Monday, February 6, 2017

NCEA - Deep Challenge and Inquiry

One of the Principles that has formed the foundations of our curriculum decision-making is to Inspire through Deep Challenge and Inquiry. When it came to making our decisions in relation to NCEA we were close to deciding to approach it in much the same way as all schools until we focused on this Principle.

Our approach which we settled on in early 2015 is described in an earlier post  by me and one by Claire. I included the following in that previous post:

I then explained why NCEA Level 1 was a qualification of little value; it leads to no employment or further training. Despite this all schools expose their 14 and 15 year olds to a full year of six subjects offering anywhere between 18 and 24 credits (both internal and external) meaning to get the 80 required (for a meaningless qualification) students were being exposed to 120-140 credits. It's like being hit by a tidal wave! All of a sudden their focus moves away from the joy of discovery and learning to credit chasing and teachers take their eye off the NZC and 'teach to the tests' - all for a qualification that has little value! Stress levels rise for everyone - students, teachers and parents.

Our plan is that our Year 11 students will achieve around 20 quality Level 1 or 2 credits that emerge from their co-constructed learning programmes. Most of these will be from their areas of interest and passion though if we identify that a learner will struggle to receive literacy and numeracy credits at Level 6 or 7 then we will direct them to the literacy and numeracy Unit Standards.

Our learners will take their 20 quality credits with them to Year 12. Their focus in Year 12 will be on 60 quality Level 2 or higher credits. When these are matched with the 20 they have brought with them they are awarded NCEA L1 and 2. They will have done this after having attempted around 100 credits over their 2 years rather than the 220-280 they may have had to attempt elsewhere.

So, as we approach our 4th year and have students moving into Year 12 (Q2 in our lingo), how did 2016 pan out for our Year 11 (Q1) learners?

We started 2016 by setting a target of every Q1 learner achieving 20 quality credits to lay the foundation for their 2 year journey to a quality NCEA L2. Programmes were set up in such a way that all learners would have the opportunity to attempt 20 - 40 credits.

This is what happened:

  • 97% achieved at least 20 credits (the 4 who did not are high priority learners). This shows we came close to the quantity part of our target. What about the quality?
  • 57% of all internal standards were awarded Merit or Excellence
  • 62% of all external standards were awarded Merit or Excellence

How well have the foundations been laid for a quality NCEA L2?
On average, our Q2 learners arrive this year with 12 Level 2 credits, meaning they need 48 at Level 2 or higher to gain their Level 2.

Our programmes will allow our Q2 learners to access 60 - 80 credits at Level 2 or higher and I am confident that we will achieve the quantity part of our target for them. I am also confident we will continue to nail the quality element. Our Q1 learners have flourished in an environment that concentrates on deep learning while avoiding the downside of assessment anxiety as they chase 80+ credits for a largely meaningless Level 1 qualification.

At HPSS we are all determined to maintain an environment focussing on deep learning and not on assessment even as our learners move through Q2 and into Q3 in 2018.

1 comment:

Celia Fleck said...

Thanks Maurie for your brave and bold leadership in this area of qualifications, the NZC and student well-being. It is fantastic to see the results of your and your teams vision. Ngā mihi nui.