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NCEA & HELPFUL WEBSITES. Session 3 Sarah Cornish, Education New Zealand . NCEA. NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) offered at all NZ secondary schools. It is administered by NZQA. NCEA is the national qualification for secondary students in Years 11-13.

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Session 3

Sarah Cornish, Education New Zealand



  • NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) offered at all NZ secondary schools. It is administered by NZQA.
  • NCEA is the national qualification for secondary students in Years 11-13.
  • NCEA creates a pathway from secondary education to New Zealand tertiary education. All levels are recognised by New Zealand’s tertiary education providers
  • The National Qualification Framework (NQF) is a system which integrates all New Zealand Qualifications (including University degrees) into an overall framework. The three levels of NCEA are the first levels of the NQF.
  • NCEA is New Zealand’s national qualification so is automatically observed by offshore governments



NCEA is the first three levels of the National Qualifications Framework.

  • New Zealand’s 21st Century assessment system, which started in 2002 (Level 1) and has been fully implemented since 2004.
  • An assessment system which recognises and reports on actual achievement
  • A balance between external assessment (most commonly, examinations) marked by NZQA and internal assessment marked by school.
  • A way of breaking subjects into parts (which are called standards), and reporting on each of the standards to give a clearer picture of what a student can do.
  • NCEA works like a university paper credit system. Each standard achieved gives a certain number of credits towards the certificate.
  • There are two types of standards – ‘unit standards‘ and ‘achievement standards’, both of which are used to assess programmes taught at school.
  • For achievement standards you can be graded ‘achieved‘, ‘merit‘ or ‘excellence’. Achievement standards can be either internally or externally assessed.
  • Unit standards have just one level of achievement - ‘achieved’. Unit standards are internally assessed
  • Allows teachers to assess skills not suited to exams - such as making a speech in English, having a conversation in languages, doing an experiment in Science.
  • This is also a recognition of the difficulty that some students had with traditional examination-based assessment.
  • NCEA recognises the idea of a ‘subject’ as not being fixed for all students at all schools. Schools can now better meet the needs of students by designing courses to meet their needs, rather than a unified, single syllabus - eg most schools offer a range of differing courses in Maths and English with a different mix of Achievement and Unit Standards, and a different mix of assessment types.
The result is that NCEA provides a large amount of Assessment information, giving a clear picture of what a student can achieve and what they know
achieving ncea levels

NCEA Level 1 is gained by achieving 80 Level 1 Credits, of which 8

must be in English (4 in Reading and 4 in Writing) 8 must be in Mathematics

NCEA Level 2 is gained by achieving 80 Credits of which 60 must be Level 2 credits

NCEA Level 3 is gained by achieving 80 Credits of which 60 must be Level 3 credits

Credits can come from either Achievement Standards or Unit Standards


Entranceto University from NCEA

  • 14 Credits at Level 3 in one approved subject
  • 14 Credits at Level 3 in one approved subject
  • 14 Credits at Level 3 in no more than 2 approved subjects
  • 14 Credits in Mathematics at Level 1 or higher
  • 8 Credits at Level 2 or above in Literacy (4 in Reading & 4 in Writing)
entrance to university from ncea
Entrance to University from NCEA
  • All New Zealand secondary schools offer NCEA, which is recognised by all New Zealand tertiary institutions.
  • As New Zealand’s national qualification, NCEA is also recognised by international universities.
  • NCEA Level 1 is broadly equivalent to the English General Certificate of Education (GCE).
  • NCEA Level 3 is equivalent to English A Levels and Australia's Higher School Certificate (HSC).


Disadvantages to NCEA

  • Results are not marked as %
  • Some think it favours vocational students rather than academic students
  • Is a fairly new system and was introduced quickly

Advantages to NCEA

  • Students can study at multiple levels
  • Part of the NQF (National Qualification Framework) so can gain extra

credits at a tertiary provider

  • Mixture of internal and external assessment

- students accumulate credits throughout the year

- students see their progress throughout the year

- students try hard all year instead of for 3 hours only

- students are able to re-sit assessments that they’ve failed



  • Originate from Cambridge, UK so exams are marked there
  • CIE exams are available from 6,000 schools in 150 countries around the world
  • Qualifications cover the 14 – 19 year old age bracket. Including A & O Levels
  • Some New Zealand secondary schools are introducing CIE exams as an option, in addition to the national qualification, NCEA, to give students a choice of qualification.


  • The IB is administered by a head office in Geneva and the Curriculum and Examinations Centre in Cardiff.
  • The IB Diploma programme is available at 1,000 schools in nearly 100 countries
  • Only 7 New Zealand schools offer IB as an option, they are a mixture of primary and secondary schools.