NCEA book a welcome guide for students and parents

Media release
Issued 12 May 2011

A new book tackling common student and parent questions over the National Certificates of Educational Achievement system is expected to help plug the gaps of misunderstanding nearly a decade after NCEA implementation.

‘Understanding NCEA: A relatively short and very useful guide for secondary students and their parents’, written by The University of Auckland Starpath Project’s Liz McKinley and Irena Madjar, is the result of research that indicates that students and their families need a solid understanding of NCEA in order to make best possible course choices and avoid pitfalls during senior high school years.

The authors – who have interviewed secondary school teachers, students and parents from a range of different communities – say that NCEA’s complexity and flexibility means it is vitally important that students approach it with clear goals, good advice and careful planning.

“Our aim is to make NCEA understandable, so that students and their families can make NCEA work for them and help them reach their goals. This is especially important for students aiming to go on to tertiary education, including university.”

The book includes advice for parents or whanau, who need to be up-to-date with what their children are studying, how well they are doing and what they hope to do when they leave school, the authors say. It also features stories drawn from the real-life experiences of more than 120 students the authors spoke to during their research.

“When it comes to NCEA, parents, students and schools are often talking past each other,” the authors say. “Our research indicates that parents are still struggling to understand how NCEA can work for their child and do not always have the confidence to ask important questions of their child’s school and teachers.

“Students are still left to manage their own NCEA pathways, and whilst some do it well indeed, too many students work out where the short cuts might be, such as how to get the most credits for the least effort, without appreciating the longer term consequences of their decisions.”

The book will be launched at Manurewa High School in Manukau on May 25, and is available from NZCER Press at