Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lucia NZQA out of control - trying to change the Maths curriculum [UPDATE 2]

A controversial Question Two (e) from 2016 Day 2 Level One Algebra Exam - the MCAT
Last month’s NCEA Level One Algebra exam hit the news in a big way, with children upset over its difficulty, and teachers and parents outraged that the exam was not reflective of what the students were taught. (See NZQA slammed over ‘far too difficult’ maths exam – students left in tears)

Over the intervening weeks, letters sent to NZQA and to Hekia Parata, and the responses to those letters have been aggregated on this page: 2016 MCAT Feedback. They make for very interesting reading. A number of them contain detailed analyses of the questions that were set at too high a level for NCEA One.

A letter has just appeared today that was sent by Rhona Lever to Hekia Parata (PDF link), the lead writer of the controversial Algebra standard, that explains how NZQA and/or the Ministry of Education are out of control and seeking to impose their own curriculum ideas outside of the normal processes when it comes to Mathematics. She totally demolishes the excuses of NZQA that the exam represented more of an alignment to the standard itself.  This response from NZQA to one of the many complaints directed towards them is what inspired her to write:

"It is clear from the feedback that the communication processes we used in 2015 and 2016 to convey the changes to align the assessment to the standard were not adequate ....." (Quote from letter from Kristine Kilkelly to Craig Bradley at Rangi Ruru Girls' School, 11 October, 2016)

Rhona Lever's opening salvo to the statement above was:

I strongly disagree with the implication that the changes have been made to align the assessment to the standard. I was the leader of the group that wrote this standard and am in a position to state categorically that this 2016 examination was not moving towards the intention of the standard but was actually moving away from it, and constitutes a deliberate attempt to change the standard.
Her whole letter continues in the same vein and deserves to be read and absorbed in full by all interested parties, and I hope that Hekia Parata doesn't just send it on to NZQA for them make their normal excuses. Because so far, all that seems to have happened with complaints sent to Hekia Parata is that they have been forwarded to NZQA who say they cannot respond to specifics on the types of questions in the exam until all the NCEA exams are over and the results sent out.  This letter from Rhona Lever ought to generate a more than just a passing of the buck to NZQA who cannot be trusted to investigate themselves.

UPDATED 25 Oct, 16: Unbelievable! Rhona Lever's letter was passed over to NZQA who barely read it if their reply is anything to go by.

UPDATED 28 Oct, 16: Hekia Parata to stand down after election, announced the day after this post and RNZ noticing the above letter (see Maths teacher who wrote national standard says exam was "disastrous".) Coincidence? I thought so at the time, but now I'm not so sure, hence this update.

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