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New Co-Requisite Requirements for NCEA

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What is NCEA?

There are three different levels of NCEA, 1, 2, and 3. Usually, students will start with Level 1 NCEA in year 11, and progress to Level 3 in year 13.

Over the school year, students will gain credits through completing internal (during the year) and external (end-of-year exams) assessments. The amount of credits achieved determines whether a student completes their NCEA level or not.

How to Achieve NCEA

At each level, you need a certain number of credits to gain an NCEA certificate. Previously this was the structure for achieving NCEA:

  • NCEA Level 1 is gained by completing 80 credits, including your 10 Literacy and 10 Numeracy credits. 
  • NCEA Level 2 is achieved by gaining 80 credits, 60 of which need to be at level 2 or above, including your 10 Literacy and 10 Numeracy credits. 
  •  NCEA Level 3 is achieved by gaining 80 credits, 60 of which need to be at level 3 or above, including your 10 Literacy and 10 Numeracy credits. 

In 2024, the literacy and numeracy requirements for NCEA are formally separated and the 20-credit co-requisite becomes mandatory, which will change the credit structure from 80 credits including your 10 Literacy and 10 Numeracy credits to 60 credits plus the 20 credit co-requisite. NCEA Levels 2 and 3 also will no longer require 80 credits, and students can no longer ‘carry over’ 20 credits from the level below. The new structure will look like the following:

  • NCEA Level 1 is gained by completing 60 credits at Level 1 or above
  • NCEA Level 2 is gained by completing 60 credits at Level 2 or above
  • NCEA Level 3 is gained by completing 60 credits at Level 3 or above
  • Achievement of the 20 credit Literacy and Numeracy co-requisite 

How are Standards Graded?

Assessments are grouped into two categories 

  • Achievement Standard 
  • Unit Standard

An Achievement Standard is graded with the following rubric:

  • Achieved (A)
  • Achieved with merit (M)
  • Achieved with excellence (E).

If a student fails, they'll be given a not achieved (N), which means they won't receive any of the credits for that assessment.

Unit standards are assessments that are usually completed in vocational subjects. Credits earned in unit standards can only be graded "Achieved (A)" or "Not Achieved (N).

What Are the Updates to NCEA Literacy and Numeracy?

As the educational landscape in New Zealand evolves, so do the requirements for graduating students under NCEA. The Ministry of Education has introduced significant changes, particularly to strengthen literacy and numeracy, introducing co-requisites, set to become a mandatory part of NCEA from 2024 onwards.

To achieve the NCEA co-requisite, students need to achieve the package of Literacy and Numeracy standards that are worth 20 credits in total. The intention is for the co-requisite to be achieved through external online exams, which have been introduced (and are available to take) this year. 

The driving force behind these changes is to ensure that high school graduates exit the education system with robust foundations in both literacy and numeracy, essential skills for navigating the challenges of the future.

How Can Students Attain an NCEA Co-requisite in Literacy and Numeracy?

Achieving an NCEA co-requisite in Literacy and Numeracy involves passing two literacy standards and one numeracy standard, which are the following:

  • US32403: Read written texts to understand ideas and information
    Students credited with this unit standard are able to read to make sense of written texts, read with critical awareness, and read for different purposes. 
  • US32405: Write texts to communicate ideas and information
  • US32406: Use mathematics and statistics to meet the numeracy demands of a range of situations 

The standards will each take about an hour, but there are no time limits to the assessment. The 20-credit co-requisite, mandatory from 2024, comprises only unit standards, graded only as Achieved (A) or Not Achieved (N), as opposed to achievement standards in which the students can achieve an Achieved, Merit or Excellence. 

Students must pursue the co-requisite simultaneously while working towards the other 60 credits required for each NCEA level. 

Alternative Pathway

Despite the implementation of the co-requisites external exams this year, students in 2024 and 2025, can achieve the co-requisites using either the designated co-requisite standards (the external exams) or, credits from the approved additional standards list. Whatever standards they use, students must achieve 10 literacy and 10 numeracy credits.

Credits from standards in the additional standards list cannot be counted twice, meaning these must be allocated to their co-requisite and cannot be applied as credits for a specific subject. E.g., they cannot be counted towards Statistics, Maths, or English.

Where the additional standards are used to meet the co-requisite, the associated credits can however be used in calculations for course endorsement and certificate endorsement. 

The Assessment Process

The new standards will be externally asses­­­sed, and students will need to pass the standards to be awarded any level of NCEA qualification (Level 1, 2 or 3). Before 2024, you could achieve your Literacy and Numeracy through internal assessments and/or external exams, however now the co-requisite is either taken as external online exams or, until 2026, can be achieved via a list of designated standards from levels 1, 2 & 3.

The date for achieving the co-requisites via compulsory external exams has been pushed back to 2026, following poor pass rates of NCEA pilots run in schools during 2023 and feedback from schools about COVID disruptions. 

From 2026, the dedicated online exams will be the only method to achieve the NCEA co-requisite. The standards will be assessed using a Common Assessment Activity (CAA). The CAA is an online assessment that teachers will organise for students. The standards will each take about an hour, but there are no time limits to the assessment.

When Can Students Take the Assessments?

Students can embark on these Literacy and Numeracy co-requisites from Year 9 onwards, offering them the flexibility to tailor their assessment timeline. For instance, a student might take the reading co-requisite in Year 9, the numeracy co-requisite in Year 10, and the writing co-requisite in Year 11, while another student might follow a different sequence.

When Do Students Have to Complete the Co-requisite?

The co-requisite is a one-off requirement. The new external literacy and numeracy exams can be taken at any stage from Year 9 to 13 and there is no limit to how many times the exam can be attempted. 

The Ministry of Education emphasises that students should only do the tests when they are ready. Initial data indicates that if a student is working at curriculum level 5 or above, or PAT stanine 4 or above, they will be ready to participate in these external co-requisite assessments.

Alternatively, students may achieve the co-requisite (in 2024 & 2025 only), via a designated list of alternative numeracy or literacy standard from levels, 1, 2 or 3. So, while some students may achieve the co-requisites in Year 10,  for other students, it may be Year 11 or beyond.

Changes to NCEA Level 1 Standards

NCEA Level 1 standards have also been revised, featuring fewer standards, worth larger credits. English and maths, for instance, now have four achievement standards each – two internally and two externally assessed – totalling 20 credits.

  • ENGLISH: 11 level one standards have been replaced with four new standards
    A list of the new level one standards (and the ones they have replaced) 
  • MATHS: 13 level one standards have been consolidated into four new achievement standards. 

The primary change, however, is how NCEA level 1 is going to be assessed. 

What Prompted These Changes?

In 2020, the Cabinet strengthened NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements. 

Previously, there were over 500 maths and 100 literacy standards that could be achieved. Now, there is a list of the essential and foundational maths and literacy assessment standards a student can achieve to pass NCEA. 

What’s Next?

New level 1 standards have been implemented this year (2024). Level 2 standards will see changes in 2026, while Level 3 standards will be revised in 2027. These modifications aim to streamline the assessment process and enhance the overall educational experience.

In Summary

  • NCEA credits for each Level will change from 80 credits including 10 literacy and 10 numeracy credits, to 60 credits plus the 20 credit co-requisite.
  • Literacy and Numeracy co-requisites are the new way to achieve your 20 literacy and numeracy credits 
  • These credits from 2026 will be obtained through an online exam only 
  • The co-requisite is a one-off requirement and you can sit it as many times as you like
  • They are graded as unit standards of Achieved or Not Achieved 
  • In 2024 and 2025, you can complete either the co-requisite unit standards or current literacy and numeracy-approved standards 
  • Whatever combination of standards they use, students must achieve 10 literacy and 10 numeracy credits.
  • If you are doing the approved standards as your chosen pathway for achieving your literacy and numeracy, those credits cannot be counted towards the subject they fall under, however, will work towards subject endorsements.
  • NCEA Level 1 standards have also been revised, featuring fewer standards, worth larger credits.

Will Tutoring Help?

For those navigating these changes, tutoring can be a valuable resource. Our tutoring provides crucial support for students struggling in school, helping them achieve their learning goals and navigate Common Assessment Activities effectively. If concerns arise about your child's literacy and numeracy skills, book a free assessment with NumberWorks'nWords.

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