New maths and literacy assessment prioritised as other NCEA changes slowed

  • All school leavers with NCEA will be required to have minimum maths and literacy skills with a new assessment being introduced from the start of next year
  • The new NCEA Level 1 will be fully implemented in 2024 as planned but Level 2 will now be implemented in 2026 (instead of 2025) and Level 3 will be 2027 (instead of 2026)
  • Focus on getting the maths and literacy curriculum right by phasing implementation of other subjects

The Government is prioritising maths and literacy learning by introducing new assessments from next year, while shifting the timeframes of other changes to NCEA and the national curriculum, Education Minister Jan Tinetti said today.

This follows feedback from teachers and principals and the NCEA Professional Advisory Group (PAG) which has recommended these changes. 

“As Minister of Education, my bottom line is to ensure our young people are getting the education they need and deserve. This includes giving students, along with their parents and employers, confidence that they are leaving school with a strong foundation in maths and literacy,” Jan Tinetti said.

“Currently there are over 500 maths and 100 literacy standards. From next year there will be a list of the essential and foundational maths and literacy assessment standards that a student must achieve in order to pass NCEA.

“But in order to get this right we are easing the pressure on teachers by slowing down the wider implementation of NCEA level 2 and 3 and re-focusing the work to refresh the curriculum.

“We’ll prioritise mathematics, English, te reo Māori and pāngarau areas of the curriculum, by deferring the requirement for schools to implement the other areas by one year. The refresh and redesign of the curriculum will continue on existing timeframes and be available to all schools from 2026, but teaching it won’t be compulsory until 2027.

“Three years of COVID-19 disruptions have left teachers and students exhausted, so we want to make sure that we are easing that workload a bit and are focusing on what matters to families most.

“The bodies representing over 21,000 teachers and principals have told us that delaying some of these important changes means they can focus on kids’ outcomes. Schools have been coping with significant disruption and want a sense of normalcy.

“We share the same goals of wanting kids at school, attending regularly and learning the basics they need to live fulfilling lives. So we’ll keep on with the changes that are needed, but roll it out at a pace that works for teachers and principals – which is good for the education system in the long term,” Jan Tinetti said.

Quotes from the sector –

Secondary Principals Association NZ (SPANZ) President, Vaughan Couillault

“This altered implementation timeline has been requested by many in the secondary sector for some time, as concerns were raised about the capacity of schools and teachers to implement the required changes to NCEA,” Secondary Principals Association NZ President Vaughan Couillault said.

“With this adjusted timeline, schools will have more time to build their capacity and adequately prepare for the changes, ensuring that the new standards can be more successfully integrated into teaching practice.”

Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) Acting President Chris Abercrombie

“PPTA Te Wehengarua is pleased the Minister is listening to secondary teachers’ concerns around the NCEA changes,” PPTA Te Wehengarua acting president Chris Abercrombie said.

“The new timeline for NCEA Levels 2 and 3 gives the Ministry time to create the resources needed for a successful change. We also need more time and resourcing allocated to secondary teachers for professional development relating to the NCEA changes.

“The Minister’s decision relating to the literacy and numeracy changes will give schools a little more flexibility to implement these high stakes changes.”

Secondary Principals’ Council chair Kate Gainsford

“The announcement is welcomed by schools, both those piloting Level 1 subjects, and paving the way for changes to NCEA levels 2 and 3 and all schools needing time to implement the significant improvements ahead,” chair of the Secondary Principals’ Council Kate Gainsford said.

“It honours the work already done by teachers in dozens of schools and supports the work ahead rolling out changes across hundreds of schools with thousands of teachers. Principals in particular welcome the certainty this brings to schools, students’ learning and communities, especially as it enables the refreshed curriculum to drive the assessment reforms, rather than the other way around.”

Notes for editors:

  • The refresh of the mathematics, English, te reo Māori and pāngarau areas of our national schooling curricula will be prioritised by deferring the requirement for schools to implement other areas by one year (except for Aotearoa New Zealand Histories and Te Takanga o Te Wā, which are already required).
  • The refresh of the New Zealand Curriculum and redesign of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa will continue on existing timelines so that schools and kura can start using the new curriculum content before it becomes required in 2027.
  • NCEA Level 1 for all secondary schools and kura will be fully implemented in 2024 as planned. In 2023 more than 350 schools and kura are being supported to use the new NCEA in a pilot status.
  • Full implementation of NCEA Level 2 will be deferred to 2026 and Level 3 will be deferred to 2027. This supports the ongoing alignment of the refreshed and redesigned curricula and NCEA.
  • From next year maths and literacy will be assessed through a new mandatory assessment from Year 10, giving parents and future employers confidence that school leavers have foundational skills. For 2024 and 2025, however, schools will also have the option to use a specified set of essential and foundational maths and literacy assessment standards that a student must achieve in their senior years of schooling in order to pass NCEA.
  • There will be 31 new Curriculum Leaders who will work across the country supporting the focus on maths and literacy. There will also be a team of 30 NCEA Implementation Facilitators are being recruited to work regionally to support teachers and kaiako at qualification and subject levels to ensure teachers are getting the support they need.