Nga Puna O Waiorea

Principal’s response to Herald on Sunday article on NCEA withdrawals

The Editor
New Zealand Herald
8 May, 2011

Dear Sir,

The Herald on Sunday ambiguously reports me as stating that Western Springs College has “ broken no rules ” in relation to withdrawals from NCEA standards. This, of course, allows for the inference that nevertheless we may be responsible for distorting our results.

The facts are that there is a perfectly simple and innocent explanation, information given to your reporter.

The withdrawals are a direct consequence of an assessment data software system which indiscriminately enters all of the students in a subject class as enrolled for any standard studied by any other individual student in that class.

Timetable clashes might require that, for example, a Level 2 student be accepted into a Level 1 class in order to study a given subject. All of the Level 1 students in the class are entered for the Level 2 standards studied by the Level 2 student, even though they do not study them. Hence the need for the later withdrawals.

Following the recent attacks on the integrity of the Herald’s NCEA league tables, I provided our trustees with an analysis of results based on both sets of data to be found on the NZQA website: the students actually entered for the standards, and the number of students on the 1 July roll. Parents should be reassured when a school’s standing is the same on both, as in our case.

Forgive me for regarding all of this as yet another tiresome, highly questionable yet potentially damaging attack on NCEA, a national qualification system strongly supported by a huge majority of New Zealand secondary school principals.

Ken Havill
Western Springs College