Blanket credits will be issued for students sitting NCEA for the third year in a row amid the ongoing challenges caused by Covid-19, the Government has announced on Wednesday.
It means every student sitting NCEA will receive one Learning Recognition Credit for every five credits they have earned.
The maximum extra credits a student can receive will be 10 at NCEA Level 1 and eight at levels 2 and 3.
The endorsement threshold for certificates at the merit and excellence level will also be lowered from 50 to 46.
The University Entrance requirement has also been reduced from at least 14 credits in each of three approved subjects, to 14 credits in each of two approved subjects and 12 credits in a third approved subject.
The dates for end of year examinations remain unchanged, however.
“We have heard from schools how significant absences of students and teachers as a result of Covid-19 have had a substantial impact on teaching, learning and assessment in the first two terms," Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti said.
“These changes are designed to recognise the disruption and provide relief for students, while preserving the integrity of NCEA and the learning it represents."
It comes as the Ministry of Education considers additional support for students to do "catch-up learning" to complete their qualifications before leaving school.
"Where that learning extends into 2023, NZQA will facilitate students being awarded their qualification earlier in the year. This means students who need additional credits can return to school for the time required to achieve those credits; and will then be awarded their qualification," Tinetti said.
But National Party education spokesperson Erica Stanford said the Government's announcement sets a “dangerous precedent” which is "setting our kids up to fail".
“This is the third year in a row that NCEA has been watered down, showing this Government has no other solution other than simply lowering the bar. This raises serious questions about student achievement levels and our ability to measure progress,” Stanford said.
“There is no denying that schools and students have been impacted by Covid-19 and winter illnesses, but simply lowering the bar and making it easier to pass is not the answer. It’s doing students a disservice and is setting our kids up to fail.”
Stanford called on the Government to instead turn their focus towards “turning around flailing standards by getting kids back into the classroom and focusing on the basics, rather than issuing free credits to cover up the stark reality of plummeting standards and dismal attendance”.
“The changes announced today will do nothing to address the real problems and will make it even harder to monitor student achievement.
“Rather than hiding from the results, the Government must front up and implement policies that will drive improvement and lift the standard. Because right now, Labour’s lack of delivery is failing a generation of children.”