L312Nil129 (external) Mathematics L3143174 (external) Biology L3 (including 4 credits in science) 104144 (external) Social Studies L34Nil4 10 (external) Total credits**40 (100% pass rate) 7 (21% pass rate) 47 (64 % overall pass rate) 27

28 What happened in this case? Able and diligent student (Loves maths and English. Started NCEA with 123 credits, almost a third with M or E) Supportive family, but little understanding of NCEA Allowed to take a further 25 credits at Level 1 in Year 12 No help with academic planning or subject choices (still unclear about aspects of NCEA) Lack of direction (missed external assessments) By year 13 – lacked appropriate prerequisites; took what was available; lost motivation; achieved UE (but only just)

29 Exemplar 2: Year 11 SUBJECTINTERNAL credits EXTERNAL credits TOTAL credits completed Credits with MERIT or EXCELLENCE Failed to achieve* English L11972613 3 (external) Mathematics L117320013 (external) Science L1 (including 2 credits in chemistry and 2 credits in biology) 8152340 Social Studies L2851385 (external) Hospitality L1 (including 6 L 1 credits in Home and Life Sciences) 330 00 Total credits85 (100% pass rate) 30 (59% pass rate) 115 (88% pass rate) 2521 ( external)

30 Exemplar 2: Year 12 SUBJECTINTERNAL credits completed EXTERNAL credits completed TOTAL credits completed Credits with MERIT or EXCELLENCE Failed to achieve* English L21932206 (external) Mathematics L2120 512 (external) Social studies L3100 010 (external) Service Sector L1/ L2 and L3 120 00 Hospitality L2 and L3 170 00 Physical Education L2 210 00 Total credits91 (100% pass rate) 3 (10% pass rate) 94 (80% pass rate) 528 ( external)

31 Exemplar 2: Year 13 SUBJECTINTERNAL credits completed EXTERNAL credits completed TOTAL credits completed Credits with MERIT or EXCELLENCE Failed to achieve* English L31832146 (external) Mathematics L3140 37 (external) History L3909915 (external) Social Studies L3000010 (external) Total credits**41 (100% pass rate) 3 (7% pass rate) 44 (57% pass rate) 1638 (external)

32 10 ways to ensure academic success: Choose a school that provides the subjects your child will need to study at each NCEA level; Check with the school on streaming practices and how this might affect your child; Make sure your child does his/her homework and develops good study skills early; Encourage your child to set high standards for his/her school work and each year’s achievements;

33 Make sure your child keeps his/her options open to achieve UE and Level 3 Certificate; Make sure your child attempts and succeeds in passing external exams; Review your child’s interests and possible career options before signing off on the subjects for the following year; Check at the beginning of each year that your child is in the appropriate classes and subjects;

34 Keep an eye on the credits your child should be achieving during the year (and which assessments, if any, are emerging as a problem); Celebrate your child’s successes along the way to ensure strong self-belief!


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